Presentations from the Toxic Use Reduction Institute’s Fall 2017 Continuing Education Meeting now available

December 5th, 2017 by

The Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Institute recently hosted an continuing education meeting. The presentations from that event are now available on their web site. They include:

Strategies for Life Cycle Thinking and Product Sustainability at GE Plenary Speaker: Bill Flanagan, Aspire Sustainability
Partners Update – November 16, 2017
Session A
Materials Accounting Refresher Jeff Bibeau, Tighe & Bond
Session B
Reducing Chemicals in Water Demineralization Systems Maura Hawkins, Berkshire Environmental Consultants
Session C
Business Value of LCA at GE Bill Flanagan, Aspire Sustainability
Leveraging LCA to Improve TUR Tom Gloria, Industrial Ecology Consultants
Product Sustainability: An Intro to Life Cycle Assessment & Circular Economy Sebastian Birke, ThinkStep
Marketing Sustainability via LCAs Raymond Lizotte, Schneider Electric
Session D
Improved Operations and Maintenance:
The Low Hanging Fruit
Heather Tenney, Toxics Use Reduction Institute
A Workers Perspective; Transitioning  to Safer Chemicals Steve Gauthier, Gauthier Safety Consulting
Session E
Resource Conservation Planning & Saving Energy with Metering Tools Rich Bizzozero, MA Office of Technical Assistance
Saving Energy With Meter Data Lauren Mattison, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Session F
Pollution Prevention Options Analysis System Jason Marshall, Toxics Use Reduction Institute
Using P2OASys Alicia McCarthy, Toxics Use Reduction Institute
Options Evaluation Tool Pam Eliason,  Toxics Use Reduction Institute
P2OASys Activity 1
P2OASys Activity 2

Regional U.S. EPA P2 grant project summaries now available on the GLRPPR web site

November 15th, 2017 by

Project summaries highlighting recent work by U.S. EPA Region 5 P2 grantees are now available on the GLRPPR web site. They include:

We’ll be updating the page as EPA releases new summaries.

 

Current issue of MnTAP Source now available

November 9th, 2017 by

The latest issue of MnTAP Source is now available. The current issue includes case studies in which MnTAP has partnered with Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Minnesota Department of Commerce, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to work with Minnesota municipal wastewater treatment facilities to identify significant energy efficiency (E2) projects.

The complete table of contents appears below:

  • Wastewater Treatment Plant Project: Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Generation – pg 1
  • Opportunities: What’s New – pg 2
    • Tune Up Your Food Processing Act!
    • Cleaning the Air in North Minneapolis
    • MnTAP’s Website Got a Makeover!
  • Safer Products:  – pg 3
    • Cleaner Brake Cleaners in Duluth, MN
    • Foundry Sand Silica Alternatives
  • Wastewater Energy Efficiency – pg 4
    • Large Energy Savings Found in Saint Peter and New Prague WWTPs
  • Energy Efficiency Impacts the Bottom Line & Climate Health – pg 5
    • Staff Snapshot: A.J. Van den Berghe
    • Operating Sustainably at Pine River
  • Results – pg 6
    • Applying E3 to Fiber Reinforced Plastics
    • Good Advice from 2003 – Tight as a Drum
    • Minnesota Materials Exchange
  • Symposium – pg 7
    • 2017 Interns Identify Over $1,514,000 in Savings
  • How can we help you? – pg 8

You can read past issues of the newsletter here.

Green Events Guide

November 7th, 2017 by

The Green Events Guide is geared to support planning and action around seven focus areas common to public events:

  • Food and Food Service
  • Venue
  • Communications and Event Materials
  • Vendors
  • People
  • Transportation
  • Housing

It is intended to assist community-based, volunteer event planning leaders and teams, especially folks in rural areas. This FREE online resource was developed by the EarthWays Center of Missouri Botanical Garden, with support from the U.S. EPA. The completed guide includes a webinar recorded on 10/20/17.

