Showing posts with label EPA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EPA. Show all posts

Sunday, August 6, 2017

HOW AIR POLLUTION HARMS YOUR BODY

HOW AIR POLLUTION HARMS YOUR BODY 


Air pollution can cause serious health problems. Rarely, it can even kill people — and we’re not exaggerating. That’s why we care so much about the laws that protect us from air pollution.
Read on to learn more about the specific parts of our bodies that are affected by air pollution.
Air pollution can be made of tiny particles or gases, and these get into your body when you breathe. Different types of air pollution do different things inside your body. Air pollution can directly irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, before it even gets into the lungs. It can cause runny nose, itchy eyes, and scratchy throat.

LUNGS

When you breathe in, air moves through your nose or mouth, down your throat into your trachea, and then into your lungs. Pollution can irritate the airways. When that happens, muscles around the bronchi get tight; the lining of the bronchi swell; and the bronchi produce excess mucous. When the airways are constricted, it becomes hard to breathe. That’s what happens during an asthma attack.
Air pollution makes infections worse and makes the lungs more susceptible to getting infections in the first place. Pollution causes your airways to narrow, decreasing airflow, and amps up the production of mucous. It also may prevent the lungs from effectively filtering bacteria and viruses.
Some air pollution causes lung cancer. Diesel exhaust, from trucks and cars, is a known human carcinogen. Some pollutants are gases. They come into the lungs easily, just like oxygen in the air. These gases pass directly from the alveoli in the lungs into the blood stream, just like oxygen does.
EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION
  • Asthma attacks
  • Infections
  • Decreased airflow
  • Excess mucous
  • Lung cancer

HEART

Air pollution gets into your blood and affects your heart. Air pollution can cause changes in the system that controls how your heart beats. This can cause the heartbeat to become irregular (an arrhythmia).
A narrowing in the blood vessels of the heart from cholesterol is called plaque. When the heartbeat becomes irregular, that can cause plaque to break off the wall of the blood vessel and block blood flow. This causes a heart attack.
When air pollution passes from your lungs into your blood, it can also cause inflammation throughout your body. Being in a state of systemic inflammation causes the blood vessels to become narrow. This decreases blood flow. The inflammation can also loosen plaque in the circulatory system or cause a blood clot to form — both of which can trigger a heart attack.
EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Heart attacks
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Blood clots

BRAIN

Air pollution can harm your brain. In the brain, decreasing blood flow, loosening plaque, or triggering a blood clot causes a stroke.
Air pollution can have other impacts on the brain. When pollution gets into the bloodstream, it goes to the brain, too. There, it can cause headaches and anxiety and affect the central nervous system.
Over the long term, some kinds of pollution can lead to reduced IQ, reduced attention, and behavioral problems.
Another possible result of breathing in air pollution is an increased risk of dementia. Although the link between air pollution and dementia is uncertain, it may be a result of tiny particles triggering systemic inflammation. Tiny particles may also harm the brain directly, by entering the sensitive organ through the nose and eyes.
EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION
  • Stroke
  • Headaches and anxiety
  • Reduced IQ
  • Behavioral problems
  • Link to dementia

BABY

Air pollution gets into your baby. Air pollution can increase the risk of preterm birth and low-birth-weight babies.
When air pollution passes from the lungs into the blood, it can cause systemic inflammation throughout the body. This stressor may trigger labor or interfere with normal development of the baby.
When a pregnant woman breathes tiny particles of air pollution, her baby may be more likely to develop autism. Although the link between air pollution and autism is uncertain, it may be a result of systemic inflammation, which in turn may interfere with normal development of the baby’s brain.
EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Link to autism

CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY

Children are especially vulnerable to air pollution. Children breathe faster than adults, so they are exposed to more air pollution than adults. They exercise more and spend more time outside than adults, which means that they breathe more outdoor air pollution. Children’s lungs are still developing, and developing lungs are more sensitive to pollution than fully formed lungs.
And the elderly are vulnerable too. As people age, their bodies are less able to compensate for the effects of pollution. The elderly are more likely to have other diseases and conditions, such as heart disease or emphysema, that can be aggravated by air pollution.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

A New Shade of Green

We humans with our big cars and our big factories and our big cities were discharging terrible stuff into the air and water, and it had to be stopped or we would soon make our nest uninhabitable. The public was growing increasingly outraged. Every night on color television, we saw yellow sludge flowing into blue rivers; every day as we drove to work, we saw black smudges against the barely visible blue sky. We knew that our indiscriminate use of pesticides and toxic substances was threatening wildlife and public health.

But we didn't do much about it. Until 1970, most regulation of industry was done by the states, which competed so strongly for plants and jobs that regulating companies to protect public health was beyond them.

Environmentally, it was a race to the bottom.

Until, that is, the public had enough and demanded action. A seminal moment: the first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, when cars were buried and action was demanded from the Nixon administration and Congress.

And they both acted. President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, and Congress, starting with the Council on Environmental Quality, passed a cascade of laws designed to clean up our act.

One of my first public actions as the first head of the EPA was to bring major enforcement actions against three large cities for violations of the Clean Water Act. We followed that with additional action against the steel industry and other industrial polluters. I knew that the job of the EPA would be far more contentious in the future if we didn't establish its credibility and its willingness to take forceful—and symbolic—action right from the start. The American people had to know we were serious about meeting their demands.

The Last War
[EARTH1] Etienne Delessert

Fast forward to 2010. In so many ways, the problems of the 1970s seem almost quaint now—simpler problems of a simpler time. Our biggest challenge now is to make sure we don't succumb to our inevitable tendency to fight the last war. Or to put it more bluntly: Yesterday's solutions worked well on yesterday's problems, but the solutions we devised back in the 1970s aren't likely to make much of a dent in the environmental problems we face today.

Don't get me wrong: Considerable progress has been made thanks to those early laws. Air pollution, particularly of the kinds listed in the Clean Air Act of 1970, has been driven to much lower concentrations, and public health and the environment have benefited greatly.

Similarly, under the Clean Water Act, river basins and watersheds have been cleaned up all over the country. Back in the 1960s, Lake Erie was declared dead; it now supports a fishery of several hundred million dollars a year. The same can be said for many gross pollution problems—the smell, touch and feel kind. How quickly we forget what the world was like in the 1940s and '50s when most everyone burned soft coal in their furnaces to stay warm during the winter, putting an intolerable burden on our lungs and respiratory system.

No Place to Hide

The tactics of the 1970s show what we can accomplish if we put our minds to the task. But today's tasks require more than putting our minds to them. They require a new mind-set.

EPA

William Ruckelshaus at his 1970 swearing in as the EPA's first administrator

EARTH2
EARTH2

To understand why, remember that most of the laws we put in place back then were based on the belief that the fundamental problem was the weakness of state regulatory programs. If we just centralized the regulation of industry at the federal level, there would be no place for the polluters to hide.

The current generation of problems that we are facing, though, is much more subtle, much less visible to the naked eye—and often not nearly as susceptible to a top-down, command-and-control approach.

The rise of climate change as a major national and global problem offers a vivid example. Climate change is difficult to deal with politically because the people who benefit (future generations) are not the same as those who pay (the current generation). That is, our children and grandchildren will reap the gains of any costs that we bear in reducing our current use of carbon.

