A Quick Guide for Selection and Use of Approved Covid-19/Coronavirus Disinfectants

As we discussed previously, routine or periodic cleaning and disinfection are an important part of an overall workplace Coronavirus safety program, along with hand washing, social distancing and source control measures such as mask use. Additional cleaning and disinfection can be considered in work areas if one or more workers contract Coronavirus.

According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html, the first step to disinfect a surface is cleaning with soap and water to remove dirt and dust and reduce the amount of virus on the surface followed by application of application of approved disinfectant.

No matter how they are applied, Covid disinfection requires use of approved disinfectants, including 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or 70% alcohol (Ethanol or Isopropyl Alcohol)

To prepare a 0.1% bleach solution, mix:

Make sure to check the expiration date on your bleach container. Also, the bleach solution degrades over time so ACTenviro recommends making new solution every 24 hours as needed. Finally, pay attention to safety. Bleach is corrosive so wear appropriate PPE, including gloves, eye/face protection, mix outsider or in areas that have good ventilation, have spill supplies available and never mix bleach with ammonia or anything other than water!

For surfaces or locations where bleach is not suitable, 70% alcohol (ethanol or isopropyl alcohol) may be used, although these flammable liquids have their own set of safety issues.

The EPA also maintains a list of disinfectants that are anticipated to be effective against Covid/Coronavirus – EPA List N – Approved for “Emerging Viral Pathogens”

Specific products are shown on List N, however other products with the same active ingredient (based on the product’s EPA registration number) can also be used.

Keep in mind though that Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed and use of any of these materials should be reviewed to determine if additional PPE (including respiratory protection) is required.

Still have questions? See our previous post that looked at cleaning and disinfection requirements or stay tuned for our next post where we will talk about at validation and how to make sure that your cleaning and decontamination process is effective.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

We all know what happens when we destroy our environment. So, taking care of it is everyone’s responsibility. Naturally, the U.S. government enacted laws to ensure maximum environmental protection and the CERCLA Act, commonly known as “Superfund, is one such example. To put simply, the CERCLA Act regulates the control and management of hazardous and toxic wastes detected within abandoned or “orphaned” facilities that can affect not just the environment but also the health of the public. 

Under CERCLA, approximately $1.6 billion was collected from a special tax on the petroleum and chemical industries that lasted until 1995.  This money, along with revenue from companies that created the problem is used for clean-up and waste management at abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

What is CERCLA?

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is also known as the Superfund act. CERCLA was passed by the U.S. Congress on December 11, 1980. CERCLA laid out the requirements for closing and abandoning hazardous sites and its related prohibitions and established liability for those who created the waste, referred to as “potentially responsible parties” or PRPs.  After identifying the proper hazardous waste removal plan for a specific, abandoned area, called Superfund sites, the next step is to try to ensure that the PRPs will be held accountable. 

As mentioned in the introductory section of this article, CERCLA also imposed a tax on the chemical and petroleum industry.  The funds from this tax (which was in effect from 1980 to 19995) were placed in a trust fund to be used for cleaning up activities in cases where no person or party can be identified as responsible for the hazardous waste.

CERCLA is under the administration of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The amounts that CERCLA or Superfund accumulates is for a specific use. Obviously, this means that the government is not allowed to spend it on anything else. 

CERCLA is also known as

Comprehensive Environmental Response
Compensation Liability Act
Compensation And Liability Act 

What caused CERCLA?

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act was ratified in 1980 but the reason behind CERCLA started in the ’70s with several unacceptable, tragic incidents and unlawful practices of mismanaged toxic, hazardous waste disposal. Here are some notable examples:

A grave accident at a chemical treatment facility  happened in 1977 that left six people dead and thirty-five people hospitalized in Bridgeport, New Jersey. The incident started from a spark of a welder’s torch which came in contact with some chemicals in the facility. This resulted in a big fire in the chemical-waste treatment facility. The event raised an alarming concern from the public and got the government’s attention because it covered the city of Bridgeport in huge black smoke.

Another terrible incident concerning hazardous waste happened in the Love Canal neighborhood near Niagara Falls, New York that prompted then-President Jimmy Carter to declare a State of Emergency in 1978. The residents started to develop rashes, pregnant women experienced miscarriages, and babies were born with birth defects. The case was traced from a former chemical facility which dumped their wastes in the canal near the Niagara River. 

Due to these unfortunate incidents, the House and Senate committees met in 1979. They discussed the risk of these hazardous waste dumps and filed bills to create a “superfund” to deal with these kinds of disasters. 

The same year that CERCLA law was passed, another catastrophe happened in a waste storage facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey. A huge fire broke out and sent up into the atmosphere thick black smoke and ash. The public feared chemical contamination since the fire lasted for ten hours and covered a 15-mile area. 

These tragedies pushed President Carter to sign the CERCLA Act.

What’s the difference between the RCRA and CERCLA?

Before CERCLA came into fruition, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) was enacted first to create an office in the government that has control over hazardous waste, from its generation to disposal as there was a growing concern by the public regarding “midnight dumping” of hazardous wastes.

RCRA (1976)

CERCLA (1980)

Focuses on specific approaches to both solid and hazardous waste management within facilities, sites and areas that are abandoned yet identified to contain environmentally hazardous substances.

CERCLA Response Actions

There are two kinds of response actions that the CERCLA law allows: short-term removals and long-term remedial response actions. These responses are administered by the EPA.

The short-term removals are taken when the threat of a toxic waste accident requires an immediate response. On the other hand, long-term remedial response actions are taken when the threat of a toxic waste release is grave but not life-threatening. These actions are only allowed at locations included in the National Priorities List (NPL) by the EPA. 

CERCLA later revised the National Contingency Plan (NCP) which handles the NPL. The NCP created the provisions and procedures for the needed responses to the threat of toxic waste releases, or actual releases. 

Aside from the authority to decide over the kind of response actions to take, the EPA’s responsibility also covers cleaning up sites where the identification of parties responsible is not possible or when the parties just failed to act. The EPA recovers the cost of the cleanup from financially able individuals or companies who are involved when the response action is completed.

The cleanup enforcement program of the EPA aims to provide protection to human health and the environment by imposing regulations on parties responsible for the toxic waste release. The EPA either orders for cleanup or reimbursement for the cleanup that they will conduct to avoid public exposure to toxic waste.

Another important goal of the EPA for their cleanup enforcement program is the reusability of the previously contaminated facility. This is done by encouraging cleanup of the facility in accordance with the Superfund liability concerns. The facility owner liability protections are also implemented. 

When facilities under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) do not properly manage their toxic waste, the EPA and the states oblige the individuals responsible to do the cleanup under CERCLA. 

CERCLA Amendments

The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) was an amendment made to reauthorize CERCLA on October 17, 1986. Several changes and additions to the program were made as follows:

Most significantly though Title III of SARA authorized the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).   EPCRA was a direct response to a catastrophic release chemical disaster in Bhopal India, where a release of methyl isocyanate killed or injured thousands of people.

EPCRA requires states and local governments to establish local chemical emergency preparedness programs for their communities and requires businesses to report hazardous materials storage as well as emergency releases.  EPCRA also requires EPA to establish and maintain a publicly available toxic chemical release inventory (TRI) of facility-specific chemical release and waste management information.

Conclusion

CERCLA is one of the key pieces of environmental legislation in the US.  CERCLA created a mechanism to identify abandoned hazardous waste sites and ensure they are cleaned up, in order to protect the public and the environment.  The costs for clean-up are covered from the superfund trust (originally funded by a tax on the petroleum and chemical industries), as well as revenue from potentially responsible parties.  In addition, Title III of SARA requires states to establish emergency preparedness programs and requires businesses to report the hazardous materials they use, as well releases of those hazardous materials.

Shocking Waste Generation and Recycling Statistics Revealed: US in the Top 10 Highest Risk Countries

Introduction

Did you know that each year the United States recycles about one-third of all waste created? This is among the key recycling statistics that provide a snapshot of other issues like plastic bag recycling statistics, landfill pollution statistics, and the global waste problem.

Various recycling statistics show it’s boosted its recycling/waste ratio in 1960, 1980, 2000, and 2010s. In fact, the nation’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been tracking the USA’s creation and disposal of waste and showing stats for 30+ years.

When compared to other developed countries, the US produces a significantly higher amount of waste, and recycles a smaller percent. For example, the USA makes up 4% of the planet’s population yet produces a sky-high 12% of its city/town waste.

A Global Snapshot of Waste Issues 2020

In recent decades the international waste issue has worsened exponentially and affected figures like textile waste statistics. This has been due to various factors like:

The situation has resulted in waste generation becoming a major concern in terms of the conservation of natural resources and public health.

It’s also likely that such risks can be linked to worldwide companies. That’s due to the business activities being connected to solid waste creation, whether it’s directly or through indirect factors.

The global waste production is projected to increase by 70% by 2050, according to stats provided by the World Bank. This result can be prevented if people, organizations, and nations take urgent action. Humans now produce an average of 2 BILLION tons of waste every year.

The issue of global waste management is closely linked to overpopulation. It’s projected that by 2030 the world population will reach 8.5 billion. This highlights the need to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Such an approach can help to minimize the effects of human-produced waste on public health and Earth’s environment. Even in small efforts such as using compost to grow plants in your garden or setting aside certain household wastes for recycling.

Several factors such as pollution are creating a devastating impact on the planet’s ecosystem. This includes the general effects of air, water, and soil pollution. For example, chemical compounds in waste break down over several years.

The majority of this pollution is produced through motor vehicles and industrial exhaust. Today’s lifestyle generates such bi-products. Toxic waste is produced from various sources, including plastic, heavy metals, and nitrates.

The final destination of many plastics that each human being disposes of is the ocean. People often never observe those plastics since strong winds blow the pollution out to sea.

The current global situation involving waste and recycling poses some critical questions related to issues like recycling contamination statistics. That’s because the current year is shaping the industry outlook in terms of issues related to:

Some major questions that will be answered this year include:

The answers to such big questions are closely linked to various Waste Generation and Recycling Indices. They’re often combined with charts, graphs and datasets with dozens of indices that track key risks linked to factors like environment, climate change, and natural hazards.

Such datasets are part of a bigger collection of global risk indices. This includes various issues including environmental and economic risks.

A Waste Generation Index (WGI) offers a quantitative evaluation of a nation’s waste production. It factors in several critical waste types, including:

Who’s Generating All the Junk?

Population spikes are part of the problem in terms of the world’s waste production. However, other factors including mass human consumption by a small number of developing nations, and bad waste mismanagement causing the environmental impact to become exponentially worse. In 2014 the average person in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) generated 1.4kg of waste per day, according to OECD stats. Not only do wealthier people consume more total goods, but they also consume a higher amount of packaging. Based on global waste statistics 2020, the majority of waste in middle/high-income nations includes paper, plastic, and other inorganic materials. Meanwhile, developing countries produce over half of the Earth’s total solid waste. This includes nations like Costa Rica and Thailand where tourism is a major source of revenue. Global statistics show that the USA tops nations that fuel the worsening waste crisis. This is due to the nation’s surging consumption without an equal increase in recycling. The largest global economy shows a new index revealing the USA tops the world’s waste production, and ranks as one of the world’s lowest industrial countries in terms of recycling trash.

Who’s Generating All the Junk?

Today’s world waste statistics by country show the United States now tops all nations in terms of waste generation. This was based on two indices created recently by Verisk Maplecroft that included 194 nations.

The research examined how effectively countries are conducting waste management. This is happening in an era when the Earth is dealing with a crisis in which plastics are the major factor.

It’s worth noting that highly-developed North American and European nations all produce a relatively high amount of waste. The highest-risk nations in terms of waste generation include:

The world creates enough waste every year to fill 800,000 Olympic swimming pools. While the US produces more waste than all other countries, it also lags behind several other nations since it only recycles slightly over one-third of solid waste.

US Creates 3x the Global Average of Waste

This UK study found that the US generates 3x more waste than the global average. The USA produces an average 773kg/1704 lbs. per person of food, plastic, and hazardous waste. This includes 12% of Earth’s MSW, or about 939 million tons.

The amount of US-produced waste is staggering. For example, the figure is 7x higher than Ethiopia, which produces the world’s least amount of waste. Another key fact is the US is the only developed country that lacks the capacity to recycle produced waste.

Several studies show that US infrastructure doesn’t make recycling a viable option for households and companies, which affects recycling costs statistics. Due to bans on exported waste, much of US-produced waste is now burned.

US Generates 4x More Waste than India

China and India combine to make up more than 36% of the world’s population. However, they create 27% of the world’s municipal waste. Interestingly, Americans create more than 3x more waste as China’s citizens.

In terms of the total waste that China and India create the figure is actually higher than the USA’s. However, the two Asian countries also have a combined population of over 2.7 billion, which is over 8x the USA’s population. Thus, the amount of waste Chinese and Indian people produce is a little over 2x the amount of garbage that Americans produce.

The Recycling Index

Verisk Maplecroft created the recycling index as a way to manage recycling performance among 190+ nations. It helps to provide an overview of how different countries are managing waste.

The Recycling Index evaluates how well a nation is willing and able to maintain solid waste that boosts the “3 Rs” through circular material flows. The index is used to determine to what extent a nation’s recovery and recycling of solid waste will affect commercial risks.

The risks are measured by factoring in the ratio of a nation’s solid waste that gets:

Another factor that’s measured is the amount of governmental commitment, which is determined through adhering to world waste-focused treaties.

Several recyclable materials are evaluated when creating a recycling index. For example, in recent years scientists conducted a study to determine the amount of plastic that was

One key issue is that plastic takes over four centuries to decompose.

The study published in Science Advances projects that by 2050 the world’s oceans will have more plastic than fish (pound for pound), according to National Geographic, It’s also estimated that just 20% of the world’s plastic was recycled in 2015.

Top Countries in Recycling Performance

Several European Union (EU) nations top Recycling Indexes. In global waste statistics 2018, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) teamed up with an environmental consultancy firm to provide data on the nations with the top recycling rates:

#1 GERMANY (56.1%)

Germany has maintained the world’s highest recycling rate since 2016. In 1990 the country completed a packaging audit to prevent a possible spike in landfall issues.

#2 AUSTRIA (53.8%)

Germany’s neighbor has a total ban on particular waste types, which lowers landfill pollution statistics. That includes products with a carbon emission rate (organic) over 5%.

#3 SOUTH KOREA (53.7)

This Asian country uses a system in which private companies collect waste for profit. This ranking in recycling statistics 2018 will likely change. That’s because in April 2018, China banned imported plastic waste.

#4 WALES (52.2%)

This is the smallest nation on this list. Local administrations operate Wales’ recycling, and most individuals and businesses follow similar rules about what they can recycle.

#5 SWITZERLAND (49.7%)

One key to the nation’s recycling system is the “polluter pays” regulation. This requires households/businesses to pay for all non-recycled waste.

The US Lags Behind Other Developed Countries

Verisk Maplecroft’s research discovered that the USA recycled much less than the world’s other developed countries. There are various causes of this scenario, including non-recycled plastics and developing countries like China refusing to accept US waste.

The research showed that the US only recycles about one-third of municipal waste. Meanwhile, the most efficient recycling country was Germany at over two-thirds of waste recycled.

The UK consulting firm reported the USA’s low recycling rate was due to various factors. They included a lack of recycling infrastructure and limited legislation.

