Northwest states Brownbag Lunch Meetings

The Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center hosts and attends informal brown-bag lunch meetings to stay current on issues affecting pollution prevention, and to hear interesting speakers who educate participants on topics relevant to our work and offer fresh perspectives to think about.

December 17, 1998— PBT Strategy
Pat Springer, EPA - Region 10

EPA has announced a national, multi-media strategy to reduce emissions of and exposure to persistent, bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs), highly toxic, long-lasting chemicals which can build up in the food chain and threaten human health and cause environmental harm. Pat Springer, EPA Region 10's lead on this project, introduced the draft strategy at our regular monthly brown bag on Dec. 17.

EPA's announcement came shortly after the Washington Department of Ecology announced plans to develop a strategy to virtually eliminate production and discharge of 27 long-lasting "bioaccumulative chemicals of concern."

The EPA strategy builds on the Canada-U.S. Binational Toxics Strategy to eliminate PBTs in the Great Lakes and several other EPA initiatives, including a national plan to minimize PBTs in hazardous waste (see below). The goal is to reduce human and environmental health risks from current and future exposure to high priority PBTs. Especially at risk from PBT exposure are pregnant women, children, and communities that live on subsistence foods. A multi-media approach is an important aspect of the draft strategy. PBTs can travel great distances and move easily among air, water and land.

There are three elements to the draft strategy:

  1. A national action plan for "Level 1" chemicals will be developed. Among Level 1 chemicals are chlordane, mercury, PCBs, dioxins and furans. The "Level 2" list includes chemicals such as cadmium, TBT, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Region 10 plans to develop a regional strategy focusing on PBTs that are high priority for the Northwest. However, there are different opinions on which chemicals should have priority. Region 10 initially plans to brief field staff on the initiative and to draw up a list of permits that could be affected. (A useful software tool is EMMI, a program which allows the researcher to identify regulations associated with specific chemicals. EMMI is available at the King County Hazardous Waste Library, 206-689-3051. Or, see a description at http://www.ntis.gov/yellowbk/1nty104.htm

  2. Screen and select PBTs to be added to the strategy, beyond the "Level 1" and "Level 2" list. No timeline has been established to carry out this element, and it probably will take several years to complete the process.

  3. Prevent introduction of new PBTs.
Lack of resources is a major issue. So far, Region 10 has received nothing to develop a regional PBT strategy or to carry out PBT reduction projects. In the FY 1999 budget, $9 million was allocated for PBTs, but EPA headquarters will retain $8 million for planning and screening PBTs. The 10 regions will have to share the rest.

EPA's hazardous waste program has initiated a strategy to reduce 53 PBTs in RCRA-regulated waste through voluntary measures employing P2. The focus will be on reducing toxicity of hazardous wastes, rather than merely the volume. The goal is a 10 percent cut in PBTs found in RCRA-regulated waste by 2001 and a 50 percent cut by 2005, as measured by TRI reports.

A suggestion that came up in discussion was for EPA to coordinate an information clearinghouse about PBT activities taking place nationwide.

EPA is looking for comments on the strategies, priorities and potential projects. Comments on both the national PBT strategy and the hazardous waste minimization initiative are due by Feb. 17, 1999. For more information on the PBT strategy, contact Pat Springer (springer.pat@epa.gov). For more information about the hazardous waste initiative, contact Jeff Hunt (hunt.jeff@epa.gov). PBT web sites include:

  • EPA - http://www.epa.gov/pbt
  • Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy - http://www.epa.gov/grtlakes/bns/index.html
  • RCRA Waste Minimization PBT Fact Sheet- http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/minimize/chemlist/pdt-fact.pdf
  • WA Dept. of Ecology BCC Initiative - http://www.wa.gov/ecology/eils/bcc/bccfaq.html
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    November 12, 1998— Insurance - Market Trends and P2
    William "Buff" Nelson, Willis Corroon, Inc.

    The insurance business is changing from a commodity to a customer service orientation, which may open up opportunities to work with insurers on reducing risks and liability through pollution prevention.

    William "Buff" Nelson, a broker with Willis Corroon, Inc., spoke about the changes taking place in the insurance industry at our regular monthly brown bag. One change is that the insurance market has a better understanding of environmental risks, and is willing to write pollution coverages that facilitate property transactions involving brownfields. The trend is toward long-term contracts with substantial coverage limits that, among other benefits, reassure lenders financing such transactions.

