Sustainable Development Glossary – P

Join a Smart Word! We know how frustrating it can be to read an interesting article on sustainable development and not knowing certain terms. Finding a concise definition on internet can take some time. At the YMP we want to make your reading and learning easier with our Sustainable Development Glossary A-Z.


Is the term that you look for missing in the list below? Let us know in a comment at the end of this page. We will add that term for you!

particulates – A category of air pollutants that refers to small, solid particles or liquid droplets suspended in air. Such particles include soot, fumes, dust, pollen and spores, smoke, spray and even fog.


passive solar heating – A system for providing heat directly from the sun’s rays.


pasteurization – The process used to kill harmful bacteria (usually in milk) by heating it to a specified temperature for a specified amount of time.


patent – (1) Official document giving the holder the legal right to make, use or sell an invention and preventing others from imitating it. (2) Invention or process that is protected by law.


PCB – Polychlorinated Biphenyl. A synthetic, organic chemical once widely used in electrical equipment and other industrial products. It is highly toxic and can lead to cancer.


perception – (understanding, comprehension, thought, concept) (1) The act of perceiving. (2) A mental image. (3) An awareness of something through physical sensation.


perishable – (from the word ” perish” meaning die, decay, be lost) Likely to decay or go bad quickly, especially food.


persistent organic pollutants – Hazardous or toxic chemical compounds that are relatively stable and do not readily break down once released into the environment. They become more or less permanent features of the ecosystem, working their way up the food chain to reach high concentrations in the tissues of higher predators. Chlorinated hydrocarbons such as DDT are classic examples of persistent organic pollutants


pesticides – Chemical substances used to kill pests, especially insects.


PET – Polyethylene terepthalate. A type of plastic used to make soft drink bottles and other kinds of food containers.


petrol – The fuel used in cars.


petroleum – Mineral oil that forms underground and is obtained from wells and processed.


photochemical – A term referring to chemical reactions brought about by the sunlight. The reaction of nitrogen oxides with oxygen in the presence of sunlight to form ozone is an example of a photochemical reaction.


photosynthesis – The process by which green plants make carbohydrates such as sugar, using water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight.


phytoplankton – Tiny plant forms of algae that float freely on water.


pickling – In the past, pickling was used to preserve meats, fruits and vegetables. Pickling uses salt and acid (like vinegar) to inhibit the growth of bacteria.


plantation – A plantation is a large area of monoculture, as a tree plantation, a cotton plantation, a tea plantation or a tobacco plantation. A plantation is not a natural ecosystem.


porous – (from the word “pore” meaning opening, hole) (1) Allowing liquid or air to pass through, especially slowly. (2) Containing pores.


precious – Something of high worth or cost; e.g. diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds are precious stones.


preservation – (storage, protection, conservation, from the word “preserve”) (1) Keeping or maintaining something in an unchanged condition. (2) To keep food from decay (by bottling, drying, freezing, etc.).


preventative – (from the word “prevent”, meaning to stop, repress, hinder) (1) Something that prevents. (2) Devoted to, or concerned with prevention.


preventative measures – Usually refers to strategies and techniques used to prevent pollution.


prioritize – To list or rate (such as projects or goals) in order of priority, usually from most to least important.


proactive – Acting before a situation becomes a source of confrontation or crisis.


processing – (change, make ready, prepare) To put something (a raw material, food, etc.) through an industrial or manufacturing process in order to change it.


procurement – Procurement refers to the overall process of acquiring a product or service, and can include the purchase, hire, lease, rental or exchange or any other commercial transaction.



product – (goods, merchandise, commodity) (1) Goods produced by a firm, country, etc. (2) Thing or substance produced by manufacturing processes.


product life-cycle stages – The stages including the need, design, production/construction, use, and end-of-life management phases of a product or service over its life-cycle.


prokaryotic – Cells lacking a nucleus and other membrane-bounded organelles, e.g. bacteria.


prone – Having a tendency (to).


 public services – Public services are those services provided by the municipal government for the benefit of the community, such as fire and police protection, education, solid waste disposal, and street cleaning.


purify – (clean, refine, wash) Make something pure by removing dirty, harmful or foreign substances.

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