On these kinds of issues where the payer and beneficiary are not the same, the American people are ideological liberals and operational conservatives. They are all for the promised results; they just don't want to pay for them. Little wonder that most people will tell their pollsters they are in favor of reducing the impact of our current lifestyle on future generations, but their scant support for policies that will accomplish that belie their commitment.

I believe that if we are going to address climate change successfully, the top-down, standard-setting enforcement process of the 1970s has to be rethought. It worked just fine when the goal was clear: cutting the amount of specific pollutants from a finite number of industrial and municipal entities. But climate change—which involves the behavior of all of us who heat our homes and drive our cars, not just business and industry—is too big and too complicated for something as blunt as this approach.

Instead, I believe we are going to have to make the substances that cause the problem (for example, carbon or methane) cost more. In other words, if you want people to use less of something, tax it, and then give society flexibility in achieving the desired reductions. If we ever get serious about climate change, that's what we will do.

Let me offer another example of how the environmental fight has to change tactics. In 1970, when the EPA was first started, the estimate of its water-quality office was that 85% of the problems of water pollution in the country were large point-source discharges, like municipal sewage-treatment plants or industrial operations. Only 15% were non-point sources—the runoff from city streets, suburban lawns, and rural and farm areas.

Over the course of the past four decades, we have largely brought the point-source pollution problem under control by instituting a national permit program that spells out for each discharger, whether industrial or municipal, precisely what they are allowed to put into waterways, and in the event they do not live up to those permit requirements, enforcement action is likely to follow.

By the same token, we have made little or no progress on non-point-source pollution. In fact, the EPA's latest estimate is that the percentage impact on receiving waters is just the reverse of that in 1970: 15% of the problem is point sources, and 85% of the impact is non-point sources.

Impractical Approach

The problem is that instituting a top-down solution for this kind of pollution is a lot more difficult than passing laws that target big industrial or municipal offenders. It turns out that while people will support such rules in the abstract, they aren't nearly as eager when it comes to allowing inspectors on their land to tell them how they should manage, say, storm-water runoffs. What's more, in practical terms, it's simply impossible to regulate and monitor everyone who owns property in these areas, as opposed to the comparatively small number of industrial plants and sewage facilities.

The result has been to frustrate efforts to clean up places like the Chesapeake Bay or the Great Lakes. These efforts have floundered on the shoals of landowner intractability in the face of regulatory mandates. Often the people who support the controls in the abstract and those who resist in the particular are one and the same.

Even when legislators or local governments mandate certain land-use practices, they will not appropriate money to hire inspectors to enforce them, or local courts will not back up the full reach of land-use restrictions. Our lawmakers and courts are simply reflecting the public's ideological/operational disconnect by their actions. (After all, that is what elected officials who want to stay elected do.)

Lessons for the Future

So what does this all mean for 2010? What does it mean for protecting the environment 40 years after that first Earth Day and nearly 40 years after the EPA first opened its doors?

I am convinced that when we put our creative minds to it, we are perfectly capable of harmonizing human prosperity and growth with environmental protection. But putting our mind to some of the more intractable modern problems like climate change and non-point-source pollution is indeed quite a task. It will take a level of public understanding and knowledge of the relationship between the way we live and what we are doing to our natural systems, coupled with a sense of responsibility for the stewardship of our planet, that does not currently exist.

My own experience in a variety of posts over the past 40 years leads me to certain conclusions.

First is that people affected by change have to be deeply involved in the crafting of solutions—they are going to pay for them either economically or through changes in how they live. We need more democracy, not less. Trying to enact rules centrally to control the behavior of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people in a watershed when their individual contribution is minuscule, but collectively overwhelming, is futile. We have been trying a command-and-control, top-down approach for the past four decades to control non-point sources of water pollution. The examples of the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound are grim testimony to our failure. If one solution doesn't work, the answer is not to push it harder but to look for new approaches.

Second, we have to get better at both involving people in the process of change and providing them with enough information to make that involvement useful and worthwhile. My experience recently helping with salmon recovery efforts in Puget Sound tells me that when people understand their self-interest in solving a problem, they are more than willing to agree to the trade-offs necessary to come to a solution.

Third, we need uniformly supported science and technical support to inform the discretion of the "deeply involved" people if they are going to come up with sustainable solutions. Dueling scientists make for confused participants in the decision-making process and the subsequent lawsuits lead to expensive and time-consuming nonsolutions. Yes, scientists often disagree, but if the parties affected take an adversarial position to one another at the outset, then scientific disagreement is inevitable. If all interested parties are working together and can agree on a scientist or group of scientists as they start their efforts to fashion a solution, they can avoid the court-inspired dueling-scientist phenomenon.

Hard Collaboration

Fortunately, we have some examples in the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound where all the interests affected by the needed changes have been invited to the table, and challenged by the government or themselves to put their positions in their pocket and their interests on the table. What people often find is that their interests can be harmonized, and we can have prosperous farms and healthy fish, safe drinking water and sustainable development, and so forth.

These citizen collaborations have to be carefully structured, stimulated and led by leaders in the government or private sector, facilitated by trained professionals, and end with an outcome of clear goals and objectives.

This is hard work: It takes time, effort and skills not often enjoyed by governments. But the payoffs from avoiding delays—and the economic and environmental costs that come with those delays—are well worth it.

If there is any overriding lesson we should learn from the progress we made over the past 40 years, it is this: We have always shown our ability to adapt to meet new and complex challenges, as long as we are given the chance to go to work on them.

Mr. Ruckelshaus was the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency upon its creation in 1970, and served as EPA administrator again during the 1980s. He is now the strategic director of Madrona Venture Group and chairman of the Leadership Council of Puget Sound Partnership.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303410404575151640963114892.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsThird

Posted via web from eWaste Disposal and Recycling

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Old TVs spark environmental dispute

Nine truck-size shipping containers filled with old televisions from a Brockton recycling company are at the center of an international dispute drawing attention to a major problem in the regulation of hazardous electronic waste: When is a product intended to be reused, and when is it trash?

The containers, shipped to Indonesia by CRT Recycling Inc., were seized by port officials there after an environmental organization staked out the company’s Massachusetts operations and alerted the Indonesian government about a possibly illegal shipment of e-waste.

The cathode-ray tubes in televisions and computer monitors contain more than four pounds of lead, as well as mercury and other toxins, that, if not disposed of properly, can seep into groundwater or soil. An international treaty restricts shipments of these tubes for disposal in developing countries.

But CRT Recycling says the TV tubes were being sent to the country to be reused - not thrown away. “We send good [material] overseas,’’ said Peter Kopcych, general manager of CRT, which takes thousands of tons of old computers and televisions every year from close to 200 municipalities, including some in Massachusetts.

Indonesia sent the containers back to Boston, and yesterday, the US Environmental Protection Agency released the shipment to the company, suggesting it found no clear violations of US law. The Indonesian government did not return e-mails and phone calls.

It can be difficult for the public to know where its old computers and televisions wind up. The United States has not ratified the Basel Convention treaty, a 172-nation pact to prevent the transfer of hazardous waste from developed countries to less-developed ones.

