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TSCA New Chemicals Program P2 Recognition Project, 1996

The P2 Recognition Project serves as a means to acknowledge companies for developing innovative chemistry and technologies that further pollution prevention and other environmental goals. EPA's New Chemicals Program, in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, hopes that honoring of such innovation by the Agency (and the publicity associated with it) will serve as a stimulus to further innovation both to the company receiving the letter and to other chemical companies.

The New Chemicals Program, which screens up to 2500 chemicals a year, identified the chemicals proposed for P2 recognition through the Premanufacture Notice (PMN) P2 screening process, as well as during more detailed new chemical reviews. The New Chemicals Program also includes the Biotechnology Program, which reviews new (i.e., intergeneric) microorganisms. The P2 Recognition Project relies heavily on information contained in the PMN on P2 aspects of the new chemical or biotech product, although supplemental information has also been considered.

What are the elements of a successful candidate? What criteria does the Agency use in finding new chemical/biotech candidates for P2 recognition?

Generally, EPA is looking for safer substitutes for existing products now in commerce, chemicals/biotech products which are less toxic (as demonstrated by test data on the new product itself) or which have fewer toxic associated chemicals (e.g., feedstocks, byproducts, impurities, etc.). Other factors include pollution prevention, source reduction or recycling processes that reduce exposures or releases, environmentally beneficial uses of the product, and conservation of energy and water during its manufacture, processing or use. Finally, the Agency wants to recognize real commercial successes; thus, we require that the company commence manufacture of the PMN substance in order to receive the award. In some cases, promising cases which have not entered commerce are recognized for the achievement they represent, in the hope that the chemistry or technology is commercialized.

P2 1996 Awardees

In 1996, the Agency recognized the following accomplishments in pollution prevention:

Genencor--Biotechnology pathway to environmentally friendly manufacture of indigo dye which is used to color blue jeans, among other things. Genencor's process uses an intergeneric microorganism, glucose and other microbial nutrients instead of hazardous reagents including aniline, formaldehyde and hydrocyanic acid to create this commercially important dye. Eliminating the use of such hazardous chemical feedstocks via replacement with a more environmentally friendly process reduces exposures, releases, and risks otherwise associated with the traditional starting materials.

Union Carbide--Innovative surfactant (detergent) for use in industrial settings that can be chemically split and its surfactancy completely eliminated prior to environmental release; furthermore, the splitting process results in two non-polluting fragments or byproducts. Union Carbide developed the splittable surfactant to meet customer needs at industrial laundry and metalworking operations for a product that would satisfy the effluent composition limits of publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). Now customers can use this new technology to reduce biological oxygen demand and fats, oils, and grease in their effluent, as opposed to using other more toxic surfactants or simply diluting the effluent to meet POTW requirements. In addition, there are collateral P2 benefits, which include: less solid waste is generated; that solid waste is higher in organic content and can therefore be put to a more beneficial use as fuel; and use and discharge of phosphates reduced. A government/industry partnership was implemented to ensure that splitting is, in fact, the practice so the full benefits of this promising technology are realized.

Conrad Industries--Innovative chemistry/process for recycling hard-to-recycle post-consumer plastics. Conrad Industries' new technology has the potential to advance plastics recycling to include many plastics not currently recycled, and represents a significant innovation in the chemistry for advanced plastics recycling, chemically converting post-consumer plastics into fuel-grade petroleum feedstocks. This process provides advantages over conventional plastics recycling in that the sorting of different plastics in the waste stream is not necessary and the process yields a consistent quality petroleum end product. Conrad Industries' technology uses pyrolysis to convert used plastic into original monomer-like substances, i.e., a quality petroleum end product with consistent characteristics which can be readily used at petroleum refineries for further refining into gases, oils and cokes. The result is that this technology creates the opportunity to recycle many materials that currently are landfilled, as it is intended to work alongside the traditional curbside plastics recycling by addressing mixed post-consumer plastics, greatly expanding the amount of waste plastics that can be recycled. Also, Agency-negotiated pyrolysis parameters limit emissions of undesired components from the conversion process, including dioxins and furans.

Engelhard--Manufacture of new yellow pigment to replace heavy metal and diaryl-based formulations. This innovation is expected to reduce human and environmental exposure to the heavy metals lead and chromium and to diaryl compounds and byproducts including dichlorobenzidene, which are used in other yellow pigments. A shift to this new product would lower the risk to society of adverse health effects associated with the use and release of heavy metals or benzidine derivatives. Although the Agency retains concern for the aromatic amines components of Engelhard's product, it strongly supports this innovative chemistry.

Huls America--Development of non-phosgene process to manufacture isocyanates. Isocyanates are typically manufactured using phosgene, a highly toxic and dangerous gas. Huls America's new phosgene-free process avoids the many health and environmental hazards related to the use of phosgen. Also, the process yields a blocked isocyanate intermediate, which can be stored, handled and transported more safely than other isocyanates. Although the Agency has concerns for potential human health effects associated with the isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI) that is the end product, as well as for other isocyanates, it strongly supports this alternative synthesis process and its health and environmental benefits.

 


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