New Innovative Projects Focus on Electronics Recycling, Pharmaceutical Waste and Emergency Preparedness

March 05, 2004

EPA announced six new innovative projects that test approaches to make EPA's waste programs more effective. Examples of projects include: measuring the environmental and economic benefits of purchasing, operating, and recycling electronics; identifying and implementing best management practices of pharmaceutical waste in hospitals; and developing tools for smaller communities to assess risks and improve chemical emergency preparedness at chemical handling facilities. Proposals for the second round of 2004 innovative projects are due to EPA by April 16. For more information, go to

This is the first round of 2004 innovative projects totaling $297,575. The goal of these projects is to test innovative ideas to make EPA's waste programs more efficient and effective, measure and analyze the results, and then publicize the projects around the country so others can learn from the experiments. EPA awarded the first projects totaling $524,849 to 12 pilots in 2002. In 2003, EPA funded 19 pilots for a combined total of $800,294. The six projects selected in the first round of 2004 are as follows:

Expanding Web Portal on Hazardous Materials Inventory ($50,000):
EPA, in partnership with California's Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health and Santa Clara County Fire Chiefs Association, will demonstrate the value of online reporting and data management of required hazardous material inventories using an existing online hazardous materials reporting system. This pilot expands an existing web portal that manages the electronic reporting of facility records for storage of hazardous materials, eliminating the duplication of data entry by local agencies and providing first responders with real-time access to facility information.

Using Composts to Reduce Lead and Arsenic Soil Contamination ($46,575):
EPA, in partnership with the University of Washington, Washington Department of Ecology, Wenatchee School District, Chelan-Douglas Health District, and Community, Trade and Economic Development, will test the effect of different compost mixtures to reduce lead and arsenic concentrations in contaminated soils. This pilot examines a potential cost-effective remedial option that would reduce real and perceived risks associated with the presence of lead and arsenic in soils.

Expanding the Availability of Renewable Energy from Waste Oil ($50,000):
EPA, in partnership with the Costilla County Economic Development Council, Colorado, will test small-scale biodiesel production using locally grown crops (e.g., canola seed) and used restaurant cooking oil to demonstrate the viability of producing renewable energy. Additionally, once in full production, this pilot will be able to recover methanol from the pre-treatment process, which can be reused in the production of biodiesel. This pilot is expected to demonstrate a community's ability to find and use local feedstocks for renewable energy production. This pilot will expand the availability of renewable energy from waste oil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, toxicity and associated health risks.

Measuring the Environmental Benefits of Federal Electronic Equipment Management Practices ($60,000):
EPA, in partnership with the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, the Department of Defense, and the General Services Administration, will develop tools to measure the environmental and economic impact from environmentally sound management of electronic equipment. Currently, no assessment tool exists to determine the environmental benefits of purchasing, operating, and recycling electronics. This pilot will allow the Federal government to quantify and promote environmental benefits of proactive electronics management.

Expanding Pharmaceutical Waste Management in Hospitals ($60,000):
EPA, in partnership with Health Care Without Harm, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, H2E Champions PharmEcology Associates, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, and the New Hampshire Hospital Association, will test innovative pharmaceutical waste minimization and management practices in a hospital. Creative and effective procedures are needed to manage nonhazardous pharmaceuticals and hazardous pharmaceuticals that are not yet regulated to ensure environmentally safe treatment and disposal. This approach is expected to be readily transferable to the entire healthcare sector.

Improving Emergency Preparedness and Response in Smaller Communities ($31,000):
EPA, in partnership with Colorado's Jefferson County Local Emergency Planning Committee, will develop tools for smaller communities to assess risks and improve chemical emergency preparedness at chemical handling facilities. Many smaller communities are unaware of existing information sources on conducting risk assessments and lack the resources and training necessary to use available information. This pilot will improve preparedness in small communities through enhanced assessment of risks and needs.

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Released for Public Comment

EPA has released a draft version of the "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2002" for a 30-day public comment period. The major finding in this year's report is that overall emissions increased slightly by 0.7 percent from 2001 to 2002. This increase was due primarily to moderate economic growth in 2002 that increased demand for electricity and fossil fuels. A secondary contributor included hot summer conditions in 2002, which also increased demand for electricity and fossil fuels. Overall, total U.S. emissions have risen by 13 percent from 1990 to 2002, while the U.S. economy has grown by 42 percent over the same period. Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases were 6,934 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2002. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. Fossil fuel combustion was the largest source of emissions, accounting for 81 percent of the total.

The "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2002" is prepared annually by EPA, in collaboration with experts from a dozen other federal agencies, and is one of the most comprehensive analyses of greenhouse gases in the world. After EPA completes a final version of the document, the Department of State will submit the Inventory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A Federal Register notice announcing a 30-day public comment period on the report was published on March 1, 2004. The report is available at: .

How to Recycle or Safely Dispose of Used Batteries

Most of the more than 750 million alkaline batteries sold each year to power cameras, flashlights, and portable CD players are sent to landfills or incinerated, not recycled. The chemicals in these batteries -- particularly cadmium -- present a major health hazard if they leak from their corroded metal jackets. Cadmium is a probable human carcinogen, and it can also affect kidney and lung function.