The Basel Convention considers cathode ray, or CRT tubes, hazardous waste, and it prohibits them from being sent to developing countries to be thrown away or recycled, according to the Basel Action Network, the group that alerted Indonesia to the shipment. To gain entry to those nations, many companies say the tubes are going to be reused or resold, the group said. Instead, it says, the majority of the tubes are burned, dumped, or, disassembled to extract reusable material by workers with little protection against toxins.

A 2008 Government Accountability Office report said US companies send broken CRTs overseas. Investigators posed as foreign buyers of broken CRTs in Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, and other countries - and 43 US companies told the investigators they would export those items. The report was critical of EPA’s oversight and enforcement.

“There is enough documented evidence indicating that monitors and other types of electronics shipped under the guise of resale or reuse winds up being disassembled in dangerous conditions,’’ said Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There is so much documentation consumers should assume that unless the material is going abroad [to be repaired under warranty] it will be disassembled.’’

Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based nonprofit, staked out CRT Recycling and took photographs of a container it says was being filled with computer monitors. Using container numbers and online shipping company databases, the group tracked the container and its ship to the port of Semarang, in Indonesia, in November. The group alerted the Indonesian government, which sent it back to the United States on Dec. 13, according to a letter from the Indonesian company slated to receive the material.

“We can explain that the green organization . . . known as ‘BASEL’ took photos of the cargo while being loaded in U.S.A. and then asked the Indonesian Environmental authorities to ship these containers back to the U.S.A. because BASEL CONVENTION description of CRT is ‘hazardous material,’ ’’ according to the letter from Intech Anugrah Indonesia.

Kopcych said Basel Action got its information wrong. The company sent televisions - not computer monitors - in the containers. And he said the Indonesian government never opened them to see what was inside. A Basel Action Network official said the Indonesian government did open the containers.

Kopcych said company representatives asked people whether their televisions worked when they picked them up, and the machines were separated based on the answer. In cases where there was no one to ask, the company workers separated the TVs themselves. He said it ships only 3 percent of all the televisions they collect, and of those, about 97 percent can be reused.

But Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network said those assertions defy belief. Research his group has done shows that 75 percent of CRT tubes sent overseas do not work. Testing should be done on each one, he said.

The United States needs to ban the export of e-waste, he said.

“Even though our own government knows that the importation of toxic waste from the US is a violation of the laws of most countries of the world, our own EPA shamefully allows the global dumping to continue.’’

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/03/02/old_televisions_spark_environmental_dispute/

Posted via web from eWaste Disposal

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Most Important Barack Obama Appointee: EPA Administrator Short List

Written by Jennifer Lance


President-Elect Barack Obama will inherit a host of problems from outgoing President Bush. From an economy in recession to the Iraq War, cleaning up from eight years of the worst US president is a immense task. Obama has already selected many former rivals, such as Hilary Clinton, for his cabinet, but the most important appointee he will make is the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although the EPA administrator is not a cabinet level position, this may change as Obama faces the crisis of climate change.


Under the Bush administration, the EPA has loss all credibility as an agency that protects Americans from air and water pollution.
According to the Washington Post,

“…over the past eight years, many career employees and rank-and-file scientists have clashed with Bush appointees over a number of those of issues, including whether the federal government should allow California to regulate tailpipe emissions from automobiles…”

Obama has vowed to bring integrity back to the agency by reversing Bush’s executive orders:

“I think the slow chipping away against clean air and clean water has been deeply disturbing. Much of it hasn’t gone through Congress. It was done by fiat. That is something that can be changed by an administration, in part by reinvigorating the EPA, which has been demoralized.”

The importance of who is selected to lead the EPA is so profound, Obama is considering elevating the position to cabinet-level status. In fact, Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, believes,

“The most important challenge facing the new administration is making serious progress on global warming pollution. That includes specific steps such as regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.”
Who will Obama chose for this formidable task? The following is a shortlist of possible EPA candidates being discussed in the mainstream media:

Kathleen McGinty-Former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Head: McGinty served as a top environmental official under President Clinton, and she has promoted renewable energy legislation in Pennsylvania while working with utility companies.
Mary Nichols-California Air Resources Board Leader: Another former Clinton official, Nichols is working on the development of rules to limit heat-trapping emissions from power plants in California. Nichols is Senator Boxer’s top pick for the job.
Ian Bowles-Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Leader: Bowles worked with officials from other Northeast U.S. states to open the first American market for trading greenhouse gas permits.
Kathleen Sibelius-Kansas Governor: Sebelius vetoed the Kansas legislature’s attempt to overrule the denial of a permit to expand a coal-fired power plant.
Lisa Jackson-New Jersey Environmental Commissioner: Jackson is the current co-chair of Barack Obama’s environmental transition team. She has worked at the EPA for 15 years and has focused on hazardous waste clean up and enforcement in New Jersey.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.-Environmental Lawyer: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is probably the most well-known candidate on the shortlist:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s reputation as a resolute defender of the environment stems from a litany of successful legal actions. Mr. Kennedy was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River.

According to Stop Global Warming, Lisa Jackson is the leading candidate to head Obama’s EPA, but no matter who gets the job, the task of curbing the effects of climate change immediately is monumental. Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, explained, “During the last eight years, we have made precious little progress against air pollution and we’ve missed some opportunities.” We can’t afford to miss any more opportunities.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is a Plane Boarding Pass a Threat?

We have looked at the stub from the boarding pass and wondered what to do with it. You most likely have found two or three in the seat pocket from the seats prior holders. But is the information dangerous?

Alone no, but it gives enough insight into you to get everything an identity thief needs. They get your name, a good idea of your home town and some recent travel information. The thief uses these bits of information to get more form unsuspecting customer service reps.

Always shred everything with your name or any other personally identifying information.

Read More.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Top 10 communities?

Is your municipal program in the top 10?

Municipalities across the U.S. and Canada are diverting e-scrap from landfills by providing opportunities for residents to drop off obsolete electronics for recycling. E-Scrap News is collecting data on the volume of e-waste being collected by municipalities and municipal program partners in order to compile a Top 10 list of municipal programs.
Two lists will be generated, covering both the top 10 programs in terms of overall volumes collected, as well as the top 10 programs based on pounds collected per capita. To do this, we need data from you, our readers, including:


Total tons of electronic scrap collected for recycling through the years
Number of years having offered the collection program
Population of the area served by your program.
This information will be shared at the upcoming E-Scrap 2008 Conference, as well as in one of our publications. If your program is in the top 10, we will contact you for a little more information about program dynamics.
Please submit the requested information via email to Henry Leineweber at henry@resource-recycling.com by June 1st.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

DURING THE PAST two years, numerous newspapers and television stories have focused on the management of electronic waste (e-waste), such as personal computers, televisions and cell phones. Usually, e-waste is considered a problem because ever-increasing amounts will be thrown away in the next few years. Additionally, many types of e-waste fail the toxic characteristic leachate procedure (TCLP) under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) Subtitle C regulations.

Two states have banned e-waste disposal in Subtitle D landfills. Massachusetts has a wide-ranging ban, for which it created a grant fund for e-waste materials recycling. California bans cathode ray tubes (CRTs) from Subtitle D landfills. But the problem with California's restriction is that waste haulers and local governments are responsible for e-waste recycling costs.
Last year, California tried to add financial viability to its program through a $10 point-of-purchase recycling fee on certain electronic products, but the legislation was vetoed by Gov. Gray Davis.

