Harry M Freeman Risk Reduction Engineering Laboratory US Environmental Protection Agency


Administrator William K. Reilly in a statement made May 25, 1989 before a committee of the U. S. House of Representatives stated:

"Existing environmental statutes, and our national pollution-control programs of the past twenty years, have emphasized containment and treatment of pollutants after they are produced. The widespread use of air pollution scrubbers, wastewater treatment plants and the recent introduction of land disposal restrictions are, in fact, significant accomplishments that show our nation's commitment to a clean environment. Nevertheless, our efforts have focused on end-of-the-pipe treatment process. The limitations of environmental protection from that aspect only are becoming increasingly apparent. There is a growing recognition that traditional approaches—which stress treatment and disposal after pollution has been generated — have not adequately dealt with existing environmental problems. Nor will they provide an adequate basis for dealing with emerging problems such as global warming, acid rain, and stratospheric ozone depletion. EPA believes that further improvements in environmental quality will be best achieved by preventing the generation of pollutants that may be released to the air, land, and water by eliminating or reducing them at their source and encouraging environmentally-safe recycling of those which cannot be eliminated. We need to supplement our efforts with a new strategy-one that couples conventional controls and vigorous enforcement of our current laws, with pollution prevention. We must cut down on the actual amount of toxics and other pollutants being generated".

Such an approach to solving environmental pollution problems is also one of the recommendations of a recent report by the EPA's Science Advisory Board, entitled "Future Risk: Research Strategies for the 1990's". This SAB report recommended the following hierarchical approach to environmental risk reduction:

(1) Wherever possible, environmental protection efforts first should be aimed at minimizing the amount of wastes or pollutants generated. Waste reduction at its source through product design changes, industrial process changes, or material substitution should be a primary objective.

(2) For those wastes or pollutants generated, every effort should be made to recycle or reuse them in an environmentally sound manner.

(3) Treatment, destruction and detoxification technologies should be applied to those wastes and pollutants that cannot be reduced or recycled.

(4) Containment and isolation approaches should then be applied to any remaining residuals in order to minimize environmental and human exposures.

Reflecting a commitment to environmental improvement approaches based on pollution prevention, the EPA is implementing a broad based program throughout its offices and regions. This paper discusses that part of the Agency's pollution prevention program being carried out by the Office of Research and Development.

OR and D Overview

The Office of Research and Development, Risk Reduction Engineering Laboratory, is the EPA laboratory primarily responsible for the Agency's hazardous waste research. As such, it has for the past several years had a research program to promote waste minimization, a term that includes source reduction and recycling as does pollution prevention, but is generally recognized as relating primarily to hazardous waste rather than the broader universe addressed by pollution prevention. Prior to July 1, 1989, the Pollution Prevention Research Branch was called the Waste Minimization Branch. The retitling of the branch reflects the RREL's intention to broaden the branch's program to include pollutants including hazardous wastes.


ORD has defined six fundamental goals for the its pollution prevention research program. These goals build upon existing ORD pollution prevention efforts, and broaden the research scope to enable the Agency to identify, develop, demonstrate, and transfer effective pollution prevention technologies and techniques. These goals are to:

1. Stimulate the development and use of products that result in reduced pollution. This goal focuses on the pollution prevention problems related to the use and disposal of specific products. Although products are often considered to include only manufactured items, as used here, the term also includes chemicals used in manufacturing processes and service industries; packaging for parts,commodities, and manufactured items; and fluids and gases used as solvents, carriers, refrigerants, coatings, and lubricants, and additional items of commerce. These materials often are not viewed as wastes or industrial discharges, but do in fact impact the environment and pose a risk to health.

2. Stimulate the development and implementation of technologies and processes that result in reduced pollution. Numerous pollution prevention opportunities exist in manufacturing, mining, agricultural, and service processes. This goal addresses the need to focus research activities on these processes to enable broad-scale reduction in pollution generation.

3. Expand the reusability and recyclability of wastes and products and the demand for recycled materials. Research is needed to improve the reusability and recyclability of wastes and products, and to increase the capacity and demand for recycled materials in production processes. Such improvements will prolong the useful life of materials and reduce the environmental impacts of wastes and pollutants from all waste streams.

4. Identify and promote the implementation of effective non-technological approaches to pollution prevention. This research area includes socioeconomic and institutional factors that motivate behavior and foster changes in behavior as they relate to incentives for adopting pollution prevention techniques. Research is needed to understand the roles of non-technological factors in implementing pollution prevention approaches and their impact on the effectiveness of pollution prevention programs.

