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    1. Beyond RCRA: Prospects for Waste and Materials Management in the Year 2020 Presentation at Metropolitan Washington COG Recycling Committee January 16, 2003 RCRAs regulatory system is more than twenty years old now - weve come a long way over the past two decades in managing wastes more safely and responsibly in this country. But theres room for improvement. A lot of us who have been in the waste world for a while feel that now is a good time to start thinking and talking about where this countrys waste program might be headed twenty years or so from now, what trends and developments might influence the future shape of the program, and how the program could (and should) evolve to meet the challenges and opportunities that the future may hold. Its pretty hard to predict the future twenty years from now, of course. Back in 1980, who could have predicted things like internet-based reporting, electronic manifests, or the advances weve made in recycling, cleanup technologies, and clarifying the definition of solid waste (pause for laughter), just to name a few important changes that a lot of us have seen during our RCRA careers. Despite the uncertainties involved with looking into the future - we have to at least try to look ahead and attempt to prepare intelligently for what lies ahead.RCRAs regulatory system is more than twenty years old now - weve come a long way over the past two decades in managing wastes more safely and responsibly in this country. But theres room for improvement. A lot of us who have been in the waste world for a while feel that now is a good time to start thinking and talking about where this countrys waste program might be headed twenty years or so from now, what trends and developments might influence the future shape of the program, and how the program could (and should) evolve to meet the challenges and opportunities that the future may hold. Its pretty hard to predict the future twenty years from now, of course. Back in 1980, who could have predicted things like internet-based reporting, electronic manifests, or the advances weve made in recycling, cleanup technologies, and clarifying the definition of solid waste (pause for laughter), just to name a few important changes that a lot of us have seen during our RCRA careers. Despite the uncertainties involved with looking into the future - we have to at least try to look ahead and attempt to prepare intelligently for what lies ahead.

    2. 2 SLIDES In 1999, we formed a small workgroup with representatives from OSW, the states and EPA regional offices, to develop some ideas for RCRAs long-term future. This effort become known as the RCRA Vision project. The workgroup recognized that when talk turns to improving RCRA, we who do this for a living tend to have a hard time stepping away from the current program , and looking at it in a truly objective way. So we thought it would be a good idea to hear from people who arent really RCRA experts or stakeholders, but whove been thinking about waste-related issues from very different, outside perspectives. About two years ago we convened a roundtable meeting with twelve outside people that we thought might fill this bill and who had some credibility in their respective fields. They came from academia, industry, public interest groups, and government. --Reid Lifset, Bob Socolow, Emily Matthews, Brad Allenby, Earl Beavers We actually got a lot out of the meetingall in all it was a pretty impressive group. 2 SLIDES In 1999, we formed a small workgroup with representatives from OSW, the states and EPA regional offices, to develop some ideas for RCRAs long-term future. This effort become known as the RCRA Vision project. The workgroup recognized that when talk turns to improving RCRA, we who do this for a living tend to have a hard time stepping away from the current program , and looking at it in a truly objective way. So we thought it would be a good idea to hear from people who arent really RCRA experts or stakeholders, but whove been thinking about waste-related issues from very different, outside perspectives. About two years ago we convened a roundtable meeting with twelve outside people that we thought might fill this bill and who had some credibility in their respective fields. They came from academia, industry, public interest groups, and government. --Reid Lifset, Bob Socolow, Emily Matthews, Brad Allenby, Earl Beavers We actually got a lot out of the meetingall in all it was a pretty impressive group.

    3. Background Draft white paper developed by workgroup Forecast of trends, challenges that could shape a future RCRA program Suggests possible new directions, goals and tools for RCRA (or its successor) Blank slate approach - not constrained by current statute, program operations Paper intended to stimulate dialogue on RCRA future The next step was to start putting in writing some of the ideas we got from the roundtable, and some of our own, so that people can see what were talking about and have something to react to. The paper tries to forecast some of the trends and developments that we think may shape the future of the RCRA program. It also offers some ideas as to some of the directions that the program might take in light of those future trends. It also suggests some tools that might be used to make those changes This is very much a blank slate exercise - we didnt want to confine ourselves to just fixing the current program as we know it.The next step was to start putting in writing some of the ideas we got from the roundtable, and some of our own, so that people can see what were talking about and have something to react to. The paper tries to forecast some of the trends and developments that we think may shape the future of the RCRA program. It also offers some ideas as to some of the directions that the program might take in light of those future trends. It also suggests some tools that might be used to make those changes This is very much a blank slate exercise - we didnt want to confine ourselves to just fixing the current program as we know it.