To help offset recycling's cost, Congress introduced legislation requiring a similar $10 fee when purchasing a laptop computer, notebook or monitor (H.R. 1165). However, most state and federal legislation dies without a hearing.

A decade ago, when states passed significant legislation requiring recycling, few states included financial support for their programs.

As a result, maintaining recycling programs and encouraging entrepreneurship for new recycling markets has been a continual struggle. The industry is hopeful that the knowledge gained from this experience will help to develop e-waste programs.

At the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), members and staff recently approved an industry policy about e-waste disposal and recycling to help direct decisionmakers. The policy emphasizes that the waste industry supports mandated e-waste recycling, but only when the mandate is backed by sound financing.

NSWMA's policy discussed two ways that already exist to recycle e-waste. The first approach is called “take-back” legislation, through which product manufacturers are responsible for receiving used electronic products and guaranteeing their safe recycling or disposal. The second method uses an “advance recycling fee,” which consumers pay at purchase time, to fund the recycling of electronic products. The key to these programs is that recycling becomes financially viable, the cost is distributed fairly to the users of the products and the entities that know best how to re-use such materials are the ones who receive them.

The four components of developing good e-waste and recycling programs are outlined in NSWMA's policy:

Build upon existing solid waste and recycling infrastructure for e-waste collection and processing.

Provide financial support for e-waste recycling through advance recycling fees or take-back provisions.

Ensure environmental, health and safety standards for the proper management of collected materials, including reporting and documentation procedures for end-markets.
Support programs that develop new processing technologies and new markets, including those that use recycled content in new electronic products. Also, in the case of take-back programs, support those that rate and date e-waste to ensure accountability.

Eventually, e-waste recycling will be the subject of national legislation, allowing manufacturers and distributors to create more financially viable programs as opposed to separate plans for individual states. And to the extent that states decide to move forward with their individual e-waste recycling programs, the waste industry will continue to work with decision-makers in understanding how to make sense of the options.

For more information on NSWMA's policy and recycling efforts, contact Chaz Miller, director of state programs toll-free at (800) 424-2869 or e-mail cmiller@envasns.org.
Alice P. Jacobsohn is the EIA's manager of public affairs and industry research.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

WHEN CALIFORNIA PASSED the Electronic Waste and Recycling Act of 2003, it became the first state to legislate the handling and disposal of e-waste. The act establishes a point-of-purchase fee ranging from $6 to $10 that consumers will pay to retailers to help cover the costs of e-waste recycling.

Nevertheless, the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB), Sacramento, expects the management and operational costs for haulers, municipalities, and recyclers of e-waste to increase as the number of one-day special events to collect the waste grows. Curbside and commingled collection methods often are not practical for monitors and tvs because these items tend to be too bulky for residential pickups and have high breakage rates.

In anticipation of this trend, and to help smooth out some of the challenges of hosting collection events, Peninsula Sanitary Services Inc. (PSSI), Stanford, Calif., Dell Computers, Round Rock, Texas, and the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), Washington, D.C., developed a public-private partnership and sponsored a two-day e-waste collection workshop at Stanford University in October. The workshop uncovered three top challenges to e-waste collection events: controlling finances, managing logistics and quantifying the event.

Controlling finances

Based on PSSI's workshop, the partners estimate an e-waste collection event can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,00 for a small event to $25,000 to $50,000 for a large hauler. PSSI's collection budget was approximately $15,000.

Workshop leaders say inviting corporate sponsors and donors to participate — a task that is not so easily accomplished — is one of the best ways to cut costs. Few major computer manufacturers are willing to pay for the collection of e-waste that is not their own. Local ordinances also may prevent a sponsor from advertising on public property with banners or logos. However, obtaining federal, state, local or private foundation grants and soliciting volunteers will help entice corporate sponsors because companies will be more likely to participate if the financial burden will be shared.

To attract unpaid volunteers, companies should allow partners, civic groups or nonprofit organizations to receive the donated computers. Volunteer Match [www.volunteermatch.com] can be used to help find volunteer event staffing. Remember to train volunteers and to obtain a waiver or signed release from them excusing the waste hauler or event sponsor from liability.

Managing logistics

Logistics are best left up to professional service providers because they have expertise in acquiring the necessary permits, security, traffic control, insurance, signage, safety equipment, containers, semi tractor-trailers, forklifts, drivers and material handlers. Additionally, a key component of the collection of monitors is reuse or resale. It is important that a logistics company with experience in handling electronics be used to ensure a higher yield rate on materials.

Quantifying the event

Quantifying an event can help advertise and promote future workshops, and it can land additional grant money. Numbers and statistics will prove to potential sponsors and to the public that the waste hauler is operating efficiently.

PSSI collected more than 47 tons of surplus, obsolete or end-of-life monitors, computers and related equipment. With a budget of $15,000, collection costs amounted to approximately $319 per ton, which is toward the low end of the spectrum. Studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., state that e-waste collection costs range from $240 per ton to $1,240 per ton.

In addition to adding e-waste runs to curbside routes, increasing one-day e-waste events demonstrates the waste industry's concern and creativity in solving an environmental problem. More information on e-waste events can be found in “Computer Recycling for Education,” available at Barnes & Noble Bookstores or www.computerrecycleforeduc.com.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wireless Worries

HIGH-PITCHED DIGITAL MELODIES and the phrase, “Can you hear me now?” have become mainstream in recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of wireless phones. But while consumers are buying phones equipped with games, text messaging and cameras, the industry has yet to provide for another important demand — an easy disposal system for that outdated phone and a product that is easy to recycle or refurbish.

Next year, Americans are predicted to buy more than 100 million new cell phones and stuff their old phones into closets, drawers and other nooks around the house or office. At that point, the stockpile of out-of-service phones will rise to 500 million units weighing 250,000 tons (about one pound each), according to “Calling All Cell Phones,” a 2003 report by Inform Inc., a New York-based research organization.

“The numbers today are the same as what we found in 2003,” says Eric Most, who authored the Inform report. “At current rates of recovery, hundreds of millions of used cell phones will soon wind up in landfills or incinerators where they'll release arsenic, lead, cadmium and many other toxic materials that threaten human health and the environment,” he says.

Thus, the cell phone industry is scrambling to develop comprehensive disposal alternatives. Cell phone recycling programs are moving in the right direction, Most says, but their scope is dwarfed by the stunning growth of the industry. In 1995, wireless phone carriers supplied service to approximately 34 million subscribers. At the beginning of 2003, there were 141 million cell phone users. According to industry estimates, the average cell phone lasts about 1.5 years. If this estimate is correct, 141 million more phones will require disposal by the end of 2005.

But developing recycling streams for new products takes time. Between 1999 and early 2003, cell phone recycling efforts netted fewer than 5 million phones, about 1 percent of those discarded.