5. Establish a program of research that will anticipate and address future environmental problems and pollution prevention opportunities. Research is needed to assist EPA in anticipating and responding to emerging environmental issues and to evaluate new technologies that may significantly alter the status of pollution prevention programs in the future. A flexible program is needed for conducting research that may impact long-term pollution prevention program directions and objectives. This research program will enable EPA to anticipate and potentially prevent future environmental problems. In addition, this program provides the Agency with the ability to address emerging issues which will shorten the time between detection of a new environmental problem and EPA's ability to respond with an effective program.

6. Conduct a vigorous technology transfer and technical assistance program that facilitates pollution prevention strategies and technologies. It is imperative that the results of research investigations conducted under this program or by industry and academic research programs are communicated to appropriate audiences.

Existing Programs and Example Projects

In FY89 several major, largely extramural, programs were established within the Pollution Prevention Research Branch to give the Agency the tools to achieve its pollution prevention research goals. These programs are briefly described below and several example projects highlighted.

Waste Reduction Innovative Technology Evaluation Program (WRITE)

The WRITE Program is designed to identify, evaluate, and/or demonstrate the use of innovative engineering and scientific technologies to reduce the volume and/or toxicity of wastes produced from the manufacture, processing, and use of materials. The WRITE Program is broad in technical scope and addresses the reduction of pollutants across all environmental media: air, land, surface water and groundwater. Attention is directed toward methodologies with the potential for reducing the quantity and/or toxicity of waste produced at the source of generation, or to achieve practicable on-site reuse or recycling of waste materials. Strong consideration is given to the applicability of a technique on an industry-wide basis and across industries. Industries of primary interest under the WRITE Program include chemical, fabricated metals, electronic, printing and publishing, lumber, petroleum, transportation, food and textile.

The WRITE Program has three sub-programs; the WRITE Pilot Program with State and Local Governments, the WRITE Program with Industry and the WRITE Research Program.

WRITE Pilot Program with State and Local Governments

The WRITE Pilot Program with State and Local Governments addresses information transfer needs between government and industry. Through the joint efforts of EPA and various State and local governments, technical and economic evaluations of source reduction and recycling technologies are being conducted of manufacturing and processing operations across approximately twenty industries. This joint state/federal approach was chosen because State and local government officials are often more familiar with local industrial practices and regional manufacturing and economic interests that can affect the potential success and widespread applicability of proposed pollution prevention technologies. States currently participating in this pilot program include California, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington.

An example of a USEPA/State WRITE Program is the one with the State of California. The California\EPA WRITE Program is a joint research program undertaken by the Alternative Technology Section of the Toxic Substances Control Division within the Department of Health Services of the State of California and the EPA to identify and evaluate source reduction and recycling technologies within the State of California. A Solicitation of Interest (S&I) announcing the State of California's Hazardous Waste Reduction Award and the California\EPA WRITE Program was distributed to over 2000 industries, trade associations and other organizations within the state. Information obtained from this SOI has been used to identify a candidate pool of interested companies that have developed innovative waste reduction technologies. Those technologies determined to be the most successful and having the broadest application for waste reduction throughout the State will be evaluated under the California\EPA WRITE Program throughout the next three years. Companies with the most innovative technologies are recognized within California and receive national recognition for their efforts to reduce the generation of waste through the WRITE Program.

Since initiation of the California\EPA Program earlier this year, several waste reduction technologies have been identified as potential candidates for further evaluation. One facility participating in the program and where several waste reduction technologies have been implemented is Pomona Division of General Dynamics Company, located in southern California.

WRITE Program with Industry

The WRITE Program with Industry is designed to evaluate innovative pollution prevention technologies currently under development or in use by large industry. One of the objectives of this program is to encourage the transfer of knowledge and technology concerning pollution prevention practices between large companies and their mid- to small-sized counterparts. On-site evaluations of technologies include direct EPA cooperation with companies or via industrial trade associations and are funded jointly by the EPA and the company or trade association involved.

Current efforts under this program include a study to quantify waste reduction measures by industry sector and to develop more effective tools to measure and compare waste reduction across industries as well as within an industry. Another study concerns the evaluation of waste reduction technologies in the transportation industry such as the use of freon recapture devices in automobile garages. A study is also underway to evaluate the chemical substitution of water-based cleaners for organic solvents in a small parts cleaning operation. In this project, the Pollution Prevention Research Branch in cooperation with a local company is conducting an in-house project to evaluate the substitution of a water based cleaner for trichloroethylene and methanol. One concern in substituting for trichloroethylene or methanol is that the new cleaner may deteriorate the surface of the part and in some way weaken the bond between the substrate and the coating. Bench scale cleaning test results are positive and preliminary tensile strength tests which measure the strength of the bond between substrate and coating appear promising.