    From a P2 standpoint, an interesting change is the industry's shift in focus from selling insurance as a commodity to selling insurance as a service that informs customers about their risk exposures and helps customers manage them. This may involve insurers bringing in engineering and other experts to study a company's processes, safety plans, environmental management and compliance; developing a "risk matrix;" then writing policies for risks the customer wants covered.

    A key question is the extent to which insurers will work with companies to reduce and eliminate risk by presenting customers with pollution prevention alternatives. A related question is insurance companies using information developed by P2 technical assistance and recognition programs, such as King County's EnviroStars, to help customers reduce and eliminate risks. Nelson said there is good potential for working with agencies to help companies manage and reduce risks.

     

    October 22, 1998— Technical Reviews - Adhesives
    Catherine Dickerson, Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center

    PPRC's new technology review series on adhesives was the subject of our monthly Brown Bag meeting on Thursday. Technology reviews are useful tools that synthesize the latest research on technical approaches to preventing pollution. They describe alternatives to conventional technologies, technical characteristics, advantages, limitations, economics, and research gaps. The information is useful to industry, technical assistance providers, researchers, and research funders.

    Adhesives are used to manufacture thousands of everyday products, including packaging, building materials, fabrics, carpeting, shoes, computers, furniture, tapes, decals, and transportation equipment, to name a few. Conventional bonding agents use solvents such as toluene, MEK and TCA as carrier media. These solvents are regulated as HAPs and VOCs. MACT standards for them are under development. These adhesives typically must be cured in large ovens.

    Alternatives to solvent-borne adhesives can eliminate or greatly reduce air emissions, which in turn can reduce compliance costs, improve workplace safety, and lower hazard insurance costs. Three alternatives to solvent-borne adhesives are hot melts, radiant-cured adhesives, and waterborne. Below are very brief sketches of the three alternatives.

    HOT MELTS: Hot melts are cheaper than solvent-borne when costs are calculated on the basis of coating thickness yielded per pound. They cure in seconds without ovens, and do not lose thickness after cure. They are 100 percent solid and VOC-free. Special application equipment is required, they have a relatively short shelf life, and there is potential for worker burns.

    RADIANT-CURED: The two types of radiant-cured adhesives are ultraviolet and electron beam. They cure in seconds through application of UV or EB radiation. They are VOC-free, can reduce labor costs, have excellent chemical and moisture resistance, and have lower capital costs than solvent-borne adhesive systems. UV-cured adhesives may be subject to breakdown through exposure, EB systems may have higher maintenance costs, and exposure to radiant energy is a workplace safety issue for both types.

    WATERBORNE: Waterborne adhesives greatly reduce, but do not necessarily eliminate VOC-emitting solvents. Raw adhesive cost is less than solvent-borne, it's possible to use the same application equipment as solvent-borne, and waterborne products are widely available. Ovens are required for curing, wastewater and solid waste generation may increase, and on-site mixing will require corrosion-resistant tanks and piping.

    For a lot more information on these alternatives, check out the technology reviews on PPRC's Web site. You can also view the earlier technology review series on cleaning. Both sets of reviews are at http://www.pprc.org/pprc/p2tech/p2tech.html

     

    August 13, 1998 — P2 In Chemical Process Design and Environmental Cost Accounting in Commercial Software
    Scott Butner, Battelle's Seattle Research Center

    CHEMICAL PROCESS DESIGN: Chemical processes are typically designed through mathematical analysis. To complement analysis in ways that will help achieve environmental objectives in process design, Battelle has developed "heuristics," or conceptual road maps that lead toward solutions. The bottom line is that P2 can be incorporated into design at an early stage, and P2 strategies will emerge by addressing root causes of waste and considering life-cycle impacts.

    Among the "heuristics" are preventing byproducts, and minimizing the number of molecular species, mechanical losses, and maintenance wastes. Specific strategies include reducing reboiler temperatures to reduce the buildup of tar wastes, reducing the pressure in distilling columns, and designing batch process reactors so that it's easy to clean them.