Wireless industry affiliates account for the lion's share of discarded cell phone collection and recycling, according to Inform. Programs include Donate-A-Phone, operated by the Washington, D.C.-based Wireless Foundation, and the Call-To-Protect program, which Verizon Wireless of Bedminster, N.J., operates through its organization HopeLine. AT&T Wireless recently entered the field with a Wireless Reuse & Recycle program.

Additionally, a number of manufacturers and wireless carriers participate in Wireless Foundation programs: Alltel, Cingular, Motorola, Nextel, Rural Cellular Corp. and Sprint. These programs refurbish phones and donate them to charities or resell them to new users. Cell phones that cannot be refurbished are recycled back into the manufacturing process. However, that leaves 495 million cell phones with no place to go but the landfill.

“Bottom line, this is a matter for concern, but not alarm,” says Bruce Parker, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), a sub-association of the Environmental Industry Association (EIA). “Every few years, the e-waste stream changes as technology replaces older products. The technical ability to discover toxic and potentially negative aspects of electronic products is still far ahead of the ability to deal with those discoveries in terms of social policies.”

Parker goes on to note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., currently is working with companies that manufacture electronic products to develop an infrastructure of programs to refurbish and recycle e-waste, including cell phones. Yet he believes the responsibility for dealing with e-waste must ultimately fall on manufacturers and retailers.

“It is an upstream responsibility,” Parker says. “We are part of the loop in that we eyeball incoming trash and comply with landfill bans by sending banned materials back. But you can't deal with the problem itself downstream at the landfill.”

The Inform report draws a similar conclusion and recommends a number of steps to help cell phone retailers and manufacturers control the problem.

The recommendations include national advertising campaigns that advise consumers to return their old cell phones to stores and manufacturers, to take advantage of cell phone collection drives, and to donate cell phones to charities that refurbish and redistribute the phones.
Inform also recommends that manufacturers develop more durable plastic components to reduce the number of parts that must be replaced during phone refurbishing. Manufacturers also could standardize cell phone design elements, such as adapters, batteries and accessories, to speed refurbishing and allow more parts to be recycled back into manufacturing. Other recommendations include reducing toxic contaminants in parts, simplifying software reprogramming procedures and color-coding batteries to simplify sorting.

The Inform report also makes four suggestions to public policy makers:

Require consumers to make deposits on cell phone purchases. The promise of a refund would provide an incentive to return used phones for reuse and recycling.
Institute landfill bans on cell phones.

Make manufacturers responsible for managing end-of-life cell phones to create incentives for manufacturers to design products that are easier to refurbish and recycle.
Evaluate the effectiveness of such policies by requiring manufacturers, retailers and recyclers to report on the collection, recycling, refurbishment and eventual end-use of old cell phones.
Efforts to keep cell phones out of landfills may not hold huge selling power among consumers. But if the industry continues to develop technology at its current pace, investing in reusable products could be music to the waste industry's ears.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wireless

HIGH-PITCHED DIGITAL MELODIES and the phrase, “Can you hear me now?” have become mainstream in recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of wireless phones. But while consumers are buying phones equipped with games, text messaging and cameras, the industry has yet to provide for another important demand — an easy disposal system for that outdated phone and a product that is easy to recycle or refurbish.

Next year, Americans are predicted to buy more than 100 million new cell phones and stuff their old phones into closets, drawers and other nooks around the house or office. At that point, the stockpile of out-of-service phones will rise to 500 million units weighing 250,000 tons (about one pound each), according to “Calling All Cell Phones,” a 2003 report by Inform Inc., a New York-based research organization.

“The numbers today are the same as what we found in 2003,” says Eric Most, who authored the Inform report. “At current rates of recovery, hundreds of millions of used cell phones will soon wind up in landfills or incinerators where they'll release arsenic, lead, cadmium and many other toxic materials that threaten human health and the environment,” he says.

Thus, the cell phone industry is scrambling to develop comprehensive disposal alternatives. Cell phone recycling programs are moving in the right direction, Most says, but their scope is dwarfed by the stunning growth of the industry. In 1995, wireless phone carriers supplied service to approximately 34 million subscribers. At the beginning of 2003, there were 141 million cell phone users. According to industry estimates, the average cell phone lasts about 1.5 years. If this estimate is correct, 141 million more phones will require disposal by the end of 2005.

But developing recycling streams for new products takes time. Between 1999 and early 2003, cell phone recycling efforts netted fewer than 5 million phones, about 1 percent of those discarded.

Wireless industry affiliates account for the lion's share of discarded cell phone collection and recycling, according to Inform. Programs include Donate-A-Phone, operated by the Washington, D.C.-based Wireless Foundation, and the Call-To-Protect program, which Verizon Wireless of Bedminster, N.J., operates through its organization HopeLine. AT&T Wireless recently entered the field with a Wireless Reuse & Recycle program.

Additionally, a number of manufacturers and wireless carriers participate in Wireless Foundation programs: Alltel, Cingular, Motorola, Nextel, Rural Cellular Corp. and Sprint. These programs refurbish phones and donate them to charities or resell them to new users. Cell phones that cannot be refurbished are recycled back into the manufacturing process. However, that leaves 495 million cell phones with no place to go but the landfill.

“Bottom line, this is a matter for concern, but not alarm,” says Bruce Parker, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), a sub-association of the Environmental Industry Association (EIA). “Every few years, the e-waste stream changes as technology replaces older products. The technical ability to discover toxic and potentially negative aspects of electronic products is still far ahead of the ability to deal with those discoveries in terms of social policies.”

Parker goes on to note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., currently is working with companies that manufacture electronic products to develop an infrastructure of programs to refurbish and recycle e-waste, including cell phones. Yet he believes the responsibility for dealing with e-waste must ultimately fall on manufacturers and retailers.

“It is an ups
tream responsibility,” Parker says. “We are part of the loop in that we eyeball incoming trash and comply with landfill bans by sending banned materials back. But you can't deal with the problem itself downstream at the landfill.”

The Inform report draws a similar conclusion and recommends a number of steps to help cell phone retailers and manufacturers control the problem.

The recommendations include national advertising campaigns that advise consumers to return their old cell phones to stores and manufacturers, to take advantage of cell phone collection drives, and to donate cell phones to charities that refurbish and redistribute the phones.
Inform also recommends that manufacturers develop more durable plastic components to reduce the number of parts that must be replaced during phone refurbishing. Manufacturers also could standardize cell phone design elements, such as adapters, batteries and accessories, to speed refurbishing and allow more parts to be recycled back into manufacturing. Other recommendations include reducing toxic contaminants in parts, simplifying software reprogramming procedures and color-coding batteries to simplify sorting.

The Inform report also makes four suggestions to public policy makers:

Require consumers to make deposits on cell phone purchases. The promise of a refund would provide an incentive to return used phones for reuse and recycling.

Institute landfill bans on cell phones.

Make manufacturers responsible for managing end-of-life cell phones to create incentives for manufacturers to design products that are easier to refurbish and recycle.
Evaluate the effectiveness of such policies by requiring manufacturers, retailers and recyclers to report on the collection, recycling, refurbishment and eventual end-use of old cell phones.
Efforts to keep cell phones out of landfills may not hold huge selling power among consumers. But if the industry continues to develop technology at its current pace, investing in reusable products could be music to the waste industry's ears.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Waste Management

Waste managers want to combine software systems to automate tasks, increase productivity and overcome problems.