WRITE Research Program

In addition to the technology evaluation programs, the WRITE Program includes a research subprogram that focuses on pollution prevention research needs of a more anticipatory nature (i.e., the generation of information to allow for future development of new pollution prevention techniques). Projects under this component of the WRITE Program address various technical obstacles to waste reduction and to chemical-, wastestream- and industry-specific waste reduction issues. These research efforts are conducted with industrial firms, universities, other government agencies, technical societies and industrial trade organization.

While emphasis to date has been on industrial processes, the area of focus is being enlarged to include techniques for pollution prevention for any source and especially those that are identified with posing significant risk in terms of high toxicity or high threat or those producing large amounts of pollution.

One example of ongoing research in this area is an Interagency Agreement between the EPA and the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Products Laboratory. While significant effort has been placed on paper recycling, major impediments have continued to exist that have kept this operation from becoming generally cost effective and widely practiced. What is lacking is a method for making recycled paper in relatively small and inexpensive plants near the source of the waste generation area. Additionally, these plants have to be less dependent on large sources of cheap water so that locations for plant sites are not as limited and wastewater is not as large a consideration and cost item. The present project deals with the development of a "dry" pulping process and scaled down machinery that can be fitted to the recycling of newsprint available in a metropolitan area. The pulping process is also to include techniques that maintain fiber quality, or at lease minimize fiber degradation during the pulping process.

Another active project included in the WRITE Research Program is a study to demonstrate the effectiveness of using coated filter media for improved removal of metal in aqueous waste, followed by metal recovery and filter media reactivation and reuse. Chrome is the targeted metal, although this process is applicable to a range of metals and metal mixtures. Selective metal recovery techniques using various coating materials, filter substrates, and pH control are being examined. This process has the potential for significant improvement over existing methods that use coagulation, settling and filtration and produce a large mass of sludge that is difficult to dewater and large volumes of wastewater that require treatment.

Waste Reduction Evaluations at Federal Sites Program (WREAFS)

This program consists of a series of demonstration and evaluation cooperative projects between EPA and other federal agencies to demonstrate and encourage pollution prevention. The three major goals of WREAFS are: 1) to perform opportunity assessments using the EPA "Waste Minimization Opportunity Assessment Manual", 2) to conduct research, development and demonstration projects with other federal organizations through cooperative agreements, interagency agreements and contracts that will provide innovative, cost-effective pollution prevention solutions and, 3) to transfer pollution prevention technical information and technology between the federal agencies and the private sector.

Many federal activities have established waste reduction plans and programs in the past few years. Among the more well established programs are those within the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Defense (DOD). An overall goal within DOD is to reduce hazardous waste generation a total of 50 percent by 1992 compared with 1985 levels. Several operation and process opportunities for waste reduction exist at Federal sites that will reduce hazardous waste and result in cost avoidance or cost reduction as well as productivity, environmental, and human health benefits. Waste minimization opportunities can be applied throughout the Federal community in fabrication production and/or maintenance processes, depending on the waste generating function. Industrial activities that support Federal activities through in-house or contract efforts (whether on-site or off-site) are generally the same activities as those within the private sector. The application may vary, depending on the final product; however, waste reduction techniques can be successfully employed in both the public and private sectors.

The initial steps for WREAFS pollution prevention projects usually begin with an opportunity assessment of the specific operation. For example, within DOD the greatest quantities of hazardous waste are generated by plating, cleaning and stripping operations. By conducting waste minimization opportunity assessments at several of these operations, pollution prevention alternatives and recommendations can be shared with similar operations. An assessment of a painting and coating operation at the U. S. Navy Shipyard in Philadelphia was conducted and the resulting report presents a complete assessment of the operation with recommendations for implementation. This information will be available for other military installations as well as other potential applicants within the public and private sectors. At least six opportunity assessments are scheduled i n Fyl989 under the WREAFS Program.

The WREAFS Program also has a research component. Under a cooperative agreement between EPA and Auburn University and an interagency agreement between EPA and the USAF at Tyndall Air Force Base, research is being conducted to develop additives for vapor-degreasing solvents that will be less toxic and more easily available than currently used additives. Results of this study may impart pollution prevention research results on the use of solvents and inhibitors within the public and private sectors. The USAF facilities are high volume consumers of chlorinated solvents for degreasing operations and extending the life of inhibitors and additives to solvents as well as research for non-hazardous inhibitors will solve many USAF treatment and disposal issues.

