Pollution prevention federal action strategy: chapter 1

Shifting to prevention

The federal government believes that pollution prevention is the most effective means of protecting our environment, eliminating costly waste, and promoting sustainable development. Pollution prevention focuses on avoiding the creation of pollutants rather than trying to manage them after they have been created.

This fundamental shift in emphasis from managing pollution to prevention is not only a sound environmental strategy, it's good for business. The twin benefits of pollution prevention - environmental and economic - are recognized as key to the government's sustainable development policy, a cornerstone of its overall agenda.

The link between pollution prevention and sustainable development is clear. This message was supported in the January 1994 Speech from the Throne:

"It will be the policy of the Government to promote sustainable development as an integral component of decision making at all levels of our society. Special emphasis will be placed on pollution prevention…"

Now, the federal government is delivering on this promise. This strategy stresses the need to make pollution prevention a part of our everyday activities and decisions whether as governments, as companies, as communities, or as individuals. It shows how we can shift the focus of environmental protection from reacting to pollution towards prevention of pollution at the source.

Shifting Emphasis
Shifting Emphasis

This diagram, entitled Shifting Emphasis, shows two triangles side by side. The triangle to the left is upright, and is divided into three horizontal sections: the wider bottom section is entitled ‘Clean Up'; the middle section is labeled ‘Control'; and the peak of the triangle is occupied by ‘Prevention'. A shift in ideology is then indicated by an arrow pointing towards the second inverted triangle to the right. This inverted triangle is also divided into the same three sections, however in this case: the top section of the triangle is the widest portion and is entitled ‘Prevention'; the middle section is labeled ‘Control'; and the bottom section, which is the peak of the triangle, is occupied by ‘Clean Up'. Therefore the overall message conveyed by this diagram is that the environmental ideological emphasis is shifting from cleaning-up after the problem is created, to preventing the creation of the environmental problem in the first place.


Pollution Prevention - A Federal Strategy for Action elaborates on government policy and sets priorities for action. The government's pollution prevention strategy focuses on five goals:

  • Institutionalizing pollution prevention across all federal government activities - greening government.
  • Fostering a national pollution prevention effort - working with other orders of government.
  • Achieving a climate in which pollution prevention becomes a major consideration in private sector activities - working with business and industry.
  • Providing access for all Canadians to the information and tools necessary to implement pollution prevention practices - working with individual Canadians.
  • Participating in international pollution prevention initiatives - working with the world community.
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