Resource Conservation Challenge
More on Working
to Prevent Pollution
The Resource Conservation Challenge (RCC) is a national effort to conserve natural resources and energy by managing materials more efficiently. RCC partners with government, industry, businesses, and others to find smarter, faster ways to accomplish RCC goals.
At EPA, RCC is a joint effort among OPPT, the Office of Solid Waste, and EPA Regions to work on and coordinate efforts to:
- Promote more flexible and protective ways to prevent pollution
- Promote recycling and reuse of materials
- Reduce the use of toxic chemicals
- Conserve energy and materials
OPPT has the lead on three projects that are key to achieving RCC goals:
- Reducing Toxic Chemicals of National Concern (TCNC)
- Federal Electronics Challenge (FEC)
- Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)
TCNC is a key strategy to achieve RCC's overarching goal of eliminating or reducing chemicals of national concern from commercial products, waste streams, and industrial releases.
- The TCNC project established a process with relevant manufacturers, processors, users, and other stakeholders to identify, implement, and realize reduction opportunities.
- As part of the TCNC project, OPPT’s Design for the
Environment (DfE) Program and EPA Region 5 created the voluntary
Safer Detergents Stewardship
Initiative (SDSI) to promote safer surfactants that degrade quickly into non-toxic byproducts.
As part of this project, EPA Region 5’s Laboratory developed, during 2007, final high- and low-level detection methodologies and shared information with EPA Regions and states regarding monitoring/regulating Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylates (APEs), which are used as surfactants in soaps and detergents. APEs might biodegrade under anaerobic conditions to alkylphenols which persist in the environment and are considered toxic to aquatic organisms. SDSI will encourage the manufacture and use of safer surfactants, reducing the amount of APE surfactants in the environment.
- In 2007, EPA evaluated information collected as part of a TCNC project to reduce toxic pollutants in refining petrochemical processes. The project focuses on use of advanced detection technology and engineering best practices in the refinery setting to identify and prevent both continuous and episodic releases of targeted highly reactive volatile organic compounds (HRVOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). As part of the project, a study by Dr. David Allen, of the University of Texas, under contract to EPA, found greater than expected emission levels of HRVOCs/HAPs, particularly benzene, in Texas.
- Chemical and engineering alternatives for solvents and other toxic chemicals used in pharmaceutical manufacturing were identified through the TCNC Reduction of Toxic Chemical Use and Waste in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Project. OPPT's Green Engineering program and EPA Regions 2 and 3 participated in the project which, during 2007:
- Built a working partnership between EPA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), industry, and academia.
- Conducted successful workshops on solvent-use reduction.
- Hosted a video conferencefor an audience of pharmaceutical industry academia, and government representatives at the EPA and FDA.
- Sponsored a related conference in Puerto Rico.
- As part of the TCNC project, OPPT's DfE program began conducting combustion testing in 2007 on
printed circuit board materials with different flame retardants through the Flame Retardants in Printed Circuit Boards Project. DfE also began assessing alternatives for the flame retardant
Tetrabromobisphenol A, which is the largest-volume flame retardant produced, and is the primary flame
retardant for printed circuit boards.
Through this project EPA has developed a partnership with electronics, board and laminate, and chemical industry, environmental groups, universities and government agencies to evaluate viable chemical substitutes for flame retardants. DfE will complete a partnership report in 2008.
Read more information on the Resource Conservation Challenge and other sections of this report for additional information on FEC and EPEAT.