    4. RCRA Vision White Paper Discusses key trends that may influence future waste program: Resources Health and Risk Industry Information Globalization Society and Government The paper groups some key trends and developments into six categories. Ill say just a few quick things about each of these.The paper groups some key trends and developments into six categories. Ill say just a few quick things about each of these.

    5. RCRA Vision Resources Growing population, prosperity will increase pressures on basic resources New technologies may help us use resources more efficiently Sustainability to be an increasing concern: How to maintain economic growth without sacrificing the environment As global populations expands - pressures on natural resources will probably continue to increase It is possible that over the next few decades economic pressures and new technologies may result in more efficiencies in the way we use (and waste) resources like water, energy, minerals, fibers and others. But as the population continues to grow and the global economy creates more prosperity in different parts of the world, its likely that well need more and more of the basic resources that we extract, use and throw away. All of these activities have environmental consequences. It boils down to the very big issue of sustainability - how to sustain economic growth without degrading the environment. This isnt just a waste issue, but what resources are wasted, and how, is a big part of the picture.As global populations expands - pressures on natural resources will probably continue to increase It is possible that over the next few decades economic pressures and new technologies may result in more efficiencies in the way we use (and waste) resources like water, energy, minerals, fibers and others. But as the population continues to grow and the global economy creates more prosperity in different parts of the world, its likely that well need more and more of the basic resources that we extract, use and throw away. All of these activities have environmental consequences. It boils down to the very big issue of sustainability - how to sustain economic growth without degrading the environment. This isnt just a waste issue, but what resources are wasted, and how, is a big part of the picture.

    6. RCRA Vision Health and Risk Future will see many new chemicals (many from biotechnology), new risks Much better understanding of health, ecological effects from chemical exposures Better tools for measuring risk More knowledge of health effects may increase public demands for reducing chemical exposures

    7. RCRA Vision Industry Will produce new products, new wastes from new industrial sectors Will be more efficient, less wasteful Industrial Ecology framework: instead of devising methods of waste treatment and disposal, look for opportunities to reduce waste throughout the total material lifecycle Wastes (industrial and household) will still be with us in 2020 American industry will certainly change a lot over the next couple of decades. New products will mean new wastes (computers are a good example right now), some from industries that we havent imagined yet. Hopefully, new technologies will enable industry to use and reuse materials more efficiently, and thus, waste less. The term industrial ecology is used a lot in discussions about this issue. IE focuses on the role of industry in reducing the environmental burdens throughout the product life cycle - from raw material to production of good - to use - and to disposal. IE systematically examines the uses and flow of materials and energy in products, processes, industrial sectors and economics. It promotes the idea that industry can and should use and reuse materials in much the same way that nature does. A number of companies have already adopted this idea Unfortunately, industry isnt as efficient as nature in using resources, so it seems prudent to assume that twenty years from now there will still be industrial wastes that will need to be managed wisely. Its also possible that new technologies (like chemical markers and sensors) will allow us to track waste generation, movement and disposal much more closely than we can now.American industry will certainly change a lot over the next couple of decades. New products will mean new wastes (computers are a good example right now), some from industries that we havent imagined yet. Hopefully, new technologies will enable industry to use and reuse materials more efficiently, and thus, waste less. The term industrial ecology is used a lot in discussions about this issue. IE focuses on the role of industry in reducing the environmental burdens throughout the product life cycle - from raw material to production of good - to use - and to disposal. IE systematically examines the uses and flow of materials and energy in products, processes, industrial sectors and economics. It promotes the idea that industry can and should use and reuse materials in much the same way that nature does. A number of companies have already adopted this idea Unfortunately, industry isnt as efficient as nature in using resources, so it seems prudent to assume that twenty years from now there will still be industrial wastes that will need to be managed wisely. Its also possible that new technologies (like chemical markers and sensors) will allow us to track waste generation, movement and disposal much more closely than we can now.

