Sustainable Materials Management: A Life-cycle Perspective

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus

As companies and decision-makers seek sustainable ways to manage resources and meet consumer needs, they are confronted with an array of choices, labels and practices that claim to be better for the environment. Terms such as “recyclable,” “recycled-content,” “biodegradable,” or “organic,” all suggest a more sustainable use of resources, but all focus on a limited set of environmental impacts. At EPA, we found that asking which of these practices is better for the environment may not be the right question. We’ve found benefit by taking a broader perspective that considers the full “life cycle” of a product.

Governments and businesses can make better-informed choices with “life-cycle thinking,” or considering the environmental impacts caused at all of the stages of a product’s life cycle. These impacts may include releases of pollutants to air or water; raw material depletion; loss of trees, vegetation and wildlife through disturbance of land and water ecosystems; and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The stages of a product’s life cycle include extraction of resources, manufacturing, use, and end-of-life management. Focusing on just one stage (such as waste management) or one effect (such as organically-raised or grown) can be misleading in total environmental impact. A broader look at life-cycle considerations can show unsuspected or surprising effects – such as high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from washing clothes with hot as opposed to cold water (since fossil fuels were likely burned for the energy used to heat the water). Continue reading

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

A Shared Commitment: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus

This is a joint blog from: Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Caitlin Durkovich, Assistant Secretary Office of Infrastructure Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and David Michaels, Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.

On August 1, 2013, the President issued Executive Order (EO) 13650 – Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security – to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to facility workers and operators, communities, and responders. Chemicals and the facilities that manufacture, store, distribute and use them are essential to our economy and livelihood, but the handling and storage of chemicals can present a risk that must be addressed. Continue reading

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

EPA’s 20th Anniversary for Environmental Justice: A Perspective on Community Work

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus
Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Mathy Stanislaus participates in Federal Facilities roundtable with Citizens for Environmental Justice in Savannah, GA

Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Mathy Stanislaus participates in Federal Facilities roundtable with Citizens for Environmental Justice in Savannah, GA

 

I am excited about the 20th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 12898.  Former President Bill Clinton signed EO 12898 on February 11, 1994. I was not there, but I knew the people who were. Some of those people are no longer with us, so today I honor them.

It seems like just yesterday that I started my career right out of law and engineering school. Since that time, I have worked fervently with and for communities ensuring that they have a say in environmental decisions that affect their lives, their children’s lives, and the lives of fellow community members. The well-being of those community members is always in the front of my mind, and drives my work each day. Continue reading

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

E-Manifest: Modernizing Hazardous Waste Tracking

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus

Hazardous waste barrels

When a facility generates hazardous waste, the waste is often sent to a management facility elsewhere to be stored, treated, or disposed. Currently, we require industry to track and keep records of type, volume, sources and destinations of hazardous waste shipments through a set of paper forms (manifests), reports, and procedures that follow the shipments from cradle-to-grave. This process produces millions of manifests each year in an often inefficient process.

EPA is working with states, industry, and other stakeholders to modernize this process by allowing for electronic manifests (e-Manifest). Continue reading

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Making Our Communities More Resilient to Climate Change

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus

Flooding in a community as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Photo courtesy of U.S. EPA.

As a member of the EPA community leading efforts to prevent the release of hazardous substances and respond to emergencies, I know it is important to quickly assess impacts, help with recovery and cleanup, while also preparing for future events. My office, the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER), helps to address these issues specifically by cleaning up contaminated land, managing hazardous and non-hazardous waste, and responding to emergencies.

Continue reading

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Celebrating National Native American Heritage Month

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus
Members of the site visit tour of the Santa Clara Pueblo, center OSWER Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus

Members of the site visit tour of the Santa Clara Pueblo, center OSWER Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus

Recently, while in New Mexico attending the 4th annual Tribal Lands Forum, EPA’s Region 6 Regional Administrator Ron Curry and I were honored to be hosted by the Governor of the Santa Clara Pueblo Bruce Tafoya, the Tribal Sheriff Regis Chavarria, and the Environmental Director Joseph Chavarria on a tour of the Pueblo and its surrounding areas.

I experienced first-hand the impact of recent flooding and fire on canyon lands that are culturally significant to the Santa Clara Pueblo.  The Pueblo launched an organized multi-year emergency response effort to address imminent dangers and eventually restore the canyon’s land and water.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Revitalize for Jobs: Investing in Manufacturing, a Michigan Community Roundtable

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus
Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (left), and Mayor Dayne Walling of Flint, Michigan (right)

Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (left), and Mayor Dayne Walling of Flint, Michigan

 

On September 4, EPA sponsored and Mayor Walling hosted the Manufacturing Communities Roundtable meeting in Flint, Michigan. The roundtable was part of the White House Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership. Mayor Bernero of Lansing, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Advanced Manufacturing Task Force addressed the audience of over 100 stakeholders. Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Dan Kildee shared their support for investments in workforce development, infrastructure, clean energy opportunities, and tax incentives. Other federal agency partners who joined our conversation in Flint included the Economic Development Administration, the Department of Labor’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Working Together to Ensure Chemical Facility Safety

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus

SecurityPublicSafety_011

EPA has several programs in place to reduce the risks associated with hazardous chemicals. With the President’s Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, we plan to expand our efforts under our Risk Management Program and our Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Community Right-to-Know programs to ensure chemical facility safety.

Our goals in the Executive Order are to:

  • Leverage the stakeholder network already in place with trade associations, environmental organizations, industry, and labor unions to identify best practices;
  • Improve coordination with and provide assistance to state and local partners;
  • Enhance data sharing and coordination among federal agencies; and
  • Modernize policies, regulations, and standards.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Small Business Innovation is Mushrooming

JudithEnck Judith Enck

Sometimes I worry that one of the enduring manmade wonders of our time will be the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. You know the Garbage Patch – the huge concentration of marine debris (mostly plastics) floating in the Pacific Ocean. It may still be there centuries from now. I wonder if a thousand years from now, tourists will visit the Garbage Patch the way we do the Roman Coliseum or the Pyramids. They’ll take pictures and stand there with their mouths agape wondering “how could they let this happen?”

Personally, I’m hopeful we can reduce the “greatness” of the garbage patch – and solve many of our other waste disposal problems – by reducing packaging or at least making it more sustainable.

Wine packaging

Wine packaging made from mushroom mycelium by Ecovative Design

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Making Regulations Work for the Environment and the Economy

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus

In March of 2011, I participated in a video town hall meeting to talk about finding ways to improve EPA regulations to make compliance easier and less expensive, without sacrificing protection of the environment and human health. In that meeting I encouraged participants to share their ideas about how EPA could streamline regulations and which regulations we should review. I also shared a Web page where you can find information on the status of priority rulemakings, retrospective reviews of existing regulations, and information on how to comment on rulemakings. The very first suggestion I received during the video town hall that day was for EPA to modify regulations on the management of solvent-contaminated rags and wipes used by various industrial sectors, such as publishing, printing, and automobile manufacturing.

Hazard-Regulated_084

I’m pleased to say that we have acted on that suggestion and released a final regulation that reduces burden on tens of thousands of facilities that use solvent-contaminated wipes, while still being protective of human health and the environment. Based on the best available science, we’ve provided a regulatory framework for managing solvent-contaminated wipes at the appropriate level of risk. Not only does this reduce uncertainty for these regulated communities, this rule will result in an estimated net savings of $18 million per year in avoided regulatory costs and between $3.7 million and $9.9 million per year in other expected benefits, including pollution prevention, waste minimization and fire prevention benefits.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.