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Turning a profit on pollution prevention

Global business strategy will join forces with environmentalism in a Mizzou Engineering internship program slated to launch next spring.

The new pollution prevention intern program will train students to provide on-site environmental assessments for Missouri businesses and industries. Interns will spend 10 weeks analyzing a client business to develop recommendations for increasing efficiency and cutting costs under the program, co–sponsored by the College of Engineering and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and coordinated by the Missouri Environmental Assistance Center (EAC).

“Environmentalism now is a good business profitability strategy.”—Robert Reed

“Environmentalism now is a good business profitability strategy,” said CoE Research Associate Professor Robert Reed, who is helping develop the program. “If you’re generating a waste, you’re spending more money because you’re generating that waste.”

The internship program is grounded in high-profile industry efficiency strategies such as “lean manufacturing” or “Total Quality Management,” program coordinator and EAC Director Marie Steinwachs said. Uncovering and reducing environmental waste is a powerful business efficiency tactic, Steinwachs said.

It’s an approach that most other U.S. states already use with the aid of engineering interns, Reed said. As do those states, Mizzou’s pollution prevention program will focus on improving energy and water efficiency, minimizing solid and hazardous waste generation and reducing wastewater and stormwater discharges, he said.

Organizers plan to start accepting intern applications next month. The EAC will select five students—mostly engineering majors, though others may apply—for the internships. Program coordinators currently are recruiting host businesses.

The EAC interns will be required to complete an intensive, week-long training pollution prevention training course that Reed and Steinwachs will offer in May. But the course is open to all students, and as a non-credit course for business and industry participants, Steinwachs said.

By next year, the EAC hopes to offer the training via distance learning and Internet instruction.

“In terms of competitiveness, we think pollution prevention is necessary knowledge for every industry sector,” Steinwachs said.

Businesses interested in participating in the program should contact Marie Steinwachs at 573-882-5011 for more information.

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