As a scale supervisor for transfer stations operated by Helena, Mont., Kathy Goroski wants a single software application that will handle scale transactions, collections and routing. For years, she's had no luck.

Why, she asks, isn't there a software application that automates all of the information tasks associated with a solid waste management operation — from collection through disposal? Today, her vendors are working out the final details of an integration project that will automate many of those tasks by enabling different software systems to talk to each other.

Waste operation managers across the country are demanding a connection of systems to automate expensive, time-consuming manual tasks. They want the various software applications at work in their organizations to combine forces, swap data and solve costly productivity problems.

Integration in Helena

In Helena, Kathy Goroski's transfer station scales process solid waste for 60,000 residential, commercial and roll-off customers. For years, the facility has used Wilmington, N.C.-based Carolina Software Inc.'s WasteWORKS to automate and record scale house transactions.
Not long ago, the city purchased RAMS-Pro, an application developed by Alpine Technology Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., to handle route management, billing and other administrative functions. The product provides an automated route manager that re-balances service routes. It also smoothes the wrinkles that solid waste billing systems confront, such as managing letters to customers and handling spreadsheets that tabulate sales quotes.

The system also integrates related tasks. If, for example, a receptionist transfers a phone call to customer service, the account automatically appears on the representative's screen. In addition, the program checks container inventories and generates work orders to have containers delivered. But the system doesn't have scale-house capabilities, Goroski says.

“One day Kathy asked me: ‘Can RAMS-Pro talk to WasteWORKS?’” recalls Jon Leeds, a vice president of Carolina Software. “We talked with Alpine and discovered that we had similar philosophies about data integration and decided we could make it work for Helena.”
Leeds says local governments, haulers and disposal facilities would all benefit from considering how they would like to manipulate information and then working to create partnerships between suppliers rather than purchasing packages and discovering that the two systems can't be made to talk to each other.

While Goroski awaits the integrated software, she is making plans to mine and organize data in ways not possible without the integration. For instance, she wants to evaluate the city's solid waste programs and pricing. Helena residents pay $161 per year for solid waste services, entitling them to once-a-week pickup of a 90-gallon container (additional containers are covered under a pay-as-you-throw program), bulk waste pick-ups and a permit to self-haul two tons of solid waste to the landfill.

“In the past, we have not been able to track how many residents use the bulk-hauling service and the landfill permit,” Goroski says. With the software integration, “I'll be able to track tonnage brought in on permit and bulk orders and determine how often customers use those services.”

“It's possible that a large percentage of our residents use just the weekly collection and never call the bulk truck or use the landfill permit,” she adds. “If that's true, it might be possible to lower residential rates by $40 per year by doing away with the landfill permits. If just a few people use the permits and bulk pick-ups, then we shouldn't charge everyone for those services.”

The integration also will enhance billing services for commercial, roll-off and landfill customers alike. Right now, the city's Solid Waste Department piggybacks on the city's water bills, a system that has worked poorly. Property owners traditionally pay water bills, while tenants pay for waste collection, so the city is, in some cases, sending bills to the wrong person, Goroski notes.
In addition, since there is no room to provide service details, the city can't justify fees on the invoices. As a result, customers call and ask for details. Roll-off customers, for instance, want to know the daily charge, the number of hauls and the tonnage. “We have the details, but we can't put them on the bills,” Goroski says. “So, someone has to take the time to look up the information and provide it to customers.”

The new system will provide two-sided paper bills with details about both collection and transfer station services made possible by the integration. After the integration, Helena also will provide customers with online billing services.

Efficiency in Sacramento Co.

In Sacramento County, Calif., a private contractor processes the county's single-stream recycling collections. The county wants a weekly report from the contractor summarizing the tonnages collected. Up until last year, the contractor exported the data to an Excel file using its own scale-house software. Then, county personnel entered the data by hand into the county's WasteWORKS scale-house software.

Now, the two systems communicate to automatically enter the information into the county's program, says Doug Kobold, program manager for the county's Department of Waste Management and Recycling.

Kobold is planning another system integration. On the collection side, the county uses Routesmart from Columbia, Md.-based Routesmart Technologies Inc. to optimize routes. “It would be great to use information from the scale-house system to give [the routing system] a way to balance routes based on tonnage as well as on a map,” he says.

Kobold also has a small consulting business and is working with a hauling company that wants two of its systems to talk to each other about the commercial and roll-off sides of the business. One system is a routing software package with a billing component. When a truck makes a pick-up, the pick-up is entered in the billing module as a transaction. The second system is the scale-house system that tracks tonnage at disposal sites.

Sometimes, the billing module in the routing system needs tonnage information from the scale-house system to complete its billing work. For example, roll-offs that dispose of more than four tons generate an extra charge. Right now, tonnage data for disposal transactions must be keyed into the routing system.

Kobold's plan is to set up both the routing system and the scale-house system to export relevant data, which a spreadsheet can then combine and make available to the billing system as needed. “Another goal is to get the reporting to a level acceptable to regulators,” Kobold says. “This will require procedures that will send certain tonnage information to one system for reporting purposes and certain tonnage information to the billing system. Tonnages used by the billing system, however, will not be used for reporting.”

Automating Analyses

Last year, Hillsboro Garbage Disposal Inc. in Hillsboro, Ore., converted to PC Scales' Tower 6.0 routing, billing and accounting software. One of the first projects Information Technology Director Jason Barnes set for himself was to use the system's reporting capability to evaluate route profitability. However, the only way to get relevant real time route data from another system into the software was to enter it by hand. “We didn't want to get caught up in mass data entry that can occur when using incompatible software applications,” Barnes says.

So, Barnes integrated Tower 6.0 with the Routeware Back Office software, which works in conjunction with Routeware's on-board computer system. “The on-boards give us the actual time of service we need to evaluate route profitability and efficiency,” he says. “Additionally, we can analyze profitability at the individual customer level using drive time to location, time spent servicing containers and time spent traveling to the next customer.”

The integration has made it possible for data to move back and forth between the two systems. As a result, Hillsboro can view the data using reporting features from either application. “This eliminates the need to manually import and export data between the two applications,” Barnes says.

Helena's Goroski probably won't get her wish of one all-encompassing solid waste software capable of operating on an enterprise level. The market seems too small to support such an undertaking. Still, vendors across the industry are talking to customers about integrating their products with others. To facilitate those integrations, many software application packages are becoming less proprietary and more capable of combining forces.

Michael Fickes is a Westminster, Md.-based contributing writer.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

E Bay and E Waste

TO KEEP DISCARDED COMPUTERS and other electronic products out of the nation's landfills, San Jose, Calif.-based eBay Inc. and a group of computer, governmental and environmental organizations have launched an e-recycling campaign. Called the Rethink Initiative, the project seeks to promote e-recycling awareness and to facilitate the safe disposal of electronic devices.

The focal point of the campaign is an eBay-run Web site (www.ebay.com/rethink) that educates consumers about e-waste. Consumers can use the site to find an e-recycler located near them and to review a checklist of questions to consider when selecting a recycler.

To prepare computers for recycling, the site provides a program that erases hard-drive data.

