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Regional Roundtable Review 2014

November 12, 2014

Our 2014 Regional Roundtable was a great success. As always, the event yielded new and fruitful collaborations between a variety of area businesses and technical assistance providers.

The hospitality and food at the Silver Cloud (Seattle Stadium) were top notch. The location allowed easy public transport access for those coming from afar. Also, the stunning views – Safeco Field on one side and the Port of Seattle industrial hub on the other – provided ideal backdrops for discussions of industrial process maps and Washington state manufacturing. A few presenters simply pointed out the window rather than using slides. The window near our registration table overlooks the largest solar array in Washington State and offered an opportunity to talk about our involvement with community solar campaigns. Our guests enjoyed their experience at this hotel so much that we’ve booked it for next year’s conference, October 27 & 28, 2015. Mark your calendars!

Whether you attended the event or want to see what you missed, the below is a brief summary of each presentation / workshop. For pdf versions of individual presentations, go here.


15101125523_c731f8937e_z(1)Thomas Vinson, Lean and Green Workshop

“Pollution is a sign of inefficiency,” said Thomas Vinson at the start of the Lean and Green Training Workshop. Vinson showed how Environmental Management Systems work in concert with, not against, businesses’ goals and interests. “In many businesses, the EHS person is the one person responsible for environmental compliance,” Vinson said. “But how about instead of viewing environmental impacts as one person’s issue, how about we view it as everyone’s issue?” A successful EMS program integrates environmental considerations – like risk and environmental impacts – into every aspect of operations.

Using play-doh and hands-on group problem solving activities, Vinson helped vividly illustrate many ways to ensure successful integration of an EMS program. He reviewed key concepts in adhering to ISO standards and in creating informative process maps. He also listed a number of useful resources and techniques that environmental officers and technical assistance providers can use to successfully integrate green and lean systems. The key to integrating these changes at any business, Vinson said, is to win management’s support. Vinson ended by suggesting many ways to do so, and by having workshop participants practice their pitches to management.


15535318677_6b49a6211c_z(1)Bob Pojasek, Keynote, Pollution Prevention: Looking Back to Move Ahead

Bob Pojasek began the breakfast keynote speech with a brief history of pollution as told through his personal experience in the field, from the discovery and restoration of Superfund sites to the development of the forthcoming ISO Standards. Pojasek made coffee mugs tremble with anticipation for ISO 9001 and 45001, which Pojasek was involved in creating. Pojasek announced: “We are experiencing the convergence of process improvement, risk management, management systems, organizational theory, and sustainability. Some call this risk-based thinking.”

Pojasek extolled ISO’s risk-based approach to systems management. Such an approach, Pojasek said, powerfully aligns environmental management systems with the objectives and complexity of the organization. Pojasek suggested that “sustainability initiatives” will be a thing of the past. Under the new management paradigm, sustainability will simply be part of how businesses work.


Dan Ferguson and Tom Boucher, Pollution Prevention 101 and Turbo Plan

The Washington Department of Ecology’s Dan Ferguson suggested that we, as both businesses and the public, transform our view of technical assistance providers. We should see them not as rule-spewing goblins, but as super heroes. They’re here to help, not hurt. Ferguson said: “Our goal is to take large quantity generators and make them medium quantity generators, and make medium quantity generators into small quantity generators, and make small quantity generators even better.” Ferguson suggested a number of ways that Ecology’s expertise can help businesses both decrease pollution and save money. For example, in addition to providing assistance with energy or waste, Ecology staff can help sort through any regulation paperwork to help a business get right to the pages or actions relevant to their specific issues.

Ecology’s Tom Boucher gave a tutorial on creating a TURBO Pollution Prevention plan, an action required by any medium or large quantity generator of hazardous waste in Washington. Boucher showed how Ecology’s Secure Access Washington (SAW) web portal can help businesses do much more than record their waste. The program gives companies a history of their pollution prevention attempts so that they can see what worked and what didn’t. It also connects businesses directly to a rich catalogue of solutions to pollution problems, such as proven solutions for using less toxic solvents or other process materials.


David Kunz, Holly Davies, and David Bray, Legislation and Regulations Impacting Business – What’s on the Horizon?

Holly Davies, with the Department of Ecology, spoke about national and state efforts to reduce public exposure to toxic substances and move toward green chemistry. As part of the Governor’s Toxics Reduction Package, one proposal empowers Ecology to develop and maintain a list of priority chemicals that trigger Chemical Action Plans (CAPs). CAPs will consider a suite of recommendations – based on tools like alternative assessments and green chemistry research – to provide feasible solutions. As part of the plan’s green chemistry and source control focuses, Ecology will seek to collaborate with industry to “find field-tested, cost-effective, safer products and chemicals small businesses can use in the workplace.”

David Bray reviewed EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which promises to be an historic national attempt to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and a huge benefit to the public health of our country. Electricity production accounts for about 32 % of our country’s GHGs. To reduce emissions from this sector, EPA is empowering states to use the system of emission reduction that works best for their particular blend of technology and know-how. Emission reductions will come in four major “building blocks”: making fossil-fuel power plants more efficient; using more lower-emitting power sources; building more low-emitting energy sources; and using electricity more efficiently, or using demand-side efficiency programs. Bray also focused on how energy efficiency and pollution prevention programs can be used in State plans to meet emissions goals.

