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Waste Management
Spotlight On: Tivoly

In our ever-changing world, it can be both heartening and disheartening to realize what is gained and what is lost in the transition.

pipe photoA bumper sticker popular during Vermont's booming '60s and '70s urged historic preservation and older, simpler ways of living by reminding us that "Vermont is today what America once was." While many decry the notion of Vermont preserved as a theme park, our rural landscape provides a living link to the past, contributes to the healthy environment for raising families today, and promises continued marketability for those trying to attract employees, tourists, or new businesses.

Vermont's urban, suburban, and rural landscapes, however, have all been changed by the waste we generate, although less so than most states. In Vermont's larger cities, toxic chemicals and hazardous waste - whether accidentally released into the environment or improperly disposed of - have created contaminated sites that punch holes in the fabric of a community. Leaking underground storage tanks scattered throughout the state have introduced petroleum products into drinking water supplies and the atmosphere. Rural communities are also changed by the wastes we generate. Municipalities continue to deal with illegal dumping and backyard burn barrels, and it is the state's rural communities that are most frequently approached when there is need to site new waste management facilities.

The news media in 1997 reported that Vermont has more identified hazardous waste sites (2,083) than dairy farms (1,845). The image these statistics suggest contrasts sharply with the more pristine picture of Vermont we all work hard to promote and should prompt us all to re-examine the environmental consequences of our actions.

Chart: Toxic releases by major VT manufacturersThe majority of known hazardous waste sites (1,681) are the result of contamination from leaking underground storage tanks (USTs). These USTs are fuel storage tanks buried beneath pavement at local gas stations and under lawns in many Vermonters' backyards. Although many of the sites where fuel has leaked from USTs were in locations where exposure to contaminants could be minimized, some releases have threatened public health and the environment. Contaminated drinking water, vapors in indoor air, polluted surface waters, and contaminated groundwater and soils typically result at such sites. In 1997 alone, the Agency of Natural Resources supplied Vermont citizens with more than 38,000 gallons of bottled water at locations where leaking USTs contaminated drinking water. The experience of the past 10 years has heightened everyone's awareness of pollution sources, and there has been an extensive effort to prevent future contamination and to safeguard human health and the environment where failures occur. Yet, there is much that still needs to be done. Of the high-risk USTs identified, 35 percent, or 642, still need either to be permanently removed from the ground or replaced with double-lined storage tanks with leak detection systems. Agency efforts to ensure clean-up at all sites continue; more than 1,000 sites remain where releases have been identified, but investigation is required, and clean-up, if necessary, has not yet begun.

Each year, manufacturing companies must report their transfers and releases of nearly 700 hazardous chemicals determined to be toxic. This information is reported through the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI. Although the TRI data represent only waste generation and reduction activity by the state's largest industrial facilities, they are important indicators for measuring industry's commitment to pollution prevention.

The 1995 Toxics Release Inventory, the most recent available, continues to show a downward trend for the release of toxic chemicals into the environment (Figure 1). Vermont manufacturers reduced the amount of toxics released into the air, water, and land by 16 percent from the previous year, far out-pacing the national rate of 4.9 percent. Between 1988 and 1995, Vermont manufacturers have cut their toxic releases by nearly two-thirds.

Chart: Change in generator status of companies subject to Act 100Ninety-nine percent of the industrial toxic releases in Vermont were air releases, and the majority of these were volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with solvent use in coatings and cleaning operations. Of the 38 Vermont facilities submitting TRI reports in 1995, approximately two-thirds have already developed and implemented many waste reduction strategies included in state-mandated pollution prevention plans.

Between 1995 and 1996, there were 239 industrial facilities in Vermont that were required to prepare pollution prevention plans. These facilities used prevention strategies to reduce hazardous waste totals by 336,738 pounds. During that same period, two large generators of hazardous waste prevented enough pollution to be reclassified as small generators, and 11 small generators reduced waste volumes enough to fall below threshold amounts and were exempted from future planning requirements (Figure 2).

The term waste, like pollution, is itself a negative word connoting both resource and economic inefficiency. Both terms, however, are modified to have a very positive meaning when combined with the word prevention. Waste prevention and pollution prevention essentially involve efforts to avoid producing waste, to decrease the quantity of waste, to decrease the toxicity of waste materials, or to increase the resource efficiency of a process, product, or service.

Water and air pollution can no longer be thought of as the unavoidable price of progress. Pollution needs to be regarded as a measure of inefficiency, a waste of raw materials, energy, and labor. Vermonters continue to strengthen a trend toward more effective use of resources by practicing pollution prevention, reuse, recycling, and resource conservation. Where this positive trend can be continued into the future, we are most likely to achieve prosperity without pollution.

Spotlight on Tivoly

Tivoly photoTivoly, Incorporated, with 160 full-time employees in Derby Line, was recognized with a Governor's Award for Environmental Achievement in Pollution Prevention in 1997. Tivoly is the first Vermont company to be ISO 14001 registered - and the first cutting tool manufacturer in North America to receive ISO 14001 certification.

ISO 14000 is a series of international standards developed to prevent, reduce, and manage the environmental impacts of industrial activities. The ISO 14000 series of standards contains requirements and guidelines for establishing and maintaining a company's environmental management system. In the spring of 1996, even before the standard was officially approved, Tivoly's management team committed itself to seek this registration and started to develop the required documentation. Tivoly's environmental policy explicitly states: "Tivoly employees are committed to prevention of pollution, continual improvement and compliance with relevant environmental regulations."

The company's environmental slogan, "ISO 14001 - A Crystal Clear Policy: PosiTIVOLY Committed to Environmental Excellence," helped build employee support for the belief that environmental protection is everybody's responsibility.