Research Highlight: Science of EJ Cumulative Assessment Methods

Comprehensive Review of Frameworks, Methods, and Metrics for Cumulative Impact Assessment of Vulnerable Communities: A Science Perspective

The Foundation for Chemistry Research & Initiatives (FCRI) is pleased to support research focused on the scientific methods used for evaluating the cumulative impacts chemical and non-chemical stressors in vulnerable communities. Health inequities in disadvantaged communities can be exacerbated by socioeconomic and psychological stressors, background exposures and health conditions, and ethnic and cultural factors, which can be compounded by disproportionate exposures to pollution. The overall objective of this research investigation was to clarify the current underlying science, methods, and models used to develop cumulative assessments, and to explore potential research needs for improving the quality and usefulness of cumulative impact assessments for communities with EJ concerns. A draft abridged executive summary of the research report is available here. The full Executive Summary and entire Report will be released once the journal article derived from this report has been accepted for publication in the scientific literature.

Initiatives Highlight: Pilot Recycling Program

On June 20, 2018, the Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) research program announced a new partnership with J.P. Mascaro & Sons Inc. to pilot single-stream curbside recycling of flexible plastic packaging (FPP) at its TotalRecycle materials recovery facility (MRF) in Berks County, Pennsylvania. This will be the first pilot to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of recycling household FPP from municipal residential singlestream recycling programs.

“Our MRFF collaborative is excited to partner with J.P. Mascaro and demonstrate the recyclability of flexible plastic packaging. We are all committed to the success of this program and look forward to adding recycled flexible packaging into the circular economy. As a side benefit, we expect to see the quality of J.P.’s other recycling streams improve as the flexible plastics are processed,” said Steve Sikra, MRFF chairperson and associate director of global research and development for Procter & Gamble.

FPP—which includes films,wraps, bags and pouches—is not widely recycled today. As it becomes a larger part of the packaging waste stream, the need for scalable recycling collection strategies is critical to its sustainability. The pilot is expected to generate data to help inform municipalities and the recycling industry on the most efficient and economical ways to recycle FPP. This will turn used FPP materials, typically destined for disposal, into a bale that can be sold to a variety of end markets.

FPP is becoming a more commonly used form of packaging, thanks to its light–weight properties and enhanced product performance and protection. According to Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) the recycling system consultancy which conducts the MRFF research program, 12 billion pounds of the material is introduced into the market for consumer use every year, and it is the fastest growing form of packaging. RRS estimates TotalRecycle will produce 3,100 tons/year of high-quality post-consumer FPP feedstock for various end market uses that are being tested. Mascaro director of sustainability and TotalRecycle general manager, Joseph P. Mascaro, said, “Our company is thrilled to partner with the MRFF partners on this project. We are confident that the pilot will be successful and will generate industry data to show FPP generators, municipalities and the recycling industry that FPP can be efficiently and economically recycled and marketed instead of being landfilled.”

Van Dyk Recycling Solutions will add sophisticated sorting equipment to Mascaro’s TotalRecycle facility that will target FPP out of the single stream flow. The FPP will be identified and separated by advanced optical sorters, resulting in a new generation bale of FPP. The pilot program will begin in late 2018 with the installation of the sorting equipment. After an internal testing period, TotalRecycle will begin accepting FPP for recycling from the municipal residents it serves. From equipment order to acceptance of FPP in curbside carts, the pilot program is expected to last two years time.

Benefits Highlight: Swimming Lessons for Children

Chlorine is an essential element in swimming pools, there to help swimmers stay healthy while enjoying the pool. Unfortunately, the pool can be dangerous for those unable to swim. Not only is swimming a skill that can save lives, knowing how to swim opens up a world of other water-related activities, such as sailing, canoeing, and fishing.

To promote swimming ability for children, the Chlorine Chemistry Foundation (CCF), on behalf of the Water Quality and Health Council (WQHC), has supported the National Swimming Pool Foundation’s Step Into Swim® program initiative known as Angels of America’s Fallen (AOAF). “Angels” provides healthy activities, including swimming lessons, for the children of our country’s fallen military and first responders.

In 2018, CCF donated $5,000 to a new AOAF initiative known as Lessons from Lylah. The goal of the program is to create more young swimmers and in doing so, help prevent drownings. Lylah was the two-year-old daughter of Air Force Master Sergeant Josh Gavulic, who died during military training exercises in Arizona. Following their father’s death, Lylah and her five siblings were placed on an AOAF waiting list for healthy activities of their choice. Tragically, the toddler drowned in the family swimming pool before she could learn to swim. “Lessons from Lylah” was set up to offer every child of America’s fallen swimming lessons in Lylah’s honor.

In supporting “Lessons from Lylah,” CCF and the WQHC honor the memory of Sergeant Gavulic and others who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Research Highlight: SOT Meeting

In 2018, the Foundation for Chemistry Research & Initiatives (Foundation) was pleased to support the Society for Toxicology (SOT) Annual Meeting and ToxExpo, held in San Antonio, TX in March.

The annual meeting is a key venue for scientists from the private sector, academia and government to present their latest research results to the broader science community and to interact with other scientists engaged in related areas of research, testing and assessment. Approximately 7,000 scientists from more than 50 countries participated in this year’s SOT annual meeting.

At the 2018 SOT meeting, research conducted by Texas A&M University, which was sponsored by the Foundation, was presented at one of the poster sessions.  The poster (Abstract Number: 3325 Poster Board Number: P106), entitled, “In Vitro Approaches to Grouping of Complex Substances and UVCBs: A Case Study of Olefin Streams,” applied a “biological read-across” principle to grouping complex substances in a case study of two olefin stream categories. More information about the poster can be found here.

The Society of Toxicology (SOT) is a professional and scholarly organization of scientists from academic institutions, government, and industry representing the great variety of scientists who practice toxicology in the US and abroad. In supporting the SOT annual meeting, the Foundation affirms its commitment to advancing research that underpins the safety evaluation of chemical products.

Initiatives Highlight: Emergency Relief Aid

Three major hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, battered the United States and the Caribbean during the 2017 hurricane season. After the storms passed, disaster relief was necessary to help communities rebuild. To aid in the recovery the Chlorine Chemistry Foundation (CCF), working with safe water partners and volunteers on the ground, provided chlorine based products essential to removing mold and disinfecting surfaces impacted by flood waters.

After a home is flooded, the moist environment creates a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which can pose serious health risks to individuals. Airborne mold spores can be inhaled by people and cause lung infections, permanent neurological issues, and allergies. Bacteria can also cause infections. Chlorine based disinfectants, such as liquid bleach and NaDCC granular chlorine, are effective at destroying mold and bacteria and controlling any subsequent regrowth.

Recognizing the need for relief in impacted communities, CCF stepped in to get chlorine to areas affected by the three hurricanes. After Hurricane Harvey, CCF funded a donation of 18,500 gallons of bleach to Houston, TX. Once the bleach was sent to Houston, the U.S. Conference of Mayors enabled its distribution to the areas that needed it most.

In Haiti, CCF coordinated a donation by Lonza of 6,100 pounds of calcium hypochlorite tablets. The devastation from Hurricane Irma resulted in the Southeast Clean Water Project’s calcium hypochlorite tablets to be diverted to emergency relief efforts, instead of sustaining clean drinking water systems recently established in that area of the country. The donated calcium hypochlorite tablets were used to replenish the Southeast Clean Water Project’s supply so they could continue to provide clean drinking water to the people in southeast Haiti.

After Hurricane Maria, both Florida and Puerto Rico were in need of chlorine disinfectants. CCF funded the donation of over 8,700 gallons of bleach and partnered with World Vision to distribute the bleach in Florida. In Puerto Rico, CCF provided funding for 4,000 pounds of NaDCC granular chlorine. World Vision enabled the transport of the product to Puerto Rico and Water Engineers for the Americas (WEFTA) distributed the product to communities and trained community leaders on how to use the product safely. Approximately 10,000 people were helped by this effort.

Hurricanes and other natural disasters cannot be stopped; however, the aid provided by CCF in their aftermath is critical. During these trying times, CCF is grateful to work with invaluable partners and provide relief that helps the people impacted by hurricanes rebuild.

Initiatives Highlight: Flexible Packaging Recycling Project

Research sponsored by the Materials Recovery for the Future collaborative, and administered by the Foundation for Chemistry Research & Initiatives, showed that automated sorting technologies in use today can be optimized to capture flexible plastic packaging—potentially creating a new stream of recovered materials while improving the quality of other recycling streams.

The research, documented in the Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) report, “Flexible Packaging Sortation at Materials Recovery Facilities,” demonstrates that with adequate screening and optical sorting capacity, flexible plastic packaging can be efficiently captured in a single-stream materials recovery facility (MRF).

“Flexible packaging has many positive attributes—highly efficient, great product protection, and lower environmental impact than many alternatives. However, recovery has been one of its weak points,” said Brad Rodgers, foods packaging research and development director for discovery and sustainability at PepsiCo. “This study is shedding light on pathways that can be deployed to improve flexible packaging end-of-life options. PepsiCo is proud to be actively engaged in this industry collaboration.”

“Lifecycle assessment provides compelling data regarding the potential benefits films can offer,” shares Stephen Sikra, P&G technology manager for materials science. “This research provides a valuable foundation for helping advance new solutions for flexible film recovery, and we are proud to be part of it.” Common forms of flexible plastic packaging include re-sealable food bags, pouches for laundry detergent pods, pet food bags, and snack bags.

“We now know how flexibles flow through a material recovery facility and that the technology already exists for separating flexibles out of the materials streams,” said Larry Baner, senior packaging research scientist, global packaging and design for Nestlé Purina Petcare. “Although there is still a lot of work to be done to define the best way to separate flexibles from single-stream recyclables, this research moves us closer to solutions.”

This first phase of the research program included baseline testing, equipment testing, and a series of recovery facility trials to test existing sortation technologies commonly used in MRFs, such as screens and optical scanners. RRS developed the test methodology and conducted the research trials. Subsequent research will focus on further refinements to sorting technology, economic feasibility, assessing end-use markets for the material, and developing a recovery facility demonstration project.