Welcome to another EHS Moment from Encamp…

This time I want to talk about two things that don’t even seem to fit in the same sentence: My interest in shoes, and my interest in the environment and sustainability. Because what do shoes have to do with the environment, right?

The answer is, thanks to Nike, shoes now have everything to do with the environment and sustainability.

Earlier this summer Nike released its new Space Hippie shoe collection (the new line dropped in July), and they’re reported to be their lowest carbon footprint shoe ever made. Space Hippies consist mostly of recycled material — yes, they’re literally made of trash! — and Nike offers four models to choose from. (My favorite is the Space Hippie 01, which provides the traditional lace-up with the one-of-a-kind Nike Crater Foam outsoles.)

With Nike leading the way, shoe companies’ efforts towards waste-free carbