CCME recognizes that minimizing or avoiding the creation of pollutants and wastes can be more effective in protecting the environment than treating them, or cleaning them up after they have been created.
In 1993, CCME published A National Commitment to Pollution Prevention in which a series of principles were laid out to guide pollution prevention in Canada. This was followed in 1996 by A Strategy to Fulfill the CCME Commitment to Pollution Prevention. From 1997 to 2009 CCME sponsored the Pollution Prevention Awards Program to give national recognition to companies and organizations showing cutting-edge accomplishment and leadership in pollution prevention.
Pollution prevention is particularly beneficial because it:
- accelerates the reduction and/or elimination of pollutants;
- minimizes health risks;
- promotes the development of source reduction technologies;
- uses energy, materials and resources more efficiently;
- minimizes the need for costly enforcement;
- limits future liability with greater certainty; and
- avoids costly clean-up in the future.
An example of pollution prevention in action is the Canada-wide Standard for Mercury-Containing Lamps, which calls for reductions in the mercury content of fluorescent lamps.