    Underlying issues that drive the design process are shortening product and process development cycles, implementing waste reduction technologies, and coupling process and business models to achieve business-wide efficiencies. A key ingredient is defining the "search space" for seeking solutions to environmental issues, which simply means identifying places to look for answers. Heuristics help designers identify promising search spaces, such as maintenance-related wastes, that mathematical models may not turn up, and lend a qualitative judgment aspect to the design process.

    For an example of environmental performance criteria in chemical processes, visit Rhone-Poulenc at http://www.rhone-poulenc.com, and view the Gross Equivalent Pollution index in the company's annual health, safety and environment reports. The opening pages of the site are in French, but you should be able to navigate to the reports, which are available in English as pdf files.

    ENVIRONMENTAL ACCOUNTING: EPA is working with Peachtree and Bestware to incorporate environmental cost elements into the accounting software packages that they market to small businesses for general ledger, cost estimating and management reporting. The goals are to encourage businesses to make better informed decisions and improve their environmental performance. The elements will help businesses account in detail for the tangible costs of waste, which typically are not broken out in detail in accounts or management reports.

    The environmental elements will be available in next year's versions of the software. For more information on this project, visit http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/acctg/

     

    JULY 16, 1998 — The Natural Step
    Lynn Helbrecht, Washington Dept. of Ecology

    What does sustainability mean and how can sustainability principles such as The Natural Step be incorporated into the everyday activities of business and government? That was one of the key questions batted around today at our monthly brown bag. Our guest speaker was Lynn Helbrecht from the Department of Ecology, who works with The Natural Step’s Washington network.

    The imperative for sustainability is two trends heading toward a collision — declines in the "natural capital" that sustains life, and increases in human population numbers, affluence and technology. The collision can be avoided by using nature as the template for organizing society. A key to sustainability is understanding and working with the connections among the "three E’s" — economy, environment and equity. Example: Creating livable cities provides both habitat for wildlife and helps prevent social pathologies such as juvenile crime.

    The Natural Step was developed as a shared framework for guiding the activities of businesses and organizations toward sustainability. It includes four system conditions:

    1. Substances from Earth's crust must not systematically increase in nature,
    2. Substances produced by society must not systematically increase in nature,
    3. the physical basis for the productivity and diversity of nature must not systematically be diminished, and
    4. we must be fair and efficient in meeting basic human needs.
    Companies that have signed on to The Natural Step find their own ways of incorporating it into their activities. For example, Oki Semiconductor’s plant in Tualatin, Ore., is linking it to implementation of its ISO 14001-certified environmental management system. IKEA, a Swedish furniture manufacturer and retailer with a store in Renton, has adopted a "green steps" corporate environmental program similar to The Natural Step that includes energy efficiency, solid waste reduction, and other initiatives.

    A number of issues associated with implementing sustainability principles came up. One is bringing global sustainability concerns down to more immediate, regional and local levels. Another is changing government policies that reward depletion and waste.

    For more information about The Natural Step, visit http://www.naturalstep.org
    To read an article written by Bill McDonough about incorporating ecological principles into design, visit http://www.earthisland.org/ei/journal/s96-31.html

     

    JUNE 17, 1998 — P2 and Salmon
    Mike Sato, Pam McAllister, People for Puget Sound

    Salmon recovery, possibly one of the most complex resource management issues the urban Northwest has faced, was the topic of our monthly brown bag on Wednesday. Our guest speakers were Pam Johnson and Mike Sato, field director and communications director, respectively, of People for Puget Sound ( http://www.pugetsound.org).

    Endangered species listings have been proposed for salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound and the Willamette River, the two most heavily urbanized areas in the Northwest. Because of their complex life histories, salmon are an indicator of environmental health, from the highest reaches of a watershed to the ocean. The problem facing salmon is best understood by likening their habitat to an hourglass. The upper part is the higher reaches of watersheds and the lower part is the marine environment. The narrow neck, which salmon must pass through when migrating from streams to ocean, and vice versa, is the estuarine environment, a critical transition zone where habitat has been compromised by urbanization. In this transition zone, poor habitat in the form of "hardened" shorelines and bioaccumulative toxins in the water column are among the problems facing salmon.