Various nations and organizations have accused the US of blocking international steps to reduce plastic waste. That includes banning plastic bags and (single-use) water bottles.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (UN general assembly president) reported that non-governmental groups could still help to boost plastic recycling trends. That includes the USA’s private sector, for example.

World’s Waste Destinations

Foreign Plastic Waste Ban

In nations throughout the world, companies have been pressured to start dealing with plastic waste in particular. For example, several nations have passed legislation to reduce single-use plastic materials, including the items in plastic bag recycling statistics. Today 120+ nations now regulate plastic bags, according to a UN/WRI study.

The anti-plastic bag legislation varies. They include ones like bans, phase-out programs, and pro-reusable bag incentives. Still, each year 8 million metric tons of plastic pollution end up in oceans. It’s estimated companies make about 5 TRILLION plastic bags yearly.

UK and EU Announce End of Single Use Plastics

The EU parliament has voted to ban all single-use plastic by 2021 including:

Meanwhile, by 2029 EU states will have to meet a collection target of 90% for plastic bottles. In addition, by 2025 plastic bottles will also be required to contain one-quarter recycled content.

The EU legislation also states that labels will be required to state the negative effects on Earth’s environment of throwing certain items onto the street. That includes products like plastic cups.

China’s Waste Import Ban Effects

In the past, China imposed a waste import ban during late 2017, which affected recycling statistics 2017. The goal was to prevent foreign waste products, including plastic, from entering the country.

This step by the Asian country has resulted in waste exporters, including the US, EU, and Australia, from being unable to manage a large amount of generated plastic waste. This requires such countries to find new destinations for domestic waste and has resulted in much solid waste being imported to other developing countries.

Source of Waste Imported to China

Prior to its imported waste ban, China had bought the world’s most recycled waste for a quarter-century. This included nations like the US, UK, and Australia. This required them to find new buyers in regions like South-East Asia including Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.

This scenario resulted from China’s policy known as “National Sword”, the 2018 law that later affected plastic pollution statistics 2019 banned the import of various recyclable materials like plastic. Since then, the country’s plastic imports have dropped by 99%, according to Yale.

German Waste Exports

Germany has strict rules about sending waste to other countries. For example, recycling statistics 2020 show plastics can only be shipped abroad for recycling.

Following China’s 2018 ban on imported plastic, this resulted in countries like Germany finding new countries to export plastics. In fact, past data shows that in 2018 Germany’s garbage exports to Malaysia spiked 125%. The country exports to other South/South-East Asian countries. This includes sky-rocketing amounts to Malaysia, Indonesia, and India.

US Waste Exports

Studies show that the USA produces more waste than all other countries. In 2018 u.s. plastic waste statistics show it exported over 1 billion kilograms of waste, according to Greenpeace. This included this waste fact: nearly 80% ended up in countries including:

The result of global waste statistics 2019 showed that the US export of plastic waste to many nations spiked after China’s ban on imported waste.

Latin America and Eastern Europe as New Waste Destinations?

Responsible waste exporting can include nations that produce little waste but also conduct good waste management. Several Eastern European and Latin American countries score a medium or higher risk for disposing of waste adequately.

However, investors might also have to deal with possible risks if they decide to fund the construction of new waste infrastructure in such countries. Nations in those regions with medium risk include:

Conclusion

Various studies show that the USA is the world’s biggest waste generator, while only about one-third gets recycled. This paints a bleak picture versus many EU countries with world-topping recycling/waste ratios.

Meanwhile, it’s possible for the situation to improve, including landfill facts, through methods like national and state legislation, improved recycling infrastructure, and private sector advocacy. These factors and others could decrease in the amount of waste produced by the world’s largest economy.

Some promising recycling statistics show the potential for improving the situation. For example, a 2017 study showed that 85% of Americans recycle plastic. The 2-pronged approach of reducing waste and increasing recycling would be the best recipe for success.

Waste and Recycle Resources