Michigan Retired Engineer Assistance Program P2 site assessment training materials now available

October 27th, 2017 by

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Retired Engineer Technical Assistance Program (RETAP) received a U.S. EPA State and Tribal Assistance Grant focused on Pollution Prevention (P2). Under this grant, RETAP developed training and guidance documents for a number of P2 tools, as well as templates for conducting on-site technical assistance and source reduction planning (SRP). The materials developed as a result of this grant are now available on the GLRPPR web site.

These materials are specifically designed to reduce toxic/hazardous material usage and disposal at small to mid-sized manufacturers. They include:

For further information on toxics use reduction and pollution prevention site assessments, check out these additional GLRPPR resources:

More tools for locating P2 information

September 22nd, 2017 by

In the not-to-distant past, it was difficult to locate pollution prevention and sustainability information. Those days are gone. Now, we go to Google and we’re inundated. In this post, I’ll point you toward some resources that you may have forgotten about when you’re trying to locate information to solve a problem. Whether you’re an organization that wants to start a sustainability program or a seasoned pollution prevention technical assistance provider, there’s something on this list that will help you do your job better.

Topic Hubs and LibGuides

Topic hubs and LibGuides are similar. Both are curated collections of resources on specific topics that also include explanatory information. The only difference is the delivery platform. GLRPPR converted its Topic Hubs to LibGuides several years ago. Guides of particular interest to the P2 community include:

The Pollution Prevention 101 LibGuide is particularly useful to those new to the P2 field. It includes links to essential resources and training that will help get you up to speed quickly.

GLRPPR Sector Resources

GLRPPR’s sector resources are curated collections of documents organized by sector or topic. Each resource includes a link and a brief description. Sector resources includes links to fact sheets, manuals, videos, journal articles, case studies, and software tools. Browse by sector/topic or search by keyword using Google site search.

GLRPPR Webinar Archive

GLRPPR hosts two to three webinars per year. Recordings of these webinars are archived on our web site and on our YouTube channel.

GLRPPR Help Desk

If you have a sustainability question or problem you’re trying to solve, the GLRPPR Help Desk is the place to visit. You get one free hour of literature/web searching and will receive a response within a week. Note that we won’t often give absolute answers. Instead, we’ll give you references and let your draw your own conclusions based on the available information. We also won’t answer homework questions.

E-Mail Discussion Lists and GLRPPR E-mail Newsletter

E-mail discussion lists are a great way to tap the hive mind of your pollution prevention colleagues. GLRPPR members are automatically subscribed to the Roundtable regional e-mail discussion list. P2Tech is an international discussion list for pollution prevention and sustainability professionals. To subscribe to either list, contact Laura Barnes.

GLRPPR’s e-mail newsletter keeps you up-to-date on sustainability news, resources, events, and funding opportunities. Subscribe here.

P2 Impact

P2 Impact is a collaboration between GreenBiz and the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange. Each month, P2 practitioners write about topics related to pollution prevention and sustainability. The goal of the column is to tell the P2 story to GreenBiz’s business audience. The column is currently on hiatus, but the archives are available here.

P2 InfoHouse

P2 InfoHouse, maintained by the Pollution Prevention Information Center (P2RIC), is a searchable online collection of more than 50,000 pollution prevention (P2) related publications, fact sheets, case studies and technical reports. It includes a vast number of legacy pollution prevention documents that were originally released in hard copy. The collection is searchable by keyword.

Zero Waste Network Success Story Database

The Zero Waste Network’s Success Story Database contains case studies that are examples of how real facilities saved money, reduced waste, and/or lowered their regulatory burden through innovative P2 practices. The studies are often written in a companies own words, with minimal editing.

U.S. EPA Pollution Prevention Tools and Calculators

U.S. EPA has links to general P2 informationP2 tools for chemical processes and purchasing; and calculators to measure the environmental and economic outcomes of P2 activities.

Alternatives assessment tools and a technical assistance case study

September 21st, 2017 by

Chemical substitution is a key tool for pollution prevention. Below,  you’ll find links to some key resources to help you assess less toxic alternatives to industrial chemicals, as well as an example of how one technical assistance program used alternatives assessment to identify less toxic degreasers.

Tools

SUBSPORT: Substitution Support Portal

SUBSPORT is a free-of-charge, multilingual platform for information exchange on alternative substances and technologies, as well as tools and guidance for substance evaluation and substitution management. It includes:

Program for Assisting the Replacement of Industrial Solvents (PARIS III)

PARIS III, developed by U.S. EPA, is a desktop/laptop application that allows users to find mixtures of solvents with specific physical and chemical properties that also have relatively low environmental impacts. The software helps users find replacements for solvent mixtures that are currently being used in industrial processes but have dangerous environmental side effects. The software can also be used to find solvents with lower environmental impact when designing new industrial processes, as well as more benign solvents that can be added to harmful solvents favored by industry to help reduce the harmful environmental impact of their processes.

CleanerSolutions Database

The CleanerSolutions Database, developed by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, helps users select an alternative cleaner that meets their needs. The information is based on lab testing done by TURI. Use the tool to find a cleaner for a particular contaminant; replace a solvent; identify products based on safety and environmental criteria; and search by vendor information.

P2OASys Tool to Compare Materials

Sometimes changing chemicals or processes can have unintended environmental and health impacts. TURI’s P2OASys is an Excel based tool that allows companies to assess the potential environmental, worker, and public health impacts of alternative technologies aimed at reducing toxics use. The goal is more comprehensive and systematic thinking about the potential hazards posed by current and alternative processes identified during the TUR planning process. The tool can help companies:

  •  Systematically examine the potential environmental and worker impacts of options, examining the total impacts of process changes, rather than simply those of chemical changes
  •  Compare options with current processes based on quantitative and qualitative factors.

Chemical Hazard Assessment Database

The Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) Chemical Hazard Assessment Database enables users to search for GreenScreen® and Quick Chemical Assessment Tool (QCAT) assessments. The purpose of this tool is to promote awareness of assessments conducted on chemicals of high concern, facilitate transparency and discussion, and reduce duplication of effort. IC2 also has alternatives assessment resources, including a guide and links to other assessment materials.

Safer Chemical Ingredients List

The Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL)is a list of chemical ingredients, arranged by functional-use class, that U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice Program has evaluated and determined to be safer than traditional chemical ingredients. This list is designed to help manufacturers find safer chemical alternatives that meet the criteria of the Safer Choice Program. Safer Choice also has other resources available for manufacturers.

Environmental, Health and Safety Data Resources

Although chemical manufacturers provide material safety data sheets with their chemicals, sometimes this information isn’t enough. TURI’s librarian created this guide to assist in researching environmental, health and safety information for chemicals.

Pollution Prevention 101 LibGuide: Green Chemistry & Green Engineering

The Green Chemistry & Green Engineering page on the P2 101 LibGuide provides links to a wide variety of alternatives assessment and risk assessment tools.

Tools for TAPs LibGuide: Chemical/Materials Substitution Tools

The Chemical/Materials Substitution Tools section of the Tools for TAPs LibGuide provides links and step-by-step instructions for using several chemical/materials assessment tools.

Technical Assistance Case Study

Degreasing: Finding Safer Products That Work

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) received funding from U.S. EPA to help businesses reduce the use of degreasing solvents while maintaining effectiveness and without increasing costs. You can find information about the project on MnTAP’s website.  For a deeper dive into how they implemented the project, see their presentation from the Triple Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable.

Using public data to identify pollution prevention opportunities

September 20th, 2017 by

Government agencies produce a tremendous number of publicly available data sets. In this P2 Week blog post, I’ll highlight some resources that will help you get started with a data driven approach to identifying P2 opportunities.