    Listings will affect virtually every regulatory program for numerous business activities, including permits, enforcement and compliance. One issue that was raised is the adequacy of enforcement with existing permittees. This issue was discussed in a New York Times article published June 7. Another was the difficult matter of addressing the small, diffuse, non-point pollution problems that arise from everyday activities, such as stormwater runoff, lawn maintenance, cleaning, and motor vehicle usage. An observation made in discussion was that the true cost of damaging materials such as yard chemicals is not reflected in their shelf price, thus encouraging excessive use. A key question is understanding where pollutants are coming from and apportioning recovery resources accordingly.

    The topic of PPRC's next newsletter will be the role of pollution prevention in salmon recovery. Look for it to hit your desk sometime in August. In the meantime, you can learn more about this increasingly important issue by visiting the Washington salmon restoration page at http://www.wa.gov/esa. The Oregon Sea Grant publishes an on-line salmon newsletter at http://seagrant.orst.edu/communications/restore.html

     

    MAY 27, 1998 — Indicators
    Richard Conlin, Seattle City Council
    Dr. Marina Alberti, University of Washington, Dept. of Urban Design & Planning

    For today’s Brown Bag, we had two speakers who filled us in on the evolving practice of using indicators to measure sustainability trends and inform public policies.

    Richard Conlin, a member of the Seattle City Council who worked closely with the Sustainable Seattle indicators project, gave us the project’s history and the outcomes to date. There are two key elements:

    1. Indicators were selected through a process that engaged the public, and
    2. No ultimate sustainability goals were set, because sustainability is an evolving process. Indicators, instead, measure trends and directions.
    The Sustainable Seattle indicators are tools for public communication. They have been published three times so far, and a description of the project is available on the Web at http://www.scn.org/sustainable/susthome.html. The latest report shows that sustainability trends are mixed. Vehicle miles traveled, fuel consumption, and solid waste generation have increased. But air quality is improving and water consumption is decreasing.

    Dr. Marina Alberti, an associate professor at the UW who has done extensive research on indicators, presented results of a study of 42 indicators projects across the nation. Northwest projects included in the study were Seattle, King County, Pierce County, South Puget Sound, Willapa Bay, and Portland-Multnomah County. The study was designed to answer two questions: 1) how do communities define and measure sustainability, and 2) do indicators affect planning and decision-making.

    Lessons learned from the study are:

    1. a shared vision on the purpose of a project is essential,
    2. criteria for selecting indicators should be balanced among measurability, policy relevance, and scientific soundness,
    3. the process should be open,
    4. data must be credible, timely and disaggregated to be useful, and
    5. feedback mechanisms linking indicators with public policy formulation is important.
    Results of the study will be available later this year on a Web site to be developed by Dr. Alberti.

     

    APRIL 23, 1998 — Outlook for Energy Efficiency
    Marc Sullivan, Seattle City Light
    Nancy Hirsh, Northwest Energy Coalition

    Sobering reports on the future of energy efficiency were delivered by our two guest speakers at today’s brown bag.

    Our speakers were Nancy Hirsh, policy director of the Northwest Energy Coalition, and Marc Sullivan, strategic planning director at Seattle City Light. Here is what they told us:

    Many utilities in the Northwest and across the U.S. have greatly reduced financial support for energy efficiency projects. This has come about because utilities are cutting costs in the face of emerging competition in the retail electricity business. A recent report from Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimated that nationally, utility support of energy efficiency has fallen by nearly two-thirds in the last four years.

    Energy efficiency projects that are cost-effective will not necessarily be funded by private markets. Previously, utilities used grants and other support mechanisms to help overcome payback expectations and other market barriers. The experience in other countries that have "deregulated" their electricity markets is that hopes for the emergence of a strong independent sector marketing energy efficiency services have not panned out.

    For more information on this issue, visit Seattle City Light’s electricity restructuring Web page at http://www.pan.ci.seattle.wa.us/light. Information also is available from the Northwest Power Planning Council ( http://www.nwppc.org), or the Northwest Energy Coalition ( http://www.nwenergy.org/nwec).

     

    MARCH 11, 1998 — Production-Adjustment Measurement of P2
    Melissa Malkin, Research Triangle Institute

    At today’s Brown Bag, Melissa Malkin of Research Triangle Institute briefed the group on a new methodology for developing credible production-adjusted measurements of P2 performance. The methodology was developed by RTI for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. It is described in an EPA report, "Developing and Using Production-Adjusted Measurements of Pollution Prevention" (Document EPA/600/R-97/048). Look for it on the Web at http://www.epa.gov/cincl .