Several states, including Maine, Vermont, and Florida, have passed legislation prohibiting incineration and landfilling of mercury-containing and lead-acid batteries, according to EPA's Office of Product Stewardship. Regardless of your home state's attitude on batteries, you should contact your town's solid waste office to see if there are any planned hazardous waste collection days. Batteries awaiting recycling should be stored separately from other hazardous materials in a cool and dry area.

You can also take advantage of some of the increasingly popular national battery recycling programs. Since 1989, 13 states have adopted laws (including battery labeling requirements) to encourage the collection and recycling of used rechargeable batteries. In 1996, Congress passed the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act, which helps facilitate the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation's (RBRC) nationwide take back program. According to RBRC, some rechargeable batteries can go through 1,000 cycles. RBRC recycles million of batteries each year, collecting used batteries from more than 30,000 depositories in the U.S. and Canada -- many at large retailers such as Home Depot, Best Buy, and Target. The RBRC collects only nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, lithium ion, and small sealed-lead batteries. More information is available on-line at

The Big Green Box battery-recycling program provides consumers, companies, and government agencies with a simple method for recycling both batteries and portable electronic devices (cellphones, cameras, calculators, and laptops) without having to drive to a recycling center. You prepay for a sturdy cardboard box (the consumer version is $58) that will hold up to 40 pounds of recyclables. The cost of the box includes all shipping, handling and recycling fees. You keep the box handy, filling it with old batteries and equipment as you go, and simply ship it to The Big Green Box address when it's full. More information is available on-line at

A similar program is available at

11 New Hazardous Waste Sites Proposed to the Superfund National Priorities List

EPA proposed that 11 new high risk hazardous waste sites be added to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). Of the 11 sites proposed for listing two sites are former mining sites, one site has significant drinking water contamination from unidentified sources, one site has significant water resource sediment contamination, and one site has residential soil contamination. The sites present a wide array of contaminants, including lead, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), volatile organic compounds, among others. The NPL serves primarily informational purposes, identifying for the states and the public those sites that appear to warrant remedial actions. If these sites are eventually funded, EPA will work with states, tribes, local communities and other partners in identifying land reuse options and opportunities at these sites. Under its Land Revitalization Agenda announced last year, EPA made a commitment that revitalization and reuse will now be a formal part of planning at every site.

Nationally, more than 70 percent of all Superfund sites are cleaned up by those responsible for the pollution. Since the beginning of the Superfund program, more than $21 billion in cleanup commitments and funding have been provided by the parties responsible for toxic waste sites. The proposed sites were selected based on various factors, including: risk to human health and the environment; the urgency of the need for response; projected total costs to the Fund; maintenance of a strong enforcement program; leverage of cleanups by others; and the level of support for listing from the State, Tribes, and communities.

The 11 proposed sites are: Jacobsville Neighborhood Soil Contamination. Evansville, Ind.; Devil's Swamp Lake, Scotlandville, La.; Annapolis Lead Mine, Annapolis, Mo.; Picayune Wood Treating, Picayune, Miss.; Grants Chlorinated Solvents Plume, Grants, N.M.; Diaz Chemical Corporation, Holley, N.Y.; Peninsula Boulevard Groundwater Plume, Hewlett, N.Y.; Ryeland Road Arsenic, Heidelberg Township, Pa.; Cidra Ground Water Contamination, Cidra, Puerto Rico; Pike Hill Copper Mine, Corinth, Vt.; Ravenswood PCE Ground Water Plume, Ravenswood, W.Va.

With the 11 new sites proposed to the NPL, there are now 65 sites proposed and awaiting final agency listing determination; 59 in the General Superfund Section and six in the Federal Facilities Section. There are 1,240 final sites on the NPL; 1,082 in the General Section and 158 in the Federal Facilities Section. Final and proposed sites now total 1,305. Cleanup construction has been completed at 892 sites and is underway at 360 additional sites. For Federal Register notices and support documents for the new proposed and final sites, go to

EPA Displays the First Advanced Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicle

The first advanced hydraulic hybrid sport utility vehicle will be publicly displayed by EPA, along with its partners, at the 2004 Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress on March 8-11 in Detroit, Michigan. This vehicle demonstrates that hydraulic hybrid technology has the potential to cost-effectively improve the fuel economy of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) while at the same time improving performance.

The demonstration vehicle uses EPA's full hydraulic hybrid technology integrated in a stock SUV. Over the last decade, EPA has collaborated with many organizations to develop hydraulic hybrid technology including the Army, Ford, Eaton Corp., Parker-Hannafin Corp., FEV Engine Technology, Inc., Michigan State University, Ricardo Inc., Southwest Research Institute and the University of Wisconsin.

The vehicle on display is a hydraulic hybrid, reported to achieve a 55 percent improvement in fuel economy. This hydraulic hybrid technology is projected to increase the cost of a large SUV by about $600 which would be quickly recouped by the consumer's lower fuel and maintenance costs.

Hydraulic hybrids are just one of several new clean diesel automotive technologies being developed by automakers, other companies and the Federal Government. Other technologies include electric hybrids, clean diesel engines, fuel cells and ongoing improvements to conventional gasoline engines. For more information, visit