Tools for TAPs LibGuide: Data to Inform Technical Assistance

The Data section of the Tools for TAPs LibGuide provides links to data sources and instructions for searching them.

Webinar: Utilizing Public Data to Identify Technical Assistance Targets

The U.S. government has a wealth of data available about the environmental and economic impact of manufacturers. This webinar, hosted by ESRC,  demonstrates how to use the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, Greenhouse Gas, and Enforcement and Compliance Online (ECHO) databases and the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns database to identify industrial sectors and facilities that can benefit from pollution prevention technical assistance.

Information that can be easily obtained and utilized from these data sources is key for any technical assistance provider when developing a strategy to target technical assistance. Real-world examples located in regions 3 and 4 are provided.

Presentation slides, resources mentioned during the webinar, and a time-coded index for the video below are available on the ESRC web site.

Report: The Economic and Environmental Impact of Great Lakes Manufacturing: Snapshot of Emissions, Pollution Prevention Practices, and Economic Impact Using Public Data

The manufacturing sector is an important economic engine within the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. While complying with applicable laws and regulations, these facilities also have an environmental impact on the region. In this study, the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) used publicly available environmental data to establish a regional baseline for industrial chemical use and emissions; pollution prevention (P2) techniques; greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; and economic impact data for selected industry sectors in U.S. EPA Region 5. The report includes analyses of data from U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), the Greenhouse Gas Emissions database on Envirofacts, and the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns database on American FactFinder. GLRPPR has several other papers that focus on specific states or industrial sectors in the region:

How a competitor’s data can help your company cut pollution

This P2 Impact column by U.S. EPA’s Kara Koehrn explains how manufacturers can reduce pollution by using public data, chiefly Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) pollution prevention data, to learn from others in their industry.

Report: Strategy for using the US EPA Toxics Release Inventory to Identify Opportunities for Diffusion of Innovative Methods for Hazardous Waste and Toxic Emission Reduction

This report shows how P2 technical assistance providers can use TRI P2 data to identify manufacturing facilities that have implemented toxics source reduction methods and facilitate the diffusion of those methods to other facilities that may be facing barriers that block adoption of P2 practices.

 

Module 4: Identify and Target Facilities to Perform Hazardous Substances P2 Assessments

In 2013, U.S. EPA Region 5 (in collaboration with EPA headquarters) developed a 4-part training module to assist technical assistance programs (TAPs) in finding hazardous material reduction opportunities. This module demonstrates how the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program used TRI data to target their P2 technical assistance efforts. It also provides an overview of what types of information are included in TRI emissions and P2 data.

 

Learning from others: tips for locating P2 case studies

September 19th, 2017 by

Case studies are extremely valuable to pollution prevention technical assistance providers, but they can sometimes be difficult to find. Here are some search strategies for locating them, which you can use in WorldCat, literature databases, Google Scholar, or your favorite search engine.

  •  Try variations on your search terms.
    • Synonyms for pollution prevention include: waste reduction; waste minimization; source reduction; and cleaner production. Lean manfacturing may also yield relevant results.
    • Synonyms for case studies include best practices and success stories.
  • Use Google’s site: operator to locate case studies on specific web sites.

You can find links to P2 case study compilations on the Case Studies page of the P2 101 LibGuide.

 

 

Interns: A secret weapon to curb corporate pollution

September 18th, 2017 by

This piece, written by Cyrus Philbrick and Laura Barnes, originally appeared on GreenBiz in January, 2016 as a P2 Impact column.

In 1989, as part of a new program, the Illinois EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention placed a single student intern at an electroplating facility.

That student wrote a thorough report of pollution prevention (P2) recommendations. In 2004, one of the facility’s managers said that they were still using the report.

“Fifteen years later, they were still working through the list to implement one recommendation at a time,” said Richard Reese, director of the IEPA intern program. “That’s remarkable. And it shows some of the long term value of the program.”

