Industrial pollution is a global problem. Every day, companies discard toxic materials and release waste that affects the environment, including the air, water and soil. Around the world, more than 80 percent of tap water contains plastic fibers. In 2016, more than 3.86 million tons of ammonia were released in the air. Industrial chemical discharges are responsible for millions of deaths worldwide. Governments and organizations are seeking ways to reduce industrial pollution and promote sustainability.

Industrial Pollution at a Glance

Technology has advanced tremendously over the last two decades. Today, we have access to more products and services than ever before. However, the same technology that makes our lives easier contributes to pollution, affecting our health and the environment.

Industrial plants, factories, ships, research labs and other businesses discard chemicals or emit harmful byproducts into the environment. Sulfur dioxides, nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds are among the most common pollutants. These substances end up in the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Carbon dioxide emissions per person, for instance, are expected to be around 13.3 metric tons in the U.S. alone by 2050. In 2017, over 63 percent of Americans have expressed their concern about the pollution of drinking water. Approximately 47 percent are concerned about air pollution. Globally, more than 2 billion people don't have access to safe drinking water.

As a business owner, it's your responsibility to implement industrial pollution control practices within your organization. Simple things such as sorting the garbage into different bins and investing in equipment that helps reduce waste can make a difference. If you don't know where to start, check local and national environmental programs designed to help companies reduce emissions and minimize waste.

Ways to Reduce Industrial Pollution

The prevention and control of industrial pollution are highly encouraged by governments worldwide. The U.S. government, for example, charges a carbon tax and subsidies alternative sources of energy, like solar power. Companies in certain industries are required to obtain pollution permits. Furthermore, organizations that decrease emissions below their specified rate earn emission reduction credits and other incentives.

There are a couple of things every business can do to reduce its carbon footprint and protect the environment. If you own a small business, for example, you can purchase energy-efficient equipment for your organization and choose office supplies and other products made from recycled materials.

Encourage your staff to use public transport or bicycles for their daily commute. Another option is to arrange for a bus to pick them up so they don’t have to drive to work and back home. Consider joining voluntary programs, such as the Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay, to learn about the most effective industrial pollution control practices and how to implement them in your organization. Companies that enrolled in the EPA'S SmartWay saved 215.4 million barrels of oil and $29.7 billion on fuel costs since 2004.

Depending on your industry, consider using alternative materials for coating, cleaning and other processes to reduce air emissions and waste. Edit and save your business documents on the computer rather than printing hard copies. Try to determine if your equipment can be adjusted to utilize materials more efficiently. Have industrial pollution control policies in place, especially if you operate a factory or production plant.

Develop a Corporate Sustainability Program

Successful companies like Apple, IKEA, Hewlett-Packard, Starbucks and Google have one thing in common: They all support environmental sustainability and have strict industrial pollution control practices in place. As a small business owner, you can do the same and develop a corporate sustainability program to which all employees must adhere.

Start by defining your values around sustainability. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals in this area and assign a person to monitor the company's environmental initiatives. Gradually switch to renewable resources and implement waste management practices. Even small changes such as reusing cardboard boxes, turning off your equipment when not in use and tracking the amounts of materials in stock can boost your sustainability efforts.