Fewer On-Site Hazwaste Incinerators Reported Than EPA Records Suggest

Minneapolis - Only 99 private manufacturing facilities nationwide have hazardous waste incinerators on site, according to a report by Environmental Information Ltd. (EI), Minneapolis.

"From a policy perspective, these findings are very significant," said Cary Perket, president of EI. "Since previous estimates of the emissions from hazardous waste incinerators were largely extrapolated from the number of facilities, the survey's findings suggest that there are less emissions than previously estimated. They also suggest that the total on-site incineration capacity available to generators is less than was previously believed."

According to the EI report, previous reports may have overcounted the number of private-sector production plants with operational incinerators.

Unlike commercial hazardous waste incinerators, on-site incinerators burn only internally generated waste. Some on-site units are "captive" incinerators that burn waste from more than one company-owned facility.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that 152 public and private facilities have on-site or captive hazardous waste incinerator permits in the U.S. According to EI, 25 of the 152 facilities were military bases, DOE laboratories, universities and other public facilities, while 127 facilities with on-site incinerator permits belonged to private industry.

However, while the Environmental Protection Agency's regional permit administrators can accurately count facilities with hazardous waste permits, they often do not track facilities with operational incinerators. Since RCRA Part B permits are valid for five years, facilities can stop burning hazardous waste and retain their Part Bs for years - and, in some cases, even beyond the renewal dates - which increases the likelihood of overcounting.

The Environmental Information survey focused on the 127 permit-owning facilities belonging to private industry. EI's research pared the 127-facility list down to 99 facilities with active incinerators.

Of the 28 private facilities that Environmental Information removed from the original list, four stopped using their incinerators during the 1980s; eight own units that have been idled or dismantled within the past three years. Other facilities removed from the list have allowed their permits to expire and now burn hazardous waste under other regulatory provisions, or have converted to burning only non-hazardous waste. In a few instances, the permits were for incinerators that have not yet been built.

For more further information, contact: Jon Hanke, Environmental Information Ltd., 4801 West 81st Street, Suite 119, Minneapolis, Minn. 55437. (612) 831-2473.

Washington, D.C. - The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), the self-described political arm of the environmental movement, has given President Clinton a middling grade of "C-plus" overall for "not working up to potential" during his first year in office.

In particular, the League criticized the Clinton Administration for failing to halt Waste Technologies Industries' controversial hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio.

While LCV noted that Clinton had indicated support for a moratorium on the construction of new solid and hazardous waste incinerators during his election campaign - a legislative goal of several environmental groups - the report itself remains silent on the issue.

In addition to the overall C-plus grade, the League gave Clinton an "A" for his appointments, a "B" for policy initiatives, a "C-minus" for delivery and a "D-plus" for budget. The grades represent a consensus of more than 200 leading environmentalists surveyed for the report, said the League.

"President Clinton has yet to invest adequate political capital on behalf of the environment," commented LCV political director Betsey Loyless. "He has appointed the right people and said great things, but he has not yet budgeted the money needed or followed through convincingly."

Among appointments praised by the League were those of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt (who recently served as LCV president), Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner. The report notes, however, that Clinton "got his EPA team off to a slow start because of difficulties in filling other key appointments at the agency. A strong staff was finally in place by October 1993."

Concerning the President's lowest grade for budget, the report comments: "Across the board, the President has not matched his environmental rhetoric with the financial commitments required. When politically active environmentalists, who helped him win the election, look at where he has placed his resources, we're very disappointed."

NAPCOR Opposes Plastics Coding Changes

Charlotte, N.C. - After careful review and consideration, the National Association for Plastic Container Recovery (NAPCOR) has released a public statement opposing the proposed changes to the resin identification code recently issued by the Society of Plastics Industry Inc. (SPI) and the National Recycling Coalition (NRC).

SPI introduced the present resin identification code, which includes numbers, resins abbreviations and the "chasing arrows" symbol, in 1988 as a result of recyclers' demands for a system to identify, sort and recycle different plastics. The code initially applied to bottles and later expanded to include all rigid plastic containers.

While the original code was not intended to be an endorsement of recyclability, the code is now mandated in 39 states and is recognized by consumers as a "recycling code." As a result, debates have centered on misuse of the code on products other than rigid plastic containers and consumer confusion about whether the chasing arrows symbol automatically implies recyclability.

The proposed new coding system, developed by the joint SPI/NRC task force, utilizes the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) code and includes resin abbreviations surrounded by mathematical symbols to help recyclers sort containers for recycling. The new system eliminates numbers and the chasing arrow symbol.

NAPCOR said it "strongly recommends keeping the present numerical coding system to facilitate consumer awareness and education."

As a nonprofit organization dedicated to the reclamation and recycling of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic containers, which are coded on the bottom with the number one, NAPCOR offers educational support to communities and organizations across the country. One of its most successful educational programs has been encouraging consumers to properly identify and recycle PET containers by looking for the number one code.

"We're proud of the fact that PET is the most recycled plastic in the world," said Luke Schmidt, president of NAPCOR. "Our most effective educational tool has been numerical identification, which is easy to understand and simple to locate and identify. The bottom line is that consumers know to look for the number one code when they recycled PET containers."