Waste Reduction Assessments Program (WRAP1

The WRAP Program encourages the industrial and commercial sector to actively seek out opportunities to reduce the generation of hazardous and non-hazardous waste by utilizing waste minimization assessments. The EPA has published a manual for conducting assessments. This manual, "The Waste Minimization Opportunity Assessment Manual" (EPA/625/7-88/003) is available free from RREL. The manual was prepared for individuals who are responsible for planning, managing and implementing waste minimization activities at plant and management levels. The WRAP Program is presently supporting several projects to demonstrate the use of this manual.

One such project is a cooperative agreement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to conduct assessments at thirty New Jersey companies across ten industry areas. The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is participating as a subcontractor and will be coordinating the assessments. NJDEP calls this effort the "Assessment for Reduction and Recycling Opportunities for Hazardous Waste (ARROW)" project. The objective of the project is to promote companies to conduct in-house assessments with technical assistance provided by NJIT. Assessments are expected to begin in July 1989 and will continue through October 1990.

Also, as part of the WRAP Program, the EPA in cooperation with the California Department of Health Services is producing a series of industry specific manuals that address waste minimization opportunities in a variety of industries. These manuals are in various stages of development but are expected to be available by the Fall of 1989. The industries addressed in the series include (1) paint shops, (2) pesticides, (3) commercial printing, (4) metal fabricators, (5) circuit board manufacturing, (6) hospitals and (7) research and educational institutions.

The WRAP Program, in an attempt to practice what we preach, is in the process of carrying out a waste minimization assessment at our own facility, the A. W. Briedenbach Environmental Research Center. The Center houses three major research laboratories as well as several administrative and support organizations. The study is evaluating waste generation and will propose waste minimization options for analytical laboratories, on-site pilot plant operations, and general office work areas.

An assessment of waste minimization opportunities for medical wastes has been scheduled for the Veterans Administration Hospital in Cincinnati. The hospital offers a wide range of services including a large outpatient clinic and dental department. The waste minimization assessment will focus on medical wastes, not including wastes from such support functions as offices, cafeterias, etc.

Small Business Technical Assistance

Technical assistance to small business is being provided through a cooperative agreement with the University City Science Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This project has completed the first year of a scheduled three-year duration. Waste Minimization Assessment Centers have been established at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) and Colorado State University (Ft. Collins), with a third center at the University of Louisville just beginning operations. Faculty and student teams from these centers provide a waste minimization assessment at no cost to a small business lacking the expertise or resources to initiate a waste minimization program. However, the host facility is responsible for all costs of implementing the waste minimization recommendations. Eight assessments have been completed as of June 1989. Information on implementation of alternatives, including actual costs and benefits, will be obtained through follow-up visits 12 to 18 months after an assessment is completed.

Pollution Prevention Information Clearing House

EPA has been mandated by the Congress to establish a national clearinghouse to provide easily accessible and reliable information on waste minimization/ pollution prevention. The clearinghouse is to contain both technical information on how to identify and implement pollution prevention opportunities, and general information conveying the message that, "We, as a society, must begin to integrate pollution prevention into the way we design, build, buy and consume."

EPA's Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (PPIC), which is supported by the Agency's Pollution Prevention Office as well as OR&D, has been created to fulfill this mandate. PPIC (pronounced pea-pick) is being pilot-tested by some 300-400 users this year and will be in full operation, accessible to all, in 1990. PPIC collects and disseminates technical and other information on pollution prevention through a telephone hotline and an electronic information exchange network. Indexed bibliographies and abstracts of reports, publications and case studies on pollution prevention will be available. PPIC will also include a calendar of pertinent conferences and seminars, information on federal and state activities and legislation, information on pollution prevention abroad, a directory of waste exchanges and lists of knowledgeable contacts within state organizations, trade associations and the EPA. Copies of various reports will be made available by the clearinghouse either by electronic transfer or through the National Information Service (NTIS) or other sources.

Waste Reduction Institute for Scientists and Engineers

In order to provide a liaison channel between researchers in the field of pollution prevention and potential implementors of new and improved pollution prevention techniques, the EPA has joined with the University of Cincinnati in establishing the Waste Reduction Institute for Scientists and Engineers (WRISE). This new channel is important because of the unique nature of EPA's pollution prevention program and because EPA's ultimate clientele for this research are, to a large part, individuals in industry with whom EPA, traditionally, has not directly dealt, i.e., those people concerned with the processes that generate pollutants as opposed to those people who are concerned with the treatment and disposal of wastes.

