By DEQ Communications and Outreach Staff

DEQ’s Pollution Prevention (P2) Program offers free assistance to businesses in planning, developing, and implementing P2 projects that provide stakeholders with effective tools to prevent pollution, minimize waste, and conserve energy and resources.

It also recognizes Idaho businesses or organizations that have implemented pollution prevention measures by participating in activities that prevent, eliminate, and/or minimize waste production at is source, use nontoxic or less-toxic products, conserve energy or water, and/or reuse material rather than throwing it away.

Mirage Trailers, Esterline/Advanced Input Systems, and the University of Idaho are P2 partners and champions who worked to use materials, processes, or practices that reduce or eliminate pollutants at the source. Instead of managing wastes or pollutants through treatment or disposal methods, these businesses have prevented initial generation or reduced wastes and pollutants as well as reduced the consumption of resources such as raw materials, water, energy, or fuel.

Partners in Process Improvement

Mirage Trailers—Employees from Mirage Trailers, a light-duty trailer manufacturer in Nampa, enrolled in TechHelp’s Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course to improve production processes on several of their trailer lines. As part of its Green the Green Belt initiative, DEQ partnered with Mirage Trailers to use the waste reduction techniques learned in the Green Belt course. Boise State interns worked with Mirage to identify waste generated from the company’s 6-foot dump trailer line. The team measured the volume of scrap waste attributed to defects and resulting rework at the end of the production line, and identified several changes that could help to reduce the scrap. Implementing standard work instructions, ensuring delivery of correct parts, and constructing a resilient welding jig were estimated to have the largest impact on the scrap waste. Changes implemented resulted in a 300% increase in output for the dump trailer line, an annual 15,000-pound reduction in scrap waste, a carbon dioxide reduction of 22.95 metric tons per year, and a cost savings of $287,500 per year. Mirage’s process improvements have carryover potential for all industries, particularly for individual work stations on long production lines.

P2 Champions Recognized

University of Idaho Wood-Fired District Heating—The University of Idaho uses district heating for nearly all of its space heating and some cooling needs (through steam absorption). Historically, the university used three boilers, one that burned wood to heat water, and two that burned gas. Over 10 years, the energy plant manager worked extensively to improve the efficiency of the wood boiler. Modifications included quality control for wood fuel sourcing, boiler water treatment, boiler line descaling, and intake fan optimization to achieve complete combustion. These efficiency improvements reduced fuel consumption and allow the university to operate strictly on the wood-fired boiler; reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 50% annually, and reduced particulate matter emissions by 84% annually. In the past 15 years, the modifications avoided 481 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 197 tons of particulate matter emissions. The modifications and resulting savings have significant potential for carryover into wood products manufacturing, where wood-fired steam boilers have a universal presence.

Esterline/Advanced Input Systems—To reduce its environmental footprint, this Coeur d’Alene company made several improvements to its printed circuit board production facility. A dedicated lead solder recycling receptacle was deployed reducing lead waste generation from over 300 pounds per year, to just under .064 pounds per year—over 99% reduction. Upgrades to the production facility’s lighting and HVAC systems are anticipated to reduce electricity consumption up to 30% annually. Process improvements for the facility’s wastewater treatment system reduced wastewater generation from 420,000 to 25,000 gallons per year—a 95% reduction. These improvements have significant carryover potential for electronics manufacturers supplying military hardware that requires lead solder.

DEQ is committed to empowering and recognizing Idaho businesses that engage in P2 practices. For more information about DEQ’s P2 Programs, visit or contact Ben Jarvis at