    Adjustments are used to filter out external factors, such as production changes, that may be causing changes in waste generated or quantity of chemicals used. By refining the data in this manner, changes in waste or chemical usage related to P2 projects can be measured with confidence. Credible measurements can help companies determine if they’re making progress toward cleaner production and keep interested citizens informed as well.

    The methodology developed by RTI is used to identify units of production that can be used in making production adjustments for TRI reporting and other purposes. For the unit of production metric to be useful, there must be a good correlation between quantity of chemical used or waste produced, and number of units produced. Application of the methodology at five test sites suggests that a carefully chosen, single-variable unit of product can be used to adjust raw waste discharge or chemical usage quantities in order to measure for P2 results. For example, square feet of metal coated was found to be a suitable unit of production at a metal finishing shop. The methodology seems most useful on high-value product lines with static processes.

     

    FEBRUARY 26, 1998 — ISO 14000
    Debra Reese, Matsushita
    Laurie Patterson, Oki Semiconductor

    The ISO 14000 series standards for environmental management systems is a topic of increasing interest in the pollution prevention community. Today, we heard perspectives from two Northwest companies that have certified to the ISO 14001 standard, Oki Semiconductor in Tualatin, Ore., and Matsushita Semiconductor in Puyallup, Wash.

    Laurie Patterson from Oki and Debra Reese from Matsushita said ISO certification has helped integrate environmental performance into manufacturing operations and, more broadly, is leading employees to think more deeply about the environmental consequences of their actions. Reese said the certification process put in place a system that makes Matsushita constantly monitor and improve its performance. Patterson said certification has resulted in P2 benefits: the value of waste reductions and related operational savings achieved at Oki last year totaled $31,000, after netting out audit and certification costs, even as production increased. Benefits include reductions in hazardous waste generation and improved water efficiency.

    Both speakers indicated that companies of any size and in any industry sector could benefit from certification.

    Among the questions that arose in discussion was whether ISO 14001 certification is being used in marketing. Oki has found that certification has helped improve customer relations as the company’s customer base has broadened.

    Another question was why relatively few U.S. companies have gone through certification. One of the issues companies have raised is concern about possible exposure to third-party lawsuits. Reese said that concern is misplaced.

    A criticism that has been raised about the ISO 14000 series is that they are management standards, not performance specifications. Both speakers said the system forces companies to scrutinize their environmental management systems and fix problems. Companies are pushed beyond compliance into looking for operational improvements.

     

    JANUARY 19, 1998 — Environmental Marketing
    Jill Bowman, University of Washington Environmental Management MBA Program

    For those of you who weren’t able to attend Thursday’s Brown Bag, we had quite a crowd listen to Jill Bowman’s presentation on environmental marketing. We even had to send out for more chairs.

    Jill’s talk, which included a wealth of presentation materials, provided an overview of environmental marketing: what the drivers are and what companies hope to accomplish, strategies used to market "green" products, and issues that arise when company claims create high expectations. Also relevant are consumer preferences. About 30 percent of consumers are attentive to environmental issues in making product purchases.

    Questions that arose in discussion included the role that government could play in environmental marketing, barriers to environmental marketing, and the role of ISO 14000, among others. One strategy that some companies employ is to position themselves as service providers, not widget makers. An example is Interface Carpeting. Keys to success are strong CEO support, and products that sell themselves based on quality and value, as well as environmental attributes.

    Jill’s talk was based on a conference held at the UW late last year. Companies as diverse as Hewlett Packard, Intel, Monsanto, Weyerhaeuser, Patagonia and the Deep E. Co. gave their perspectives on product positioning and marketing strategies. More information on this topic is available through The Green Business Letter, a journal for environmentally conscious companies. The Web site is http://www.enn.com/gbl.

     


    Compiled by the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center, 513 First Ave. West, Seattle, WA 98119
    phone: 206-352-2050, fax: 206-352-2049, e-mail: office@pprc.org, WWW address: http://www.pprc.org

    © 1999, Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center
    phone: 206-352-2050, e-mail: office@pprc.org, web: www.pprc.org