The Rethink Initiative also encourages consumers to resell their unwanted electronic devices or donate them to a charity. The program's Web site contains information on how to do both.
The initiative comes at a time when Americans are disposing of electronic devices in significant quantities. While unused electronic devices are often left in garages, closets or storage rooms, roughly 2 million tons of e-waste makes its way into landfills each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington. Electronic devices often contain toxic substances such as lead and mercury, and environmental groups argue that it is dangerous to place them in landfills. Some states, such as California and Maine, have banned cathode ray tubes from landfills.

Chaz Miller, state programs director for the Washington-based Environmental Industry Associations, says there is no evidence that toxic substances leach from e-waste when placed in landfills. Still, he applauds the Rethink Initiative, calling it a “creative attempt” to remove electronics from the waste stream. “It's a great idea,” he says. “Let's see how it works.”
Other members of the Rethink Initiative are Intel Corp., Santa Clara, Calif.; Apple, Cupertino, Calif.; Gateway, Irvine, Calif.; Hewlett-Packard Co. Palo Alto, Calif.; and IBM Corp., White Plains, N.Y. The EPA is a participant as well. A complete list of the members also is available on the project's Web site.

The Rethink Initiative launch is not the only e-recycling news to emerge in recent weeks. The EPA's Plug In to eCycling Program has announced the results of four pilot projects held last year to test the viability of collecting used electronics in retail settings. The EPA provided technical services for the pilots.

In one month-long test, 115,000 pounds of used electronics were collected for recycling by Staples stores throughout New England. Another month-long pilot in the Pacific Northwest captured 197,000 pounds of televisions at Good Guys electronic stores. In a series of day-long collection events in Minnesota and Wisconsin held last summer and fall, 357,500 pounds of electronics were collected, primarily at Best Buy and Target stores. In the fourth project, Office Depot and Hewlett-Packard operated a more-than-two-month program that gathered more than 10.5 million pounds of electronics at Office Depots nationwide.

“The programs were successful,” says Dave Deegan, EPA spokesman. The agency is evaluating the pilot results to help outline future projects, he says.

The EPA also recently awarded eight contracts to small businesses to provide e-recycling and disposal services for federal agencies and buildings throughout the nation. Traditionally, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has handled the disposition of used federal electronics, says Oliver Voss, a service center manager for the EPA's Office of Acquisition Management.
Agencies will still be able to use GSA to get rid of old equipment. However, unlike the GSA, the EPA's contracted firms will provide an audit trail to show where the equipment ends up, Voss says.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Plug In Recycling

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, recognized the collaborative efforts of its Plug-In to e-Cycling partners for recycling more than 60 million pounds of electronic waste during the past three years.

The 21 Plug-In partners, who include electronic manufacturers and other businesses, were recognized at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., on Jan. 7.

The Plug-In program, which was launched in January 2003, aims to promote and increase e-waste recycling efforts and provide businesses and consumers with more take back opportunities.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Californians against Waste

Welcome to the Home of Californians Against Waste!

Hot Issues

We want to thank all of our friends and stakeholders for your continued support for California's environment and for Californians Against Waste.

Among our priorities in 2008:

Reduce the proliferation of plastic litter and waste in the environment through new state and local policies on takeout food packaging, including restrictions on PVC and Polystyrene.
Expanding California's e-waste policy to reduce toxics and increase opportunities and incentives for recycling.

California's ambitious effort to combat climate change and reduce GHG emissions will require that we substantially reduce waste beyond our existing goals. But if we are to be successful, we need to shift from the 'back end' focus and burden on local governments, to proven 'front end' producer responsibility strategies aimed at source reduction and market development, as well as recycling. And as always, we welcome your advice and assistance in identifying problems that need our attention and solutions that need to be brought to the attention of policy makers. Please do not hesitate to call or e-mail me any time.It's an ambitious agenda, but with your help I'm confident we can be successful. Please help us fulfill this agenda by going here now!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Green

LEED Exploded in Popularity, Major Cities Dropped the Green Hammer on Private Developers, and CBRE is Going Carbon Neutral. Which One was Most Influential?

Find Out Who Took the Top Spot.

It was a good year to be Equity Office Properties, a better year to be Blackstone. It was not a good year to be Countrywide Home Loans. Grubb & Ellis, Archstone-Smith and Hilton Hotels are all under new ownership. But long after the conversations of cheap debt, credit crunches and private equity are played out, 2007 is likely to be remembered by just one word: green. "It's now on the lips of little-bitty babies coming from their mothers' womb," comedian Whoopi Goldberg told TIME in nominating the word "green" for its Person of the Year.

"It's being used by people who never thought about it before in their lives." The rise of green, a fringe issue until this year, is now being felt across the industry. Developers like Hines and ProLogis are going green from the ground up, while trade groups like BOMA, CoreNet and ICSC are preaching it to the top firms on down. Architects are designing it, property managers are applying it, brokerages are advocating it. And tenants and investors are buying into it, thanks to new eco-friendly corporate agendas, bloated energy costs, local lawmakers and looming federal regulation. Corporations are demonstrating they're willing to pay a premium to work in sustainable office space, while the federal government -- by far the nation's largest tenant and property owner -- has mandated sustainability across much of its real estate portfolio.

The volume of green real estate is expected to quintuple by 2010 to comprise 10 percent of the U.S. building stock, according to a conservative study by McGraw Hill Construction. "Green building is fundamentally altering real estate market dynamics ... The upshot will be a redefinition of what constitutes Class A properties and even institutional-quality real estate," said a November study on sustainable real estate investing by RREEF, one of the nation's largest property investors. "Property owners will need to adapt quickly -- or risk the consequences of sharply shrinking demand for property that, over time, becomes increasingly obsolete."

CoStar News explored the year that was in green real estate and found a few favorites. Here are our Top 10 picks for 2007's most influential green events.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Retailers

Attntion Retailers!

Effective July 1, 2007,

Sales of New or Refurbished

Portable DVD Players with
Liquid Crystal Displays
(measuring more than four inches diagonally)

Are Subject to theElectronic Waste Recycling (Ewaste) Fee

To register and report theEwaste feeor for more information,please contact us at
www.boe.ca.gov/sptaxprog/ewaste.htm or call the Environmental FeesWaste Reduction Section at 916-341-6906 State Board of Equalization , www.boe.ca.gov

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Illinois Comittment

Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has issued an executive order instructing state agencies to recycle electronic equipment at the end of its useful life. The order, signed today, applies to all state agencies, boards and commissions under the governor's control. According to the publication Government Technology, the order was precipitated by research and recommendations from the Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Commission, established in 2005.

"By directing state agencies to be more responsible with potentially toxic electronic waste, we can ensure that state government is doing what it can to keep our land and water clean, and people safe," said Blagojevich in a statement, adding, "Industries and households across Illinois also dispose of outdated or broken electronic equipment. We should make sure they are not putting the public in harm's way when they dispose of their electronics. I will urge the General Assembly to build on the efforts of my administration by adopting statewide electronics recycling legislation."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Flat Panel TV's

Flat Panel Displays (FPD) in electronic products such as televisions and computer monitors have quickly grown in popularity. The most common FPDs are liquid crystal displays (LCD) and plasma displays. By 2008, devices that contain FPDs are projected to account for nearly 85 percent of the total U.S. demand for electronic products. By 2013, the demand is predicted to reach 94 percent.