Some trade organizations and technical societies were invited to submit nominees for membership in WRISE and 20 individuals have been selected as initial Institute members. All possess credentials of accomplishment in pollution prevention, show evidence of a continuing interest in environmental protection and are, or have been, responsible for plant management or process design/selection or are highly knowledgeable of industrial operations for which waste reduction techniques are applicable.

The goal of WRISE is to assist the EPA in fulfilling its role as a catalyst in achieving widespread and expeditious adoption of pollution prevention concepts across the United States. Specific functions of the WRISE are being defined by the members and may include, for example, analyzing possible cross-generator applications of successful waste minimization techniques, commenting on the practicality and applicability of novel pollution prevention techniques, assisting in obtaining the cooperation of potential hosts for waste minimization demonstrations and encouraging and assisting universities to introduce and emphasize waste minimization concepts in their plant design and process design curricula. Functions will be accomplished during one or two annual meetings plus through a variety of volunteered individual assignments.

Conferences and Seminars

The EPA is committed to encouraging the exchange of information on pollution prevention through related seminars and conferences. In addition to co-sponsoring this conference on metal waste management alternatives, the Agency has recently supported a series of waste minimization technology transfer seminars that were presented in all ten of the Agency's regions, an international conference on clean technologies held in Geneva, Switzerland, and several conferences in cooperation with state agencies.

In June, 1990, the EPA and International Association for Clean Technology (IACT) are holding an international conference in Washington, D.C. to explore the innovative technologies and socio-economic issues related to pollution prevention/waste reduction. This three-day conference will examine principles and effects in the adoption of clean technologies and clean products throughout the world community.

Future Plans

The SAB summarized EPA's role in pollution prevention as follows:

"EPA is the only entity that has a clear mandate to conduct research to gather information on effective approaches and to transfer that information to all who could use it nationwide. This information collection, evaluation, and dissemination role is a key component of the research function and one that EPA is uniquely suited to serve. In short, no individual local government or private business is likely to fund research needed by many local governments and private businesses to help reduce their waste streams. Yet, as more and more elements of our society become directly involved in the business of risk reduction, such research clearly is needed."

Building on the structures discussed in this paper, the Agency intends to expand its pollution prevention research activities in FY1990 to incorporate more projects that stimulate the development of environmentally friendly products, and expand the recyclability of wastes. A special emphasis is to be given to projects directed to mitigating non-hazardous solid waste problems through approaches based on source reduction. These include research in the areas of improving (substituting) traditional materials of construction, construction methods that improve product life and used product recyclability characteristics. For totally new products, existing product design practices need to be modified to include a strong emphasis on pollution prevention from cradle-to-grave. Included in such design considerations should be an evaluation, of the environmental impact of the product based on its intended use.

It is recognized that budget realities will dictate the level of effort provided for accomplishing Agency's goals. However, it is the intention of the Agency to maintain the progress already achieved to develop a broad based program to encourage the adoption of pollution prevention strategies and technologies.

Pollution Prevention Technical Assistance

For more information on the programs described in this paper, please feel free to contact the individuals listed below.

Pollution Prevention Research Branch Harry Freeman 513/569-7529

Programs in General

Pollution Prevention Technical Assistance. . . Garry Howell 513/569-7756

WRITE State Programs

Connecticut Lisa Brown 513/569-7634

California Lisa Brown 513/569-7634

New Jersey Johnny Springer 513/569-7542

Illinois Paul Randall 513/569-7673

Minnesota Ivars Licis 513/569-7718

Washington Ivars Licis 513/569-7634

WRITE Industry Program Paul Randall 513/569-7673

Lisa Brown 513/569-7634

Johnny Springer 513/569-7542

WRITE Research Program Ivars Licis 513/569-7718

Lisa Brown 513/569-7634


Conference, Seminars


Jim Bridges 513/569-7683 Mary Ann Curran 513/569-7837 Brian Westfall 513/569-7755 Dave Stephan 513/569-7896 Dave Stephan 513/569-7896 Ken Stone 513/569-7474

Correspondence should be addressed to:

Pollution Prevention Research Branch Risk Reduction Engineering Lab 26 W. Martin Luther King Drive Cincinnati, OH 45268

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