Although many businesses and organizations want to become more sustainable, they often lack the time and money to implement specific projects. In many states around the country, intern programs are filling this demand by placing engineering and environmental science students at companies to conduct focused research on specific pollution prevention and energy efficiency projects.

As of November, about 44 pollution prevention internship programs exist in states around the country. IEPA currently places about 15 students per year at manufacturing facilities, trade associations, business development centers, government facilities and military installations. [update:  IEPA’s P2 intern program was discontinued in late 2016]

Each intern selected for the program is required to attend a one-week training class, which covers topics such as: net zero waste; energy efficiency (lighting, boilers, HVAC, motors/VFDs and air compressor systems); water conservation; process mapping; and renewable energy. Once on the job, the intern must adhere to a work schedule, follow company policies and regulations, work with other staffers and prepare bi-weekly progress reports.

Intern programs benefit students and businesses alike. Roger Price, director of the PennTAP intern program at Penn State University, praises the way the program lets students put theory into practice.

“The intern program allows students the first glimpse of how what they’ve been trained to do, to think and problem solve, applies to real world problems,” Price said. “I often hear them say, ‘Oh, now I see!’”

Measuring results

Bruce Dvorak, director of the Partners in Pollution Prevention (P3) program of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), gave numerous concrete examples of the ways that Nebraska businesses have benefitted from having dedicated student assistance with specific problems.

In one case, an ethanol plant traditionally had sent its waste sludge to a local landfill. The company had considered applying the sludge to farm fields but was concerned about running afoul of state environmental or agricultural laws.

A UNL intern helped the company sort through the legal, economic and environmental ramifications of the company’s waste disposal. By networking with both the state Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environmental Quality, the intern uncovered a simple solution. Bio-solid sludge qualified as wet distiller’s grain and could therefore be sold as animal feed. Recycling the sludge eliminated sending 9 million pounds of it to the landfill each year.

Intern programs also appear to have long-term positive impacts on students and for the companies that eventually employ them.

“The greatest impact of the P3 program is the potential contribution student interns will make as they join the workforce,” Dvorak said.

Based on a series of studies conducted on his P3 Program as well as others, Dvorak suggests that students that have completed intensive intern programs are more likely to apply source reduction principles in their workplace and are more able to quantify the impact of implementation.

Businesses realize significant savings by implementing recommendations. In 2011 and 2012 alone, the IEPA program helped facilities save over $1.9 million in operating and disposal costs. Through recommendations implemented between 1997 and 2014, the UNL P3 program saved businesses an estimated $21.8 million.

“Interns have paid for themselves in every capacity,” said Chris Meyer, a plant manager at Eaton B-Line out of Troy, Illinois. “In what they implement while here, and also what they leave us with.”

Last summer, a student intern at Eaton B-Line, which manufactures and supports wiring components, helped institute a program to separate outgoing waste. The program has allowed the company to reclaim oils that it can reuse rather than pay to have them disposed of.

“Interns also leave us with a tremendous amount of improvement ideas that we can implement over time,” Meyer said. “They have helped reduce our carbon footprint and put us in a better position to be a better partner with both our environment and our community.”

Dvorak estimated that the UNL P3 program saves each participating business about $90,000 per year.

“The standard deviation on that number is huge,” Dvorak said. “About one-third to one-half of the recommendations that are implemented don’t have a measurable positive payback. But there are other indirect benefits, beyond cost, that motivate the company to implement changes.”

Dvorak also notes that interns often provide more cost savings to businesses than studies have been able to show. When quantifying the impact of intern recommendations, he typically considers only those recommendations implemented in the first year or two after interns leave.

“We know it’s not uncommon for businesses to implement changes three or four or five years later,” he said. “So in many cases intern recommendations continue to pay off years after the intern’s time at that organization ends.”

In the case of the company that continued to implement changes 15 years after an intern’s departure, Reese said, “I think that facility is happy with their investment in that student.”

For further suggestions and information about internship programs, contact your regional pollution prevention center via the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx).