The 2020 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention (MVP2) awards presented by the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) celebrate the successes of innovators in the areas of pollution prevention and sustainability.
Mark S. Rossi, PhD, was one of the first employees of the pioneering Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute, where he authored studies and policy recommendations that helped shape the way pollution prevention has been pursued in the United States. His achievements since leaving TURI are considerable. He is one of the creators of the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP), getting manufacturers and retailers to benchmark their progress in chemicals management performance, focusing on reducing potentially hazardous chemicals. The CFP is now used by investors as well as companies. He is the founder of BizNGO, a collaborative of businesses, NGOs, and governments working on safer chemicals and sustainable materials. In addition to popularizing the idea of collaboration for these purposes, BizNGO has given the world such products as the Chemical Alternatives Assessment Protocol and the Plastics Scorecard. Mark may however become best known for his work as co-creator of the GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals, an easy-to-use tool for comparing chemicals for their environmental health and safety, which is now used worldwide by both governments and businesses to identify safer alternatives. https://www.greenscreenchemicals.org/learn/full-greenscreen-method. Customers and investors can now know who is using the screen properly because Mark has led the creation of a product certification program, GreenScreen Certified™.
When Richard Liroff retired from the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN), (a “collaborative of investors that promotes safer chemicals in corporations with the goals of enhancing the health of people and planet, as well as shareholder value”), Mark led its incorporation into Clean Production Action (CPA) so that its valuable work would continue. Mark is currently Executive Director of CPA, an organization that sees its role as translating “the systems-based vision of clean production into the tools and strategies NGOs, governments and businesses need to advance green chemicals, sustainable materials and environmentally preferable products. Critical to CPA’s success is working closely with existing networks across the globe, developing new partnerships, learning about emerging technological trends and associated environmental health problems, and developing and communicating essential solutions. It is this combination of collaboration, empowerment and advocacy for a clearly defined vision that is key to achieving the fundamental transformations necessary in our economy.” His nominator notes that “Mark’s remarkably positive personality and strong vision are infectious. He projects confidence in the idea that we can do this – we can stop poisoning ourselves. It’s entirely doable”.
Rob Reuter, WA State Dept of Ecology
According to his colleagues, Rob Reuter has been a key factor in the effectiveness of the Washington State Pollution Prevention and Toxics Reduction Program, which has saved businesses – according to their own estimation – $56 million and hundreds of thousands of pounds of hazardous waste. As lead engineer Rob helped create the program infrastructure while also leading key projects, such as:
Rob has led a large number of pollution prevention projects over 29 years while also supporting mid-level and junior-level staff on their own projects. According to colleagues, “Rob has established a life-long career dedicated to advancing pollution prevention practices in the state of Washington. Due to the service he provides, and the leadership he has exhibited over the years, Washington State is seen as a leader in source reduction, pollution prevention and toxics reduction nation-wide. His commitment to the program and mentorship to the next generation of toxic reduction staff is a legacy worth celebrating with this P2 Champion award.”
Rob Reuter with the Washington State Department of Ecology Hazardous Waste and Toxic Reduction team, several of whom joined in nominating Rob (in the red shirt in the back row).
Brandon and Jennifer Sizemore of Founder’s Choice
Value Stream map produced as first step in Lean and Green Project at Founder’s Choice
Founder’s Choice is a family owned company located in Tacoma, Washington, that manufactures a variety of custom kitchen and bath cabinetry and decorative and functional accessories. Seeking improvement, the company requested help from the state’s Lean and Green program, a service of the Washington State Department of Ecology and Impact Washington, recommended by the Tacoma Pierce Economic Development Board and Tacoma Economic Development Services). The program combines continuous improvement and environmental methods to reduce operating costs and environmental & energy impacts. This leads to increased productivity and overall business competitiveness. In addition to improving recycling and reuse, other recommended measures such as efficient lighting, improved air compressor operation, training and equipment changes were delivered. This led to significant projected results in material use and waste reduction whilst improving product quality. Overall, the program delivered a projected operational cost savings of $112,000, 20% reduction in VOC air emissions, hazardous waste reduction of 7,000 lbs and significant benefits in energy efficiency to the facility. By employing a lean and green approach, the company adopted a comprehensive strategy for manufacturing – as opposed to looking at waste, wastewater or energy. This enabled the development of improvement opportunities that would deliver reduced waste, air emissions, and energy use, as well as improving shop safety.
The success of combining lean and green is significant as environmental waste and cost reductions alone do not motivate every company, but many more are attracted to the idea of reducing time to shipment, improving product quality, and productivity. Though the Lean and Green idea makes sense, it cannot succeed without the commitment of companies like Founder’s Choice and the implementation of staff like Brandon & Jennifer Sizemore (Facility Managers) and the entire Founders Choice Cabinet production team, whose work has provided this demonstration of value.
Credit must also go to the WA State Department of Ecology (Ifeanyi Isigwe, Hugh O’Neil, Robert Reuter, Dan Ferguson, Huckleberry Palmer and Justin Meyer); Impact Washington (Geoff Lawrence and Patrick Ryan); and the Tacoma Pierce Economic Development Board (Maddie Merton) and Tacoma Economic Development Services (Gloria Fletcher).
Mike Smothers of USNR
Chemical Hazard Assessment performed by USNR
Paint Category Assessment Results from Ecology
USNR of Woodland, WA, supplies equipment and technologies for the wood processing industry, such as sawmills and planer mills, trim-sort-stack systems, and dry kilns. Their pollution prevention effort identified an anti-spatter component of the welding process that utilized methylene chloride and resulted in replacement with a safer anti-spatter product. Following that, USNR transitioned from solvent-based paints to water-based paints, which eliminated 4,000 lbs. of annual use of solvent-based product.
With technical assistance from Washington’s Toxics Reduction Program, USNR used the Quick Chemical Assessment Tool (QCAT) results from Ecology to compare substitution possibilities and then tested alternatives to assess their performance. The solvent-based paint used by the company contained five chemicals of “high concern”, such as reproductive toxicity and endocrine activity, while the new water-based substitutes had no chemicals of high concern. The original paints had 63% volatile organic chemical (VOC) content, while the new water-based product has 15%, resulting in an overall reduction of VOC emissions of 48%. Savings in reduced waste cost came to $2000 per year.
Operations Manager Mike Smothers led the gathering of data from vendor and the testing of paint formulations, and Dr. Ifeanyi Isigwe of the WA Department of Ecology’s Toxics Reduction team led the assessment of chemical hazards.
Student of the Year
The Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience matches students with businesses to work on real-world sustainability projects. (https://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/OASE). Katherine Gwynn was sent to the Tofurkey company, a B-corporation that produces plant-based substitutes for meat. For the company, she gathered data on the areas of manufacturing that represented the greatest contribution to carbon emissions and water waste. According to Chris Dennett, Director of Strategy and Integration, Katherine presented the data and evidence “in clear and concrete terms to our company leadership, who want to reduce our environmental impact.” She “built the case for action by showing our management team opportunities to reduce our environmental impact with cost efficient solutions.” Dennett reports that Gwynn was “extremely prepared, well-articulated and had a complete understanding of the environmental problems we wanted to address. She is humble and capable…inquisitive, methodical, observant, a listener.” Gwynn provided a baseline analysis of utilities and water along with recommendations on how to reduce emissions and waste that Dennett comments is saving the company “a lot of time and resources…we have a plan full of prioritized strategies that will allow us to pursue the quick pollution reduction wins today”. In addition, her recommendations have provided the company with “a roadmap of continuous pollution reduction over the next several years. Katherine has allowed Tofurky to truly walk the talk of pollution prevention vision and strategies.” Hard numbers were not yet available but preliminary analysis “indicates significant savings”.
Saskia van Bergen
Saskia is a leader in the field of K-12 green chemistry education and pollution prevention training. Over the past several years, Saskia has developed educational curricula designed to create interactive educational instruction related to chemistry in partnership with educators.
Saskia has collaborated with the University of Washington and other green chemistry leaders to deliver the Green Chemistry & Chemical Stewardship Certificate Program. In this program, students focus on systems thinking around green chemistry, business, environmental health, chemical alternative assessment tools, and social and environmental justice. Saskia has also been active with the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) and led the Advancing Green Chemistry Education Group. She worked with the GC3 to develop a national policy advocating for business lead green chemistry education and to hire more green chemists into the workforce.
Saskia is an advisor to Beyond Benign's Green Chemistry Commitment, including recruiting several universities to join in WA state. The Green Chemistry Commitment facilitates a growing number of college and university chemistry departments prepare world-class chemists whose skills are aligned with the needs of the planet and its inhabitants in the 21st century.
Saskia also co-led a national effort to support the use of safe disinfectants in response to the pandemic. This effort included information related to safer alternatives, including EPA's Safer Choice program. https://osha.washington.edu/sites/default/files/documents/FactSheet_Cleaning_Final_UWDEOHS_0.pdf
In response to the pandemic Saskia also quickly pulled together curricula for teachers to use in online instruction. Her nominator calls Saskia “a national treasure, leader and educator in the field of green chemistry. She has done an amazing job in building capacity and skills for the next generation of chemists and scientists for advancing the development of safer products. Saskia is a natural collaborator and very effective in connecting people together in a positive way. Saskia has a natural entrepreneurial spirit and an eye towards positive outcomes.”
Tom, Executive Director of the nonprofit Virginia Green Travel Alliance (VGTA), has led the effort to reduce the environmental impacts of Virginia’s tourism industry for over a decade. In 2007, a partnership between the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia DEQ, and the Virginia Restaurant Lodging & Travel Association launched Virginia Green, (https://www.virginiagreen.net/), a voluntary program to encourage green practices in tourism. Tom has been is a consistent champion of the Virginia Green program, working with hundreds of members to certify or re-certify membership, helping Virginia’s tourism industry to excellence in environmental performance. In the early days he helped lodging facilities to adopt optional linen service policies. As that caught on, Tom moved to avoiding polystyrene and reducing single-use plastics (before single-use plastics was a household term). He brought composting to the 2015 Road World Cycling Championships in Richmond, an event with 645,000 on-site spectators, when many thought it would not be feasible. He’s created a green volunteer network to help staff events to implement green practices.
Tom started Virginia Green’s annual conference in 2013 and has grown the event ever year since. The event provides learning and networking opportunities for those interested in green tourism. The conference has provided education on energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, reduction of single-use plastics and more. When the 2020 Virginia Green conference moved to a virtual platform, instead of reducing the educational content provided by the multiday event, Tom offered six weeks of workshops following five hours of general sessions, to ensure all the education opportunities were available.
Tom’s goals have been to increase awareness within the industry and for customers, reduce environmental impacts, improve profitability for participants and make Virginia a green tourism destination. Tom is a valuable resource to all Virginia tourism facilities looking to green their operations. Because he has gone far beyond the expectations of his role and has given so freely of his time, energy and knowledge, Tom has earned this recognition as P2 Volunteer of the Year.
Honorable Mention – P2 Projects
Sheriff Peter Koutoujian & Regina Faticanti, Compliance and Sustainability Manager, Sheriff’s Office House of Correction and Jail
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office House of Correction and Jail in Billerica, MA houses an average of 815 inmates and employs over 600 staff. Sustainability initiatives have increased in number and scope over the last 10 years. These efforts are not seen as individual projects but rather as an overall effort to build sustainability into operations and mission. Of particular note are waste prevention efforts and results which include reducing the amount of generated waste, reusing and re-purposing materials and supplies, recycling, and purchasing more environmentally preferred products.
