Storytelling school

EPA launches “Pollution Prevention Works: A Storytelling Challenge for Students”

Students are encouraged to submit videos, written materials, or graphics that show pollution prevention activities at U.S. companies

WASHINGTON – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the launch of “Pollution Prevention Works: A Storytelling Challenge for Students”.

The challenge invites students to tell stories with videos, written stories, infographics, or story cards that illustrate how U.S. companies are reducing toxic chemical releases through innovative pollution prevention practices (P2 ) that have a positive impact on the environment and communities. Participants have a chance to win up to $5,000.

“There are so many great stories waiting to be told about how American businesses have saved billions of dollars, conserved natural resources, and reduced chemical releases by implementing pollution prevention practices. – and how these actions have benefited local communities”, said Jennie Romer, deputy assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention for Pollution Prevention. “Through this challenge, we hope to tap into the creativity and ingenuity of American students to bring awareness to these important practices.”

P2 is any practice that reduces, eliminates or prevents pollution at its source. P2, also known as “source reduction,” is the “ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” approach that helps businesses succeed.

EPA works closely with stakeholders, including businesses, consumers, and community-serving organizations with environmental justice concerns, to adopt P2 practices. Less pollution means less risk to workers and communities, which improves public health and environmental conditions. It also reduces costs for businesses as there is less waste to control, process or dispose of.

Between 2011 and 2020, EPA P2 technical assistance grants have helped U.S. businesses save an estimated $2 billion, reduce 814 million pounds of hazardous materials, and eliminate 18.6 million metric tons of gas Greenhouse effect.

The challenge invites high school and college students to use the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) P2 search tool to identify an industrial facility or set of facilities in the United States that has reported implementation of pollution prevention practices. Students will use this information to tell a compelling and informative story describing practices and other techniques resulting in positive benefits to the surrounding business, community, and environment.

The EPA will award a total of $50,000 in prizes as part of the storytelling challenge. Prizes will be awarded to individuals and/or teams in two categories: high schools and colleges/universities.

The EPA estimates that the program “Pollution Prevention Works: A Storytelling Challenge for Students”:

  • Promoting pollution prevention innovation to companies operating in the United States
  • Educate businesses on the potential, through P2, to save money, reduce regulatory burden and have positive environmental impacts on communities.
  • Increase knowledge of TRI reporting and analysis tools to find and communicate information on P2 actions that have been implemented.
  • Showcase companies that are implementing forward-looking pollution prevention practices and highlight their successes.

Additionally, the EPA is announcing a webinar to be held on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT, to educate students about the challenge. Register for the webinar.

All applications must be submitted by February 17, 2023.

Learn more about the EPA’s pollution prevention program.

Learn more about the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory Program.

Details on Pollution Prevention Work: A Storytelling Challenge for Students.