Pollution prevention

EPA Delves Deeper into Corporate Sustainability Data

Read the full post on the ACS Nexus Blog.

For more than two decades, EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program has required industrial facilities to disclose both their environmental releases and the measures they’ve taken to keep toxic chemicals out of our air, water, and land.  It was only recently, however, that the TRI Program began promoting this treasure trove of pollution prevention (P2) data as a resource for identifying demonstrably-effective green practices.

More than 10,000 source reduction activities are reported to TRI each year, but can we tell which ones actually reduce releases? A rigorous statistical analysis of all TRI data shows that the average effect is highest for the reporting categories that include raw material (e.g., feedstock chemical) substitution and switches to aqueous cleaners from solvents. And a separate analysis of the pharmaceutical sector indicates that green chemistry practices contributed to dramatic reductions in the early-to-mid 2000s.

But more meaningful insights lie ahead. Beginning with reports due July 1 of this year, facilities will have the opportunity to report the estimated annual reduction associated with each newly implemented P2 activity. This information will shed new light on which types of practices (including six new green chemistry categories added in 2012) are having the biggest impact on companies’ environmental footprints. As always, facilities that implemented green chemistry will also be encouraged to highlight their successes by submitting a more detailed narrative in the optional P2 section of the form (see video).

Triple Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable — St. Louis, March 31-April 2

Dates: March 31-April 2, 2015
Location: St. Louis, MO
For more information, visit http://nbdc.unomaha.edu/2015roundtable/index.htm

Who Should Attend

  • Technical Assistance Programs (TAPs) attend all three days for training, networking, new program ideas and to learn new skills
  • Craft Brewers attend Tuesday to learn how to make your brewery more efficient and lower environmental footprint
  • Green Business Recognition Programs (GBP) attend Thursday to learn about other Green business program models, initiatives that work, and meet your peers
  • Manufacturers attend Thursday to learn how to be more Lean and efficient within your operations to save money while lowering your environmental impact

Craft Breweries: On-site Training

Get training in pollution prevention assessments for craft breweries, the fastest growing segment of food processing, pollution prevention and lean principles. Training takes place at Schlafly Bottleworks and includes a walk-through of the brewery.
Day One Schedule

Networking: Getting to the Essence

A full day of facilitated interaction for P2 technical assistance professionals. We will share innovative program delivery methods; ways to measure P2 results; discuss barriers and benefits of P2 for businesses; and learn about technical assistance best practices, P2 policies, sources of funding, and more.
Day Two Schedule

Green Business Programs Breakouts

Featuring presenters from our regions and across the country, these sessions highlight different ways to structure Green Business Recognition or Certification Programs and details about initiatives that businesses are interested in adopting, their barriers and benefits.
Day Three Schedule

Tools for TAPs Breakouts

Technical Assistance Programs (TAPs) are in the business of marketing, cajoling, encouraging, being a technical resource, helping to implement changes at facilities and measuring it all. There’s alot to know! This session is designed to provide education on best practices and lessons learned, show new tools and resources, and give insight beyond the “low hanging fruit.”
Day Three Schedule

P2 and Lean Training

Geared for small or large manufacturers or any service provider that uses repetitive processes in their operations, this workshop teaches how to systematically analyze processes to identify the source of material waste or excess time and reduce or eliminate it. TAPs will get alot of information and tools to assist their clients.
Day Three Schedule

Slides available from EPA’s Corporate Sustainability and TRI webinar

Presentation slides from yesterday’s webinar entitled “Corporate Sustainability and TRI: Exploring P2 Information for Facilities and Parent Companies,” have been posted to www.epa.gov/tri/p2. A recording of the webinar will be posted shortly. To learn about future TRI events, sign up for their mailing list at www.epa.gov/tri.

New Web Resource for Safer Chemical Substitution & Alternatives Assessments

The University of Wisconsin Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center, US EPA and the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) have collaborated to develop the OECD Substitution & Alternatives Assessment Toolbox.

The toolbox is a publicly available website that contains resources relevant to safer chemical substitution and alternatives assessments. Alternative assessments are processes for identifying, comparing and selecting safer alternatives to replace hazardous chemicals with the objective of promoting sustainable production and consumption.

The Toolbox has four modules:

See also Current Landscape of Alternatives Assessment Practice: A Meta-Review, a 2013 OECD report that summarizes the literature on substitution of chemicals of concern (or alternatives assessment, which is the term in use in Northern America), with a focus on the current landscape of substitution practice in OECD member countries. It discusses definitions, principles, frameworks and tools for alternatives assessment, as well as the key drivers and audiences, and it identifies the contribution that OECD can make in this space.

Techno-Ecological Synergy: A Framework for Sustainable Engineering

Bhavik R. Bakshi, Guy Ziv, and Michael D. Lepech (2015). “Techno-Ecological Synergy: A Framework for Sustainable Engineering.” Environmental Science & Technology 49 (3), 1752-1760. DOI: 10.1021/es5041442

Abstract: Even though the importance of ecosystems in sustaining all human activities is well-known, methods for sustainable engineering fail to fully account for this role of nature. Most methods account for the demand for ecosystem services, but almost none account for the supply. Incomplete accounting of the very foundation of human well-being can result in perverse outcomes from decisions meant to enhance sustainability and lost opportunities for benefiting from the ability of nature to satisfy human needs in an economically and environmentally superior manner. This paper develops a framework for understanding and designing synergies between technological and ecological systems to encourage greater harmony between human activities and nature. This framework considers technological systems ranging from individual processes to supply chains and life cycles, along with corresponding ecological systems at multiple spatial scales ranging from local to global. The demand for specific ecosystem services is determined from information about emissions and resource use, while the supply is obtained from information about the capacity of relevant ecosystems. Metrics calculate the sustainability of individual ecosystem services at multiple spatial scales and help define necessary but not sufficient conditions for local and global sustainability. Efforts to reduce ecological overshoot encourage enhancement of life cycle efficiency, development of industrial symbiosis, innovative designs and policies, and ecological restoration, thus combining the best features of many existing methods. Opportunities for theoretical and applied research to make this framework practical are also discussed.