15535631800_1aeb3536d4_zDavid Kunz, with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, covered Oregon’s new framework for regulating toxic substances. In the vacuum left by an ineffective federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Oregon is implementing regulations that phase out harmful substances and motivate Green Chemistry, which “reduces or eliminates the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture, and application of chemical products.” For example, Oregon’s Safer State Purchasing Guidelines intends to use Green Chemistry in purchasing decisions and to encourage alternatives assessments in buy decisions. Oregon isn’t innovating alone. The DEQ is collaborating with Washington and California, among others, to create purchasing strategies and frameworks that will drive the marketplace toward greener products. For example, manufacturers of baby products are now encouraged to eliminate flame retardants and other toxins in their products.


Ken Grimm, Spray Paint Efficiency Training

Ken Grimm began the training session by covering 6H, 6X and other relevant paint regulations. This included a look at the impacts of painting nationwide, followed by ways to significantly reduce those impacts, create a safer work environment, and improve the profitability of the coating operation. Attendees viewed educational videos and then finished by practicing efficient paint techniques using a “virtual reality” paint system.


David Pearsall, GHS Mandates: How Do They Affect Your Business?

15534542289_df58c49da8_zDavid Pearsall gave a detailed look at the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of chemical hazard communication. Companies all over the country are in the process of switching their old systems to the GHS, which will function as “a common language for talking about hazardous materials.” Pearsall dug into the universal labeling and classification system to reveal some of the ways it communicates more information and clearer information than old systems. Pearsall ended by summarizing some of the free consulting services provided by Labor and Industries. For any interested businesses, “but mostly for smaller employers who don’t have the resources to hire outside consultants,” L&I provides free air and noise monitoring services as well as a job hazard analysis.


Issue Roundtables

  • 15534553899_35eae88d4a_zLynn Coleman, of the Washington Department of Ecology, and Soraya Dossa, with Impact Washington, summarized 14 Lean and Environment projects that have occurred in Washington State since 2007. The projects have achieved substantial results for small and medium-sized businesses such as long-term operational efficiencies, environmental improvements, and positive financial returns. For example, after participating in the program’s structured waste-identification and process-improvement activities, Accra-Fab, Inc. now saves $179,000 per year and reduced chemical use by 50% through process improvements to its ion exchange system. Coleman suggested that Lean and Green projects are effective “regardless of facility lean experience,” but that projects prove most useful and effective when the participating business has a “supportive management, willing to commit staff time and resources for process improvement.”


  • The EPA’s Carolyn Gangmark facilitated a discussion about the successes and future of the Environment, Energy, and Economy (E3) program – a program funded jointly by multiple federal agencies to improve businesses’ environmental and economic performance. The group discussed lessons learned and ways to continue to improve the program. Do businesses need clearer information, more tools, and/or better service delivery? One common refrain was that technical assistance providers need to improve peer to peer sharing of information and services. As many excellent assistant services exist, the group concluded, “We need to learn other program’s services and promote them to be more responsive to the needs of businesses.” Participants also noted that information about various technical assistance programs is currently too fractured. Info about multiple technical assistance programs should be available in one web portal to make these programs easier for businesses to find the right one.

The E3 group also praised successful work-study initiatives in the Northwest, such as Portland State University’s and Washington State University’s Energy programs, and suggested that these programs should be replicated at other universities across the country.

  • Bob Pojasek filled in for Lisa Rozmyn with the Washington Stormwater Center who was unable to participate due to an illness in her family. Participants had an opportunity to engage with our keynote speaker and facilitator in a small group setting.


Mark Kirschenheiter, Celebrating Successes of Crown Cork & Seal, Olympia

Mark Kirschenheiter provided details of Crown Cork and Seal, Olympia’s remarkable history as a can-making juggernaut in the Pacific Northwest. The plant first opened in 1959 to make cans for Olympia Brewing Company. Kirschenheiter gave us peak inside the current plant. Since 1995, Crown reduced generation of hazardous waste by 99.9 percent. “We’ve found that zero pollution is very hard to get to, and even harder to maintain,” Kirschenheiter said. A few of Crown Cork & Seal’s Pollution Prevention projects include: using an onsite Isopropyl Alcohol distiller, which reduced Isopropyl Alcohol use by 7,585 pounds from 2011; and renting deionized water regeneration tanks, instead of purchasing and operating them onsite. Renting DI tanks saves the plant 260,000 gallons of water per year, as well as significant maintenance, labor, and material costs.


Bob Pojasek, Process Mapping and ISO Planning

In the final afternoon session, Pojasek detailed the elements of successful process mapping, an approach to pollution prevention that he has used and refined throughout his career. He emphasized the benefit of talking to employees. “It’s amazing what they know,” he said. Getting employee input not only reveals the truth about how operations run or how information flows, but it also gives employees crucial ownership over environmental health and safety improvements.

15718471461_b1139d76e8_zPojasek then described some of the many benefits provided by a holistic risk-based-thinking approach to management systems. Businesses need to assess and manage risk, defined in the forthcoming ISO standards as “the effect of uncertainty on objectives,” to make good decisions that serve objectives. “Bad decisions bring down more companies than natural disasters do,” Pojasek said. Pojasek suggested that Risk Maps include both negative and positive consequences so that businesses can work to prevent negative outcomes while encouraging positive ones.


Thank you to all our speakers, participants, and sponsors! All of the above would not have been possible without you. We hope to see you all again next year!


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