|Abstract:||Today there are a multitude of federal, regional, state and local programs providing
assistance to small business. Many of these agencies have embraced pollution prevention as the preferred environmental protection strategy and are integrating it into the services they provide to industry. However, to remain effective in providing their services these programs require reliable
and authoritative sources of information about pollution prevention, waste reduction, cleaner production technologies, design for the environment, and environmentally sustainable practices. Information is critical to induce businesses to undertake pollution prevention projects. Companies need to understand the various P2 alternatives and their ramifications prior to making any changes in their facilities. In an attempt to encourage industry to implement pollution prevention, state and local environmental agencies established P2 assistance programs. These programs provide companies with technical reports, case studies, on-site assistance, referrals to
industry experts, newsletters, and vendor information. P2 assistance programs have found that obtaining current and reliable information on P2 strategies is challenging. When they can't find information they need, local P2 programs often develop it themselves. Often they end up producing material that programs in other parts of the country have already published. Pollution prevention programs have long recognized the value of a national network that links P2 information sources with the needs of local assistance providers. In 1995 the National
Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) published Organizing a National Pollution Prevention Network, which outlined some of the issues that surround the dissemination of P2 information. The report recommended a structure involving regional centers that would be linked together to create a
national network. EPA piloted the development and coordination of two regional centers. These regional centers were responsible for working directly with and coordinating among the state and local pollution prevention programs, establishing regional priorities and serving as a point of contact for the regions. This structure was proposed so that P2 information:
• Is maintained at the local level;
• Is made readily accessible and easy to search;
• Is updated and of high-quality;
• Identifies primary/expert sources of information;
• Is integrated into a sector- and process-specific synthesized format; and
• Addresses the needs of local and state agencies.
In February 1997 the NPPR Information and Technology Transfer Workgroup issued a report titled "Establishing a National Pollution Prevention Network", which reaffirmed the structure proposed in
the 1995 report and proposed a cost estimate for network operations. This report also provided an overall vision for a national P2 information network and an estimated scope of work for network operations. "Recommendations for a National Information Network" builds on these reports and provides detailed information on (1) the lessons learned from two regional centers, (2) the challenges facing the existing network, (3) the existing infrastructure for a national P2 information network, (4)
the recommendations for needed improvements and support and (5) the recommendations for the national P2 information network. The purpose of this report is to detail the experiences of two regional centers in their efforts to develop interstate and inter-regional programs and present recommendations for future efforts in this area.