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Solid Waste and Emergency Response

Resource Conservation

EPA promotes the conservation and reuse of waste and materials, in accordance with the requirements of RCRA. A key objective of RCRA is to promote the protection of health and the environment and to conserve valuable material and energy resources by--

  • minimizing the generation and land disposal of hazardous waste by encouraging process substitution, materials recovery, properly conducted recycling and reuse, and treatment;
  • promoting the demonstration, construction, and application of solid waste management, resource recovery, and resource conservation systems which preserve and enhance the quality of air, water, and land resources; and
  • establishing a cooperative effort among the Federal, State, and local governments and private enterprise in order to recover valuable materials and energy from solid waste

Everyone knows that some of our planet’s resources are not renewable. If a community or individual sustainably manages its resources it can have a significant positive impact on the environment — conserving our natural resources for future generations, saving landfill space, conserving energy, and reducing water pollution, air pollution and the green house gas emissions that cause global warming. For example, individual consumers can help alleviate America's mounting trash problem and conserve our limited resources every day by making environmentally aware decisions about the things they buy, use every day, and throw away.

Resource Conservation Activities:

Why Community Engagement is Important for Resource Conservation:

Participation in this work by local stakeholders is critical to defining issues specific to the location, and to implementing solutions best suited to the local environment and the needs of the local population. For example, recycling solutions that work well in an urban environment might not work in a rural community where there are transportation and infrastructure issues.

We want your feedback about how EPA involves communities in Resource Conservation activities. Please share your experiences with these processes and your ideas for improvement.

Resource Conservation Challenge (RCC) Webinars

The Resource Conservation Challenge is a national effort to implement sustainable materials management and conserve natural resources and energy by managing materials more efficiently. The goals of the RCC are to:
* Prevent pollution and promote reuse and recycling;
* Reduce priority and toxic chemicals in products and waste; and
* Conserve energy and materials.

EPA identified four national priorities or focus areas for the RCC:
1. Municipal Solid Waste
2. Green Initiatives - Electronics
3. Industrial Materials Recycling
4. Priority and Toxic Chemicals Reduction

The RCC consists of numerous partnerships and collaborations with federal, state, local, and tribal governments; industry organizations; businesses and corporations; and individual citizens.

How we involve communities:
The EPA hosts monthly webinars to provide information to materials management stakeholders related to the RCC. Stakeholders learn about key issues, successful projects, and a variety of best management practices for creating successful waste management programs. The webinars allow stakeholders to hear from experts around the country on what works and what doesn’t, and how to make their program more successful. The format for the webinars is a formal presentation followed by a question/answer session and discussion time. The webinars are held monthly for federal, state, local and tribal government waste management professionals.

RCC efforts are evolving to capture a life cycle approach and to emphasize the important role which sustainable materials management plays in reducing environmental impacts, including overall contribution to climate change. Many sustainable materials management activities, especially at a Regional level, involve working directly with local community, business and industry stakeholders to reduce consumption of virgin materials, reduce toxicity, prevent pollution, promote re-use and recycling, and conserve energy and natural resources. In addition, many national projects or initiatives related to sustainable materials management involve a collaborative process with diverse groups of stakeholders to explore a particular environmental problem, and identify barriers and potential solutions. EPA identifies and involves all potentially affected parties these material management processes using techniques best suited to the particular environmental problem or opportunity.

Examples of projects that engage communities include:

  • convening stakeholder groups to share information and best practices on municipal solid waste and re- use of industrial by-product materials in urban areas (e.g. Annual urban recycling forum for the community) and to share best practices and expand opportunities for industrial ecology networks (e.g by- product synergy);
  • training local teachers and school district personnel on the removal and safe disposal of unused chemicals in their schools;
  • engaging technical experts, industry, NGOs and communities on planning and measurement efforts related to sustainable materials management; and
  • working in geographic initiative areas to support urban revitalization projects, including green remediation and re-use of construction and demolition materials (e.g. City EJ Iniative).

Federal, state, local and tribal government waste management professionals listen in and ask questions during the webinar or, if they miss one, they can view the video and transcript at a later date. On average, about 271 people attend the webinars each month (range 84 – 403), depending on the interest in the topic.

A short survey is provided at the end of each webinar asking participants "How likely are you to act on this information?" For example, the May 2010 webinar on Social Marketing — Building a Toolkit to Motivate Environmental Action, 96.9% of those who took the survey (220 out of 227) responded positively (were very likely, more than likely, or somewhat likely to act on the information).

Links to More Information:
RCC Web Academy: Recycling and Solid Waste Management Educational Series

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