Date: August 10, 2012
Source: News Room
A group that includes members from industry, academic institutions, environmental groups and community organizations called the Sustainable Materials Management Coalition wants EPA to craft guidance to help industry define "green" products and processes. It wants to expand the agency's current Design for the Environment (DfE) program as detailed in a new report.
The report, "Sustainable Materials Management: A New Materials Hierarchy, Solutions to Barriers, and Recommendations for a Path Forward," also calls on EPA to sponsor a regular dialogue on sustainable materials management and suggests changes to how the agency should evaluate strategies for handling municipal waste to reflect the ongoing shift to considering uses for used materials other than waste disposal.
In July EPA waste chief Mathy Stanislaus said "EPA has begun a transition from its traditional waste management program to a sustainable materials management program. We are moving in this new direction due to the significant environmental and economic benefits provided through reuse. . . .We very much value perspectives from the Sustainable Materials Management Coalition and other organizations as we continue these efforts."
EPA has been exploring for several years the creation of a standard or template to guide companies in performing and disclosing so-called lifecycle analyses of their products' environmental impacts from raw materials to disposal.
Important New Report to Boost U.S. Sustainable Materials Management Agenda
Effort is part of major initiative by a multi-stakeholder, private-public partnership
Washington, D.C. - MDB, Inc. today announced the release of an important new report by the Sustainable Materials Management Coalition. This report, "Sustainable Materials Management: A New Materials Hierarchy, Solutions to Barriers, and Recommendations for a Path Forward," recommends the creation of an improved materials hierarchy, defines solutions for addressing barriers to sustainable materials management, and will induce the creation of new life-cycle based performance metrics to evaluate materials management processes.
Sustainable materials management is an approach to serving human needs by using or reusing resources most productively and sustainably throughout their life cycles, generally minimizing the amounts of materials involved and all the associated impacts, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This report is the result of a year-long effort by representatives of business and industry, academic institutions, environmental and community organizations, and State and local government organizations to create a greater path forward for sustainable materials management.
The Coalition is chaired by Timothy Fields, Senior Vice President, MDB, Inc., and former EPA Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
"I believe that this report and its recommendations will result in a greater focus and higher priority being given to sustainable materials management in the United States," said Fields. "A diverse group of stakeholders are in agreement that sustainable materials management is the future for current waste management programs. I believe that developing performance factors for evaluating or comparing the environmental and public health performance of individual processes is particularly important for the future."
Waste Management, a national leader in recycling and materials management, was a primary supporter of the effort.
"The Sustainable Materials Management Coalition has done a great job of assessing the current waste hierarchy, defining ways to overcome barriers to extracting value from discarded materials, and identifying a path forward for sustainable materials management in the future," said Barry Caldwell, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications, Waste Management. "We appreciate the insights these experts brought to our project to envision a more sustainable use of materials in the U.S."
The report assesses the current waste hierarchy, which is a conceptual approach to setting priorities for waste management, and makes major recommendations for moving the agenda forward on sustainable materials management.
"As someone who has advocated on behalf of communities for over two decades, especially in the waste management arena, I strongly endorse the utilization of materials for sustainable uses, including waste diversion from land disposal. I believe that the Coalition efforts to encourage greater sustainable materials management will result in healthier communities and a cleaner environment," said Vernice Miller-Travis, Vice Chair, Maryland State Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities, and a member of the Coalition.
"Du Pont's mission of Sustainable Growth includes the development and production of materials that are more sustainable throughout their life cycle. The Coalition's report is an important contribution, and can help guide companies, communities, and policy makers as they seek even more sustainable materials use. We look forward to working with the Coalition to further develop performance metrics for sustainable management of materials," said Michael Parr, Senior Manager of Government Affairs, Du Pont, and a member of the Coalition.
"EPA has begun a transition from its traditional waste management program to a sustainable materials management program," said Mathy Stanislaus, EPA Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "We are moving in this new direction due to the significant environmental and economic benefits provided through reuse. Our new efforts are being informed by engaging a wide range of stakeholders from both the private and public sectors. We very much value perspectives from the Sustainable Materials Management Coalition and other organizations as we continue these efforts."
As a next step, the Coalition will develop life-cycle based performance factors, or metrics, that can be used to evaluate or compare particular processes to manage materials from an environmental and public health perspective. These performance factors, intended for use by industry, state and local governments, and the public, will be particularly helpful in evaluating newer technologies. The Coalition will develop general advice to stakeholders on how to evaluate and decide among technologies and processes. This work will be complete by the end of 2012.