    8. RCRA Vision Information Continued advances in information/ communications likely to have positive environmental effects Public may become more aware of and more involved with environmental issues Could change the way government programs are implemented The information revolution will certainly continue in the next few decades, which will no doubt have a big effect on how wastes and materials are managed. While these advancements could well have negative environmental consequences (some of these are already showing up), we should see a lot of positive effects as well. For example, more information and better access to it could result in greater public awareness of environmental issues, which would be a good thing. - TRIThe information revolution will certainly continue in the next few decades, which will no doubt have a big effect on how wastes and materials are managed. While these advancements could well have negative environmental consequences (some of these are already showing up), we should see a lot of positive effects as well. For example, more information and better access to it could result in greater public awareness of environmental issues, which would be a good thing. - TRI

    9. RCRA Vision Globalization Economic globalization trend will continue, as will debate over environmental effects Industry (and wastes) likely to become more geographically dispersed Freer flows of materials and pollutants throughout the world will require more international approaches to environmental protection Its pretty clear that the global economy will become more integrated over the next twenty years. Globalized system will have an important effect on waste and material management Industries (and the wastes they produce) will probably become more geographically dispersed, which could have both good and bad impacts on the environment in this country. The main point here, though, is that we will need to develop more international approaches to maintaining environmental protections on waste management in the future.Its pretty clear that the global economy will become more integrated over the next twenty years. Globalized system will have an important effect on waste and material management Industries (and the wastes they produce) will probably become more geographically dispersed, which could have both good and bad impacts on the environment in this country. The main point here, though, is that we will need to develop more international approaches to maintaining environmental protections on waste management in the future.

    10. RCRA Vision Society and Government New technologies may strengthen links between public, Government agencies Environmental decisions may become more participatory More empowered public may demand a chemically clean environment as a basic human right

    11. RCRA Vision White Paper Suggests three broad goals for a future RCRA program: Greater emphasis on resource conservation More comprehensive (i.e., life-cycle) approach to managing chemical risks Performance-based system for managing wastes RCRA = system of controls over waste management - with a mandate to protect human health and the environment and conserve resources. EPA and the States given tools to regulate waste and to enforce. Vision paper suggests how fundamental goals of RCRA could be reworked and broadened. RCRA = system of controls over waste management - with a mandate to protect human health and the environment and conserve resources. EPA and the States given tools to regulate waste and to enforce. Vision paper suggests how fundamental goals of RCRA could be reworked and broadened.

    12. RCRA Vision Goal: Reduce waste and increase the efficient and sustainable use of resources Resource conservation has been a secondary objective of RCRA More efficient use/reuse of materials could be key to a more sustainable economic system Possible solution: Move toward a broader materials management program, away from current waste only focus 2 SLIDES One of the original goals of RCRA was resource conservation, but frankly we havent been very successful in pushing this part of the program, since weve put most of our effort into regulating waste management. In the future well need to do better. Well need to waste fewer resources if were going to achieve a sustainable economic system. So well need to reemphasize this goal, and well probably need some new tools (in addition to the kinds of regulatory tools that we have now) to do the job. Minimizing waste generation (both industrial and consumer), increasing recycling rates and generally being more efficient in the way we use resources would probably require using economic carrots and other tools, instead of relying only on the regulatory sticks that we have now. 2 SLIDES One of the original goals of RCRA was resource conservation, but frankly we havent been very successful in pushing this part of the program, since weve put most of our effort into regulating waste management. In the future well need to do better. Well need to waste fewer resources if were going to achieve a sustainable economic system. So well need to reemphasize this goal, and well probably need some new tools (in addition to the kinds of regulatory tools that we have now) to do the job. Minimizing waste generation (both industrial and consumer), increasing recycling rates and generally being more efficient in the way we use resources would probably require using economic carrots and other tools, instead of relying only on the regulatory sticks that we have now.

