Closing the Loop

Closing the Loop Quarterly Update
May 2018

Welcome ​​to the second edition of this​​ ​quarterly ​update brought to you by the Sustainability and Materials Management Units at CDPHE. Here we provide updates on state programs and national challenges, and share tools and resources for sustainable materials management. Join us in Closing the Loop.  
In this update:

Helping Brewers Go Green
By: Derek Boer, CDPHE

Colorado is home to around 350 craft brewers, second most of any state in the nation. Brewing beer uses a lot of energy and water. The brewing process also creates wastes such as spent grains and wastewater. Last year, we began onsite sustainability assessments to brewers to conserve resources, reduce waste, and save money. 
We found that many craft brewers have already adopted sustainable practices. Some practices, such as sending spent grain to feed livestock, are nearly universal. Most of the sustainability practices observed at brewers are associated with reducing energy usage.
Through the assessment, we identified additional opportunities to reduce energy and water use and minimize wastewater and solid waste. Many recommendations didn’t involve expensive equipment upgrades, but rather included things like leak detection, preventative maintenance, utility tracking and employee training. 
The initiative generated greater interest in implementing sustainable practices and cultivated a more active sustainable brewers network by holding a summit to share best practices. In addition, four brewers joined the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program and will be recognized for their efforts.
For more information, please see the initiative report or website.  
Derek Boer
Pollution Prevention Program
(303) 692-2977
Kaitlin Urso
Small Business Assistance Program
(303) 692-3715

National Sword: How China's ban on imported recyclables affects Colorado
By: Wolf Kray, CDPHE

In July 2017, China notified the World Trade Organization of their plan to ban imports of certain recycled materials, most notably mixed paper, common grades of plastic and 22 other types of recyclable materials. The Chinese government initiated this policy known as “National Sword” for preventing the import of “waste” materials and setting contamination limits on the amount of waste mixed within bales of other types of recyclable materials.
The policy has resulted in substantial economic and logistical challenges for recycling programs throughout the US and Colorado. Over the last decade, the US has become dependent on export markets for recyclables because lots of paper and plastic collected from single stream recycling end up in China for processing. The effects of the import ban has been felt most by recyclers in the west coast states. A handful of recyclers in California and Oregon, most affected by the ban, have even had to landfill their stockpiles of recyclables due to running out of storage space ( April 2018).
For recyclable materials not included in the ban, China finalized an allowable contamination limit of 0.5 percent in bales of recyclables as of March 1, 2018. As a direct result of National Sword, the average value of mixed paper in the US is now at an all-time low of $4 per ton, down from $75 per ton in August 2017 (Resource Recycling, April 2018).
While not directly subject to the import ban, China also reduced the amount of import permits issued for cardboard in the fall of 2017. The lack of import permits for cardboard has resulted in an increase of cardboard stockpiles at US recyclers. The lack of import permits for cardboard has resulted in an increase of cardboard stockpiles at US recyclers and has negatively affected the market value from the increased supply. US cardboard prices have dropped from an average of $160 per ton in March 2017 to $74 per ton (Resource Recycling, April 2018).
To sustain cost-effective recycling programs, it’s critical we do everything we can to ensure recyclables collected are free of waste contaminates such as plastic bags. Many recycling facilities are making operational changes to improve the quality of raw materials produced. Most importantly, consumers at the residential level need to better understand what is not recyclable to prevent contaminating the recycling stream.
While the recycling industry is currently experiencing some hurdles, it could  be the opportunity needed to develop a closed loop process for managing recyclable commodities by domestic manufactures. It also could spark the development of new end-markets for paper and plastic in Colorado. Hopefully we can learn from this major challenge and use the lessons learned to improve recycling operations long term. 

PaintCare Annual Report
By: Emily Wilson, CDPHEInfographic of paintcare report numbers

Since July 1, 2015, PaintCare has collected and processed more than 1.6 million gallons of unused paint throughout our state. The paint stewardship program, the first of its kind in Colorado, is overseen by PaintCare, a non-profit, industry created organization. Unused latex paint, collected by PaintCare, is either reused or recycled into new paint. Unused oil-based paint can be used as an industrial fuel source. PaintCare is required to report to the department annually on March 31st. The infographic to the right summarizes the annual report. You can also download a larger version.
After receiving the annual report, CDPHE is then required to report back to the Colorado legislature on the program’s success. This report should be posted on our website by the end of June. Please see this report for more information regarding department oversight and program progress. We also created an informational video explaining the program and what happens to collected paint. 
Recently, a bill was introduced to repeal the paint stewardship program. The bill didn’t pass, but we did hear some of the concerns that prompted this legislation. We will continue to ensure PaintCare is operating according to their approved plan and appropriately managing surplus funds. This program is still maturing; at least five years of data is needed to establish trends in participation and processing. What we do know is that the popularity of this program only continues to grow! 
If you have questions about paint collection or recycling, please contact us.

Emily Wilson


Tier II Reporting: An Update
By: Kendra Appelman-Eastvedt, CDPHE
The Colorado Environmental Online System (CEOS) Tier II application launched successfully in its first reporting season. As of April 1, more than 1,600 Tier II reporters had set-up accounts in CEOS, and 16,463 Colorado facilities submitted their annual 2017 hazardous chemical inventory files. Additionally, most of our new users welcomed the CEOS reporting process and technical support. CEOS for Tier II started  in December  2017 to follow federal electronic reporting rules and to improve the payment process. 
Although the reporting deadline was March 1, if your company stores chemicals exceeding the EPA-accepted threshold at locations in Colorado, you may still register and file a late report. If the status of stored chemicals at your facility changes, or your organization wishes to submit a voluntary file,  you can also do this in CEOS. 
We continue to provide single-point Tier II submission via the CEOS platform. As a result, all Tier II reports are shared with local emergency planning committees and fire districts to ensure the safety of first responders and the public, and to protect property.
Visit the Tier II web page to learn more and access step-by-step guides for setting up CEOS accounts and submitting reports. 
Kendra Appelman-Eastvedt
(303) 692-3641

Sustainable Materials Management now part of Climate Action Plan
Governor John Hickenlooper recently released an updated edition of the Colorado Climate Plan, a statewide set of policy recommendations and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to increase Colorado’s level of preparedness. The revised plan includes a broader discussion of sustainable materials management (SMM), which offers a more holistic approach and identifies opportunities to reduce emissions throughout the entire lifecycle of materials and products. 
While diverting materials from landfills through recycling and composting are important components of SMM, each phase of a product's life, from materials extraction through end-of-life management, has a carbon footprint. Through the updated Plan, the state recognizes the need to use a lifecycle approach to accurately measure and address GHG emissions. The update identifies lifecycle assessments and improving management for specific products such as food, packaging and building materials, as potential benefits in reducing GHG emissions in Colorado. 
“Colorado is committed to doing its part to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our climate,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “A lot is at stake for Colorado’s quality of life, its economy and its environment. This updated edition of our Climate Plan includes measurable goals that we are setting for our state and draws on the collaborative efforts of our state agencies to face the considerable set of challenges posed by our warming climate.”