While relatively few FPD devices have entered the waste stream so far, they represent a potentially large volume of material that will be recycled or discarded in the future. Because of this, we need to fully evaluate how to manage these materials and determine if there are any potential risks associated with the end-of-life handling of these products.

Taking a proactive approach to this issue, the King County Solid Waste Division in Washington State has conducted the first known comprehensive review of information regarding the end-of-life management issues associated with FPDs. The goal was to identify and quantify potential chemicals of concern, evaluate hazards associated with these chemicals and assess potential risks from recycling electronic products containing FPDs. The results are reported in “Flat Panel Displays: End of Life Management Report,” which was published earlier this year. The report serves as a resource for a broad group of players — from local governments to e-waste processors — who are determining how to manage products that contain FPDs.

The report includes available information on the various chemicals used in FPD devices. Researchers found a considerable amount of data about the use and toxicity of chemicals of potential concern, including heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium, as well as brominated flame-retardants. Some uncertainty remains, however, about the full spectrum of potentially hazardous FPD constituents and the toxicity of some components, such as liquid crystals. Moreover, no studies have specifically addressed the potential exposure risks to recycling workers and communities near electronics recycling facilities.

LCDs are the dominant technology used in FPD devices. An LCD is made up of a number of pixels arrayed in front of a light source or reflector. Approximately 300 different liquid crystal compounds are available for use in LCDs. Depending on its specific performance attributes, a typical LCD can contain as many as 25 different liquid crystal substances.

Manufacturers of liquid crystals have run several batteries of toxicity tests of individual liquid crystals and a variety of mixtures. Findings to date suggest low acute toxicity, minimal skin/eye irritant effects, low potential for cancer effects based largely on mutagenicity tests, as well as low bioaccumulation potential and aquatic toxicity. For proprietary reasons, much of the supporting scientific data behind these conclusions were not available for review but reportedly meet or exceed European Union and Japanese criteria for hazardous material production and handling.
While available data suggest a low potential for harmful effects, testing regimens are based on the premise that long-term exposure to large quantities of liquid crystals is not likely. As a result, no chronic animal studies have been conducted that look at cancer and other effects following prolonged exposure to liquid crystals. Data on the potential for liquid crystal release during end-of-life management of LCDs also is absent.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has evaluated the potential hazards and risks associated with the release of liquid crystals as part of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals Program. For several years, companies have been required to submit “premanufacturing notices” to the agency. Based on these reviews, EPA has concluded that there is not an unreasonable risk associated with the manufacture, processing and use of this large class of chemicals. However, this determination is based on theoretical modeling studies, not actual toxicity data. In addition, TSCA doesn't typically require a New Chemical Program review for chemicals that are contained within imported “articles.” Therefore, liquid crystals employed in an imported manufactured item — such as a panel or complete display unit — may not be reviewed by EPA under TSCA. King County's report therefore recommends further evaluation of liquid crystals before a definitive conclusion is drawn regarding potential risks associated with the end-of-life management of liquid crystal compounds.

Researchers also conducted interviews with selected recycling facilities regarding their operating procedures, seeking to gather information on the primary processes currently used to recycle FPD devices. Researchers found many different processing procedures and a wide range of standards for workers' protective gear. The report identifies a need for industry guidance for recycling FPD devices. Researchers found the most probable sources for exposures and releases to the environment were from e-waste dismantling and from activities at recycling facilities such as manual disassembly, shredding, grinding, burning and melting (to reclaim plastics), solder melting and metals processing. More information is needed to develop appropriate risk management guidance.

The report also found that the few state and federal regulations and guidelines addressing end-of-life management of electronic products have limitations or do not address the recycling of specific components.

Where Do We Go from Here?

King County sees this report as an opportunity to further the conversation about the proper management and recycling of devices that contain flat panel displays. This report is a starting place for building a combined industry effort to learn more about the substances contained in flat panel displays and best practices for managing these materials. Ultimately, proper management approaches should protect workers, surrounding communities and the environment.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

E Bay and e Waste

TO KEEP DISCARDED COMPUTERS and other electronic products out of the nation's landfills, San Jose, Calif.-based eBay Inc. and a group of computer, governmental and environmental organizations have launched an e-recycling campaign. Called the Rethink Initiative, the project seeks to promote e-recycling awareness and to facilitate the safe disposal of electronic devices.

The focal point of the campaign is an eBay-run Web site (www.ebay.com/rethink) that educates consumers about e-waste. Consumers can use the site to find an e-recycler located near them and to review a checklist of questions to consider when selecting a recycler. To prepare computers for recycling, the site provides a program that erases hard-drive data.

The Rethink Initiative also encourages consumers to resell their unwanted electronic devices or donate them to a charity. The program's Web site contains information on how to do both.
The initiative comes at a time when Americans are disposing of electronic devices in significant quantities. While unused electronic devices are often left in garages, closets or storage rooms, roughly 2 million tons of e-waste makes its way into landfills each year, according to the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington. Electronic devices often contain toxic substances such as lead and mercury, and environmental groups argue that it is dangerous to place them in landfills. Some states, such as California and Maine, have banned cathode ray tubes from landfills.

Chaz Miller, state programs director for the Washington-based Environmental Industry Associations, says there is no evidence that toxic substances leach from e-waste when placed in landfills. Still, he applauds the Rethink Initiative, calling it a “creative attempt” to remove electronics from the waste stream. “It's a great idea,” he says. “Let's see how it works.”
Other members of the Rethink Initiative are Intel Corp., Santa Clara, Calif.; Apple, Cupertino, Calif.; Gateway, Irvine, Calif.; Hewlett-Packard Co. Palo Alto, Calif.; and IBM Corp., White Plains, N.Y. The EPA is a participant as well. A complete list of the members also is available on the project's Web site.

The Rethink Initiative launch is not the only e-recycling news to emerge in recent weeks. The EPA's Plug In to eCycling Program has announced the results of four pilot projects held last year to test the viability of collecting used electronics in retail settings. The EPA provided technical services for the pilots.

In one month-long test, 115,000 pounds of used electronics were collected for recycling by Staples stores throughout New England. Another month-long pilot in the Pacific Northwest captured 197,000 pounds of televisions at Good Guys electronic stores. In a series of day-long collection events in Minnesota and Wisconsin held last summer and fall, 357,500 pounds of electronics were collected, primarily at Best Buy and Target stores. In the fourth project, Office Depot and Hewlett-Packard operated a more-than-two-month program that gathered more than 10.5 million pounds of electronics at Office Depots nationwide.

“The programs were successful,” says Dave Deegan, EPA spokesman. The agency is evaluating the pilot results to help outline future projects, he says.

The EPA also recently awarded eight contracts to small businesses to provide e-recycling and disposal services for federal agencies and buildings throughout the nation. Traditionally, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has handled the disposition of used federal electronics, says Oliver Voss, a service center manager for the EPA's Office of Acquisition Management.
Agencies will still be able to use GSA to get rid of old equipment. However, unlike the GSA, the EPA's contracted firms will provide an audit trail to show where the equipment ends up, Voss says.

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