    13. RCRA Vision Goal: Reduce waste and increase the efficient and sustainable use of resources (contd) May need to revisit cradle-to-grave approach to regulating waste management Consistent with industrial ecology framework Possible Tools: More reliance on economic incentives Public education on sustainability issues More reliance on environmental management systems Product stewardship Removing most of the distinctions between waste and materials while still protecting the environment would probably require expanding the scope of the system to address risks from materials in general.. Under this kind of materials management system wastes might only be materials that are clearly destined for disposal (however that might be determined). You could think of this as a retirement-to-grave system, - OR STILL BETTER AND CRADLE-TO-CRADLE SYSTEM - rather than the cradle-to-grave program we now have in the RCRA hazardous waste program. Economic incentives: waste generation fees, surcharges on consumption of certain resources; rebates to reward resource efficiency Removing most of the distinctions between waste and materials while still protecting the environment would probably require expanding the scope of the system to address risks from materials in general.. Under this kind of materials management system wastes might only be materials that are clearly destined for disposal (however that might be determined). You could think of this as a retirement-to-grave system, - OR STILL BETTER AND CRADLE-TO-CRADLE SYSTEM - rather than the cradle-to-grave program we now have in the RCRA hazardous waste program. Economic incentives: waste generation fees, surcharges on consumption of certain resources; rebates to reward resource efficiency

    14. RCRA Vision Goal: Comprehensive, life-cycle approach to managing chemical risks Broader materials management system could address risks from chemicals while they are produced and used, not just after they become wastes Could involve combining functions of RCRA, TSCA, possibly other programs Traditional regulatory system (e.g., RCRA Subtitle C) wouldnt be workable Second goal - broader materials management system would need to control chemical risks throughout a chemicals life-cyclewell before they would ever be considered wastes. Just how we would do that is a good question. In practical terms, this would probably mean meshing together in some way the RCRA and TSCA programs, into something broader in scope. Its pretty clear, though, that the kind of regulatory system that we now have for RCRA wouldnt work very well for this. Wed probably have to rely much more on non-regulatory incentives, new technologies and a better informed public to make such a system work. Second goal - broader materials management system would need to control chemical risks throughout a chemicals life-cyclewell before they would ever be considered wastes. Just how we would do that is a good question. In practical terms, this would probably mean meshing together in some way the RCRA and TSCA programs, into something broader in scope. Its pretty clear, though, that the kind of regulatory system that we now have for RCRA wouldnt work very well for this. Wed probably have to rely much more on non-regulatory incentives, new technologies and a better informed public to make such a system work.

    15. RCRA Vision Goal: Comprehensive, life cycle approach to managing chemical risks (contd) Possible Tools: Public information on risks (e.g., labels) Economic and liability incentives Performance-based regulatory system May require new tools and strategies, and a better informed public Educating the public to, in effect, manage their own risks would be quite a challenge. One of the ideas that we might pursue is some kind of labeling of chemical risks, analogous to the nutritional labels on food that have made people much more educated about their dietary choices. Economic incentives: making more costly for mfg to use certain chemicals Performance- based regulatory system: some regulatory controls would be needed - e.g., siting of facilities, transportation; limits on hazardous chemical content in products - need to be less complex - more performance oriented. May require new tools and strategies, and a better informed public Educating the public to, in effect, manage their own risks would be quite a challenge. One of the ideas that we might pursue is some kind of labeling of chemical risks, analogous to the nutritional labels on food that have made people much more educated about their dietary choices. Economic incentives: making more costly for mfg to use certain chemicals Performance- based regulatory system: some regulatory controls would be needed - e.g., siting of facilities, transportation; limits on hazardous chemical content in products - need to be less complex - more performance oriented.

    16. RCRA Vision Goal: Manage waste and clean up chemical releases in a safe, environmentally sound manner -- Safe management of high-risk waste will still be an issue Will still need to clean up new releases, remaining historically contaminated sites Future program could/should be less complex, more performance-based Third goal - manage waste and chemical clean-ups in a safe manner As I said before, twenty years from now its likely that well still have to worry about getting rid of toxic industrial wastes, so an essential component of a more comprehensive materials management system would still have to include controls on waste management and disposal. (Ideally - waste used and reused in a continuous cycle) So the future well probably still need a waste regulatory system thats at least analogous to RCRA Subtitle C. The challenge here would be to create a less complex, more performance-based regulatory approach than we have today. This is easy to say, of course. Third goal - manage waste and chemical clean-ups in a safe manner As I said before, twenty years from now its likely that well still have to worry about getting rid of toxic industrial wastes, so an essential component of a more comprehensive materials management system would still have to include controls on waste management and disposal. (Ideally - waste used and reused in a continuous cycle) So the future well probably still need a waste regulatory system thats at least analogous to RCRA Subtitle C. The challenge here would be to create a less complex, more performance-based regulatory approach than we have today. This is easy to say, of course.

    17. RCRA Vision Goal: Manage waste and clean up chemical releases in a safe, environmentally sound manner (contd) Hopefully, in the future we may have new tools to work with that would help bring this about. Such as streamlined, performance-based regulatory system, economic incentives (surcharge on generation or disposal to encourage waste minimization; tax credits), informational tools, or new technologies. Hopefully, in the future we may have new tools to work with that would help bring this about. Such as streamlined, performance-based regulatory system, economic incentives (surcharge on generation or disposal to encourage waste minimization; tax credits), informational tools, or new technologies.

    18. RCRA Vision Conclusions Sustainability is a real issue, and RCRA can be part of the solution Need to look at chemical risks more broadly, not just focus on waste Need to build on elements of the current program that are working well Its time to start thinking about how A lot of people (including the UN/OECD/WBCSD, for example) are already sounding the alarm bells about achieving a more sustainable economic system that doesnt degrade the environment. This is obviously a much bigger issue than RCRA - it has a lot to do with land use, consumer choice and other factors. But RCRA can play an important part in this effort, if we do it right. Weve been pretty narrowly focused here in the RCRA world on risks from wastes. I think we need to look at the question of chemical risks more broadly, though. Getting away from our waste focus and making a more comprehensive materials management system work would be a really big challenge, but we think its an idea well worth talking about. A lot of people (including the UN/OECD/WBCSD, for example) are already sounding the alarm bells about achieving a more sustainable economic system that doesnt degrade the environment. This is obviously a much bigger issue than RCRA - it has a lot to do with land use, consumer choice and other factors. But RCRA can play an important part in this effort, if we do it right. Weve been pretty narrowly focused here in the RCRA world on risks from wastes. I think we need to look at the question of chemical risks more broadly, though. Getting away from our waste focus and making a more comprehensive materials management system work would be a really big challenge, but we think its an idea well worth talking about.

    19. Impact of Vision to Date Administrators Innovation Strategy OSWER AAs New RCC Initiatives OSW Strategic Plan (5 year) ORD Research Agenda SAB Commentary on IE National LCI Project NAS/WRI Material Flows Analysis EPA Futures Network RCRA Vision

    20. RCRA Vision Next Steps RCRA Vision endorsed by OSWERs AA, ASTSWMO and ECOS Visions and concepts integral part of RCC Strategies and Initiatives (product stewardship, effective intervention early in life cycle; building partnerships, helping government reduce, reuse and recycle, beneficial reuse) Identify tactical opportunities to push Vision goals forward- short term and long term Continue dialogue Identify how to keep the discussion going - important document; hope that you feel the same way and will be able to use in your programs Development of the Vision paper was a joint effort by EPA-State and tribal environmental agencies things that can be incorporated in long term -i.e. different approach to managing waste - and short term - i.e. start to move current programs in direction of goals outlined in the Vision paper look for tactical opportunities - OSW/EPA/States/Industry Identify how to keep the discussion going - important document; hope that you feel the same way and will be able to use in your programs Development of the Vision paper was a joint effort by EPA-State and tribal environmental agencies things that can be incorporated in long term -i.e. different approach to managing waste - and short term - i.e. start to move current programs in direction of goals outlined in the Vision paper look for tactical opportunities - OSW/EPA/States/Industry

    21. RCRA Vision Looking into the future is a fools occupation - but it is the bigger fool who dares not to Voltaire Encourage you all to read the paper - web site: www.epa.gov/osw - first item under key topics - Beyond RCRA Encourage you all to read the paper - web site: www.epa.gov/osw - first item under key topics - Beyond RCRA