Commerce Department Secretary Ronald H. Brown and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner have announced a cooperative pilot project to help U.S. manufacturers adopt pollution-prevention technologies and techniques.
The pilot is part of a planned multiyear program to help small and medium-sized companies select currently available technologies and techniques that can reduce or eliminate sources of pollution in their manufacturing operations. Reducing pollution sources not only helps the environment, but often saves the company money by reducing waste disposal costs. The EPA will work with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a program of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.
In announcing the program, Brown said, "Manufacturers shouldn't have to choose between being clean or competitive. With the right technology, they can save both the environment and money, improving their competitiveness both nationally and internationally. We are pleased to join with the EPA and industry to meet this challenge of bringing appropriate, cost- effective pollution control to the small manufacturer."
"By using technology that prevents pollution, manufacturers can save money and protect our environment at the same time," said EPA Administrator Browner. "EPA and the Commerce Department will work together to get the technology into the hands of the manufacturers—and everyone will benefit."
Both said they viewed the project as the start of a long- term working relationship between the Commerce Department and the EPA.
With generally limited financial and technical resources, small and mid-sized companies can be particularly vulnerable to the increased costs that can accompany more strict environmental rules. Stiffer regulations on air and water release of industrial solvents and degreasers and the disposal of solvent and degreaser wastes are scheduled to take effect in 1993 and 1994. Small businesses can benefit both environmentally and economically by adopting pollution prevention technologies to comply with these rules.
Under the agreement announced today, the EPA Office of Research and Development and NIST will begin work to enable small manufacturers to apply innovative pollution prevention tools and technologies. Field work will be done through the Great Lakes Manufacturing Technology Center in Cleveland, one of seven such centers that make up the core of the DoC/NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The pilot project will concentrate on screw machine, metal stamping and electroplating facilities. Together, these represent a major concentration of manufacturers in the Great Lakes region.
As part of the project, NIST, EPA and MTC staff will use EPA-developed techniques to conduct thorough pollution-prevention assessments of the manufacturing operations of selected representative firms. The assessments will identify the most cost-effective methods for reducing sources of pollution. These comprehensive assessments will be used to develop a simplified assessment protocol that is better suited to the needs of small and medium-sized firms in the target industries and can be applied by these firms on a broad scale.
Together with industry, project staff also will identify innovative pollution-prevention technologies for competitively reducing waste streams in typical manufacturing processes for the target industries. At least two of the most promising technologies will be selected for demonstration and evaluation in cooperating manufacturing facilities.
The project is part of the President's Environmental Technology Initiative. EPA is planning a variety of pilot projects to see how best to provide assistance to small businesses throughout the country to meet environmental compliance requirements in a cost-effective manner.
Lessons learned from this pilot effort will be transferred both directly to the manufacturers and to other technical assistance providers, including the NIST MTCs. The project also will serve as a model for similar programs targeting other industry segments.
NIST is the federal technology agency with the specific mission of helping U.S. industry strengthen its competitiveness. Through research, services, grants and outreach programs, NIST assists industry in developing, adapting and commercializing technologies which lead to greater productivity, higher quality, and new and improved products and services. NIST is an agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration.