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					Beyond RCRA: Prospects for
    Waste and Materials
Management in the Year 2020
                  Presentation at
Metropolitan Washington COG – Recycling Committee
                 January 16, 2003
   Background

    – EPA-State working group formed in 1999 to
      develop long-term “vision” for a future RCRA
      program

    – Roundtable meeting convened in September
      1999 to explore future trends, directions
       • Non-RCRA stakeholders from academia, industry,
         public interest groups, local government
   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
RCRA Vision


   White Paper
    – Discusses key trends that may influence future
      waste program:
       •   Resources
       •   Health and Risk
       •   Industry
       •   Information
       •   Globalization
       •   Society and Government
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
RCRA Vision


   Goal: Reduce waste and increase the
    efficient and sustainable use of resources
    (cont’d)
    – 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
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) wouldn’t be workable
RCRA Vision



   Goal: Comprehensive, life cycle approach
    to managing chemical risks (cont’d)
    – Possible Tools:
       • Public information on risks (e.g., labels)
       • Economic and liability incentives
       • Performance-based regulatory system
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
RCRA Vision



   Goal: Manage waste and clean up chemical
    releases in a safe, environmentally sound
    manner (cont’d)
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
    – It’s time to start thinking about how
RCRA Vision

    Impact of Vision to Date
     –   Administrator’s Innovation Strategy
     –   OSWER AA’s 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

     Next Steps

      – RCRA Vision endorsed by OSWER’s AA, ASTSWMO
        and ECOS
      – Vision’s 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
RCRA Vision




   “Looking into the future is a fool’s
    occupation - but it is the bigger fool who
    dares not to”

                        Voltaire

				
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