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A survey on plastic packaging and products recycling in U.S. hospitals was recently presented by Practice Greenhealth and Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) . It is estimated by Practice Greenhealth that US healthcare facilities generate approximate 3,000 tons of plastic packages and plastic product a year. This waste stream is disposed of in landfills or incinerated. Both organizations set out to establish a baseline of currently plastics recycling activities and sent surveys to health care professionals throughout the US.
Insight from the survey concluded that implantation and operation of a successful health care plastics recycling program is highly involve and takes great effort. The survey highlights points to be taken into consideration with starting a recycling plastics programs in a clinical setting: (1) Engage and, (2) target areas with the highest potential volume of recycled plastics, (3) do not underestimate the significant increase that can be accomplished in existing recycling programs, (4) allot adequate physical space for recycling, and (5) partner with waste management or recycling companies.
2015 Proposal to Address the Management of Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals
The EPA is in the process of developing continued efforts based on December 2008 proposal to add hazardous waste pharmaceuticals to the Universal Waste Program. Due to several concerns the December 2008 rule was not finalized. Therefore, the EPA developed another proposal for new standards for the management and disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are generated by healthcare-related facilities. The new rule is taking concerns raised from 2008 into consideration such as notification and tracking issues. This new proposed rulemaking is currently in the hands of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with the 90-review ending June 17th, 2015.
2015 Definitions of Solid Waste (DSW) Final Rule
The EPA finalized a modification to the EPA’s 2008 Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) rule to ensure protection to human health and the environment from the mismanagement of hazardous secondary materials intended for recycling, while promoting sustainability through the encouragement of safe and environmentally responsible recycling of such materials.
This new provision requires that all hazardous materials recyclers operating under this provision have RCRA permits that address the materials, or obtain a variance prior to operating under the exclusion. A few summary items for the new Rule and as indicated in the EPA Fact Sheet (http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/dsw/dsw_fs_fnl_rl_120814.pdf) are as follows:
Requires that all entities subject to the new exclusions - both generators and recyclers - meet emergency response and preparedness requirements. This includes requiring facilities to make arrangements with local emergency response officials, which provides local fire departments and hospitals with critical information to enable them to tailor their preparations and response, thereby reducing risk to communities.
Includes a public participation requirement for recyclers seeking a verified recycler variance, so that communities are notified prior to recycling operations beginning and have a chance to weigh in on the environmental decisions that affect them.
Requires facilities seeking a verified recycler variance to address whether their activities pose a risk to nearby communities and whether their activities add to the cumulative environmental impacts.
For generators, the conditions of the exclusion include: (1) notifying the authorized state or EPA; (2) ensuring that hazardous secondary materials are contained; (3) maintaining records of shipments and confirmations of receipt for transfers of hazardous secondary materials off-site; and (4) compliance with emergency preparedness requirements, which would be tailored according to the amount of hazardous secondary materials accumulated on-site. (These are similar to emergency preparedness requirements for hazardous waste generators.) The prohibition of sham recycling would also apply. Additionally, generators would no longer have to conduct an environmental audit of the recycler (since the recycler will have been verified by the state or EPA).
Electronic Waste Recycling
In an effort to divert thousands of pounds of waste to landfills and keep toxins from contaminating the environment, the NYSDEC has enacted a law effective January 1, 2015 that does not allow consumers in New York to dispose of certain types of electronic equipment in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities, in the trash, or at curbside for trash pickup. A "Consumer" is an individual, business, corporation, limited partnership, not-for-profit corporation, the state, a public corporation, public school, school district, private or parochial school or board of cooperative educational services or governmental entity located in New York State. Any entity involved in a wholesale transaction between a distributor and retailer is not a consumer.
Consumers may use one of two ways in which to recycle electronic waste: use a manufacturer takeback program or go to an electronic waste collection center. Under the manufacturer takeback program, consumers may either (1) go the NYSDEC’s list of electronic equipment manufacturers registered in NYS, to find manufacturers, their brands electronic equipment covered by the law, and their electronic waste acceptance program websites and toll-free telephone numbers or (2) follow the specific instructions listed on the manufacturer's website or provided over the telephone. The manufacturer is required to provide information on how to recycle your equipment, free of charge.
Electronics covered by this law include such items:
Computers (including laptops, desktops, tablets and e-readers),
Cathode ray tubes,
Computer peripherals (including any cable, cord, or wiring accompanying the computer peripheral) such monitors, keyboards, mice or similar point device) , facsimile machines, document scanners, and printers (only those intended for use with a computer and weighing less than 100 lbs.)
Small electronic equipment (including any cable, cord, or wiring accompanying the computer peripheral) such as VCRs, Digital video recorders (DVRs), portable digital music players, DVD players (including projectors with DVD player capabilities intended for home-use), Digital converter boxes, Cable or satellite receivers (including digital media receivers), Electronic or video game consoles (including both handheld devices and those intended for use with a video display device)
At the end of 2014 and in response to the President’s Climate Action Plan and Executive Order The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit website (toolkit.climate.gov) was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other Federal agencies to provide scientific tools and information and assist people manage their climate related risks and opportunities. Recently, a water resources topic area was added to the toolkit.
The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit website offers (https://toolkit.climate.gov/):
Steps to Resilience—a five-step process you can follow to initiate, plan, and implement projects to become more resilient to climate-related hazards.
Taking Action stories—real-world case studies describing climate-related risks and opportunities that communities and businesses face, steps they’re taking to plan and respond, and tools and techniques they’re using to improve resilience.
A catalog of freely available Tools for accessing and analyzing climate data, generating visualizations, exploring climate projections, estimating hazards, and engaging stakeholders in resilience-building efforts.
Climate Explorer—a visualization tool that offers maps of climate stressors and impacts as well as interactive graphs showing daily observations and long-term averages from thousands of weather stations.
Topic narratives that explain how climate variability and change can impact particular regions of the country and sectors of society.
Pointers to free, federally developed training courses that can build skills for using climate tools and data.
Maps highlighting the locations of centers where federal and state agencies can provide regional climate information.
The ability to Search the entire federal government’s climate science domain and filter results according to your interests.
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