Great Lakes Pollution Prevention and Toxics Reduction
Table of Contents
Pollution Solutions II
Continuing to Promote
Pollution Prevention in the
Great Lakes Basin
A Report on the Pollution Prevention Grant Program in the Great Lakes Basin
View the report
(PDF 537Kb, 170pps)
This report provides a summary of activities and accomplishments supported by U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) pollution prevention and toxics reduction (P2TR) grant program over a ten-year time frame, from 1992 through 2001. The objective of this report is twofold: 1) to summarize the accomplishments of the P2TR grant program, and, 2) to provide a resource for environmental professionals that work on P2TR, with which to learn from these projects and build on the successes that have come from this program.
The P2TR program plays an important role in U.S. EPA’s commitment to implement Article II(a) of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), which states that “the discharge of any or all persistent toxic substances (into the Great Lakes System) be virtually eliminated”, as well as the goals and objectives of the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy (GLBTS). The GLBTS, developed jointly by Canada and the United States and signed April 7, 1997, provides a framework for actions to reduce or eliminate PTS, especially those which bioaccumulate, from the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. These grants have helped to fund P2TR outreach, education, collection and disposal, technical research, and program and policy development, all in an effort to reduce and mitigate the use and release of PTS that impact the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.
Between 1992 and 2001 the Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO)
of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) awarded 71
P2TR demonstration grants totaling $4,855,459 to States, Tribes,
academic institutions, non-profit organizations, county and
municipal governments, technical assistance providers, and others.
These grants have leveraged $2,156,584 in contributions from
grantees and others. The details of each of these projects are found
in Appendix A of this report.
Outcomes: quantitative and qualitative.
One important feature of this report is the discussion of project
“outcomes.” Some outcomes are not conveniently discrete; a project
may be one element within a larger effort that has collective
outcomes, such that it can be hard to apportion credit among
individual contributors. Alternatively, it can sometimes be
difficult to express a numeric outcome, such as the collection of
pounds of a substance, into ecological or human health benefits.
Alternatively, too, an outcome may be a report, which could have a
positive influence on others, but this can be hard to gauge.
Because of such factors, most projects deserve to be viewed on a case-by-case basis, seen within the unique contexts of an individual project. Where salient quantitative metrics are available, they can be meaningful indicators of outcomes. A well-rounded, thoughtful assessment of a project’s outcomes generally includes non-numeric considerations, as well. In the context of environmental benefits and costs, former EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt has suggested “neither quantitative nor qualitative factors [should] dominate.” Both perspectives have value.
With regard to measurable outcomes, these projects have resulted in:
- 8236 Lbs of mercury removed from use or uncontrolled storage;
- 5790 mercury thermometers collected from residents within the Great Lakes states and exchanged for alternative thermometers;
- 105275 Fluorescent lamps containing mercury collected and recycled.
- 500 mercury containing auto switches collected from autos (both end of life and in-use) and properly disposed of;
- 451 PCB Transformers removed, and the PCB materials properly disposed of, while the metal, etc. has been recycled;
- 262,073 Lbs of Pesticides properly disposed of.
- 7041 Lbs. Of household hazardous waste collected and properly disposed of.
In addition thousands of pounds of electronics and computer equipment containing lead solder, mercury, and other precious metals have been collected from residents within the Great Lakes states and properly recycled.
A few notable and innovative demonstration pilot projects funded through the P2TR program include:
- The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District in Duluth, Minnesota and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians working with the local community to develop and distribute outreach materials and community service announcements, about the human health and environmental dangers of open burning of waste and burn barrel alternatives.
- The New York Department of Environmental Conservation and Erie County Department of Environment training oil change facilities in New York to exchange switches in automobiles getting their oil changed upon vehicle owner approval.
- State and local governments in every Great Lakes State working with hospitals to eliminate mercury from the facility in partnership with the hospital associations and the “Healthcare Without Harm” program.
- The three major auto manufacturers within the United States modifying the design of switches installed in new vehicles to eliminate the use of mercury. In addition, these same auto manufacturers supplying replacement switches for vehicles already in use.
Since 1992, we have learned a great deal about the value of pollution prevention as a critical tool in environmental protection, both regionally and nationally. This became even more evident when the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable in cooperation with the state pollution prevention programs developed the 2003 report An Ounce of Pollution Prevention is Worth Over 167 Billion Pounds of Cure: A Decade of Pollution Prevention Results 1990-2000. Through the P2TR program, public awareness has grown significantly and the need for financial support to develop and maintain P2TR programs within the Great Lakes States that offer PTS collection and disposal, continuing education, and related program support has evolved. For example, since 1995 seven Great Lakes states, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have adopted legislation to control the use, sale and/or disposal of mercury containing products with the state. Many county and municipal governments have established more strict ordinances in states where legislation banning its use or sale has not been passed. This legislative action is a result of increased public awareness about PTS, particularly mercury.
The successes of the P2TR grant program provide a strong foundation for further efforts in pollution prevention, regionally, nationally and internationally. Looking forward, USEPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office is committed to continuing to foster new and innovative ways to conduct pollution prevention and toxics reduction activities for years to come.