Recycling and waste reduction programs have been tailored for the kitchen, administrative offices, the mailroom, and inmate cells, reducing waste by 74 tons from 2017- 2018, nearly doubling the average recycling rate to 11.08%. Reduction or recycling has addressed plastic, bubble wrap, cardboard, newspapers and magazines. Smaller trays and cups are used, reducing solid and liquid food waste. Styrofoam has been eliminated. The Office repurposes 3rd party donations of new, unused clothing and used bedding and towels from sources such as hotels. Inmates work to help sort, store and transport the goods that would otherwise have been trashed, and now go to recipients such as homeless and battered women shelters. A green cleaning program provides training for inmates that has become a pathway for jobs after release. Energy efficient lighting and motion sensors have been installed.
Smithfield Foods of Junction City, Kansas retained Enviro-Stewards Inc. to identify and measure food loss and waste prevention opportunities. Implemented measures have reduced the amount of food lost by 1/3 since the 2018 baseline. During 2019, these measures saved 784,640 pounds of food, valued at $500,000/year with a payback of under two months, including $78,000 a year in avoided waste disposal costs. Enviro-Stewards produced estimates of embedded Greenhouse Gas and water footprint in order to measure progress, calculating that the company is saving 1,960 tons per year of embedded GHG and reducing its water footprint by 565 million gallons per year. The increase in product yield is with no additional input of fuel, fertilizer, or herbicides and a reduction of associated GHG emissions in the supply chain of 1,960 tons per year. The project used Enviro-Stewards’ streamlined project approach designed to identify practical viable measures while building buy-in throughout the process. A potential solution was trialed with facility staff during the assessment process itself. And facility staff have taken it upon themselves to challenge each other with a food loss prevention competition amongst production lines.
Smithfield is looking into expanding the program to multiple sites, and has submitted a case study to the World Resources Institute’s Champions 12.3 coalition (https://www.wri.org/our-work/project/champions-123), which supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to reduce food waste worldwide. The nominator notes: “One third of food on earth is presently wasted. As 1/9th of people are food insecure, collectively we are wasting 3 times more food than it would take to feed everyone on the planet. Even so, we are burning down the Amazon and converting other ecosystems to farmland (with associated biodiversity implications) to make up for food we are losing. If food loss were a country, it would be the 3rd largest GHG emitter on the planet (after USA and China) and the second largest water consumer (second only to water used to produce food that is actually eaten). Although the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that food loss costs the global economy $940 billion/year, most food loss prevention initiatives ignore food loss to animals and bioprocessing. Implemented savings from this successful beta test project demonstrate that reducing food loss to these destinations is economically attractive and environmentally & socially beneficial. For perspective, the 784,640 pounds of food saved during 2019 would fill a continuous line of grocery bags 3½ miles long every year! It would also be enough to feed the equivalent of 1,000 people every meal for a year.”
Morgan Advanced Ceramics
Morgan, a maker of advanced technical ceramic components in New Bedford, MA, had been using trichloroethylene for several tasks, including wax removal after ceramic grinding. The facility used a vapor degreaser equipped with an ultrasonic tank for cleaning. The company engaged in extensive planning and testing to come up with a substitute process for removing the wax, settling on a Borax mixture and spending more than $100,000 for new equipment. The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute provided a grant of $30,000 to help. The company has eliminated use of 3,300 lbs. of TCE per year and the waste stream from spent TCE along with it, and plans to implement the change at other Morgan facilities.
Honorable Mention – P2 Volunteer
Laurie has been a volunteer member of the Colorado Pollution Prevention Advisory Board (PPAB) for nearly three years. Over that time, she has helped the Board establish a clear vision and set areas of focus. This year, however, Laurie went above and beyond to volunteer to work with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment staff to plan and facilitate a strategic planning session for the PPAB's Assistance Committee. Laurie led the facilitation and continues to volunteer her time to work with the committee to refine the goals/objectives into a cohesive work plan that will guide the program for the next three years.
Laurie's leadership on the PPAB has been instrumental in establishing clear PPAB areas of focus and action items that have positively contributed to the work of the Sustainability Unit at CDPHE. Her candor and practical advice help Colorado improve its green business programs and be more effective.
These organizations and individuals have clearly demonstrated that pollution prevention is beneficial to both the environment and the economy. The MVP2 Awards are awarded in seven categories. If you would like more information, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.