U.S. industry produces nearly 300 million tons of hazardous waste annually, and spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year trying to treat it, carry it away, bury it, or otherwise get rid of it. And as the amont of waste--and the cost of dealing with it--rises, corporate America is beginning to search for a better approach. Increasingly, industry is shifting its attention from treating and storing what comes out of the "pipe," to reducing the amount of waste produced in the first place.

Leading the way in waste minimization are large companies that can afford to initiate reduction programs--and which have the most at stake in their public image. Dow Chemical, Du Pont, 3M, IBM, and Monsanto are just a few of the firms that are taking the lead.

Recent legislation is an important impetus for these programs. Under the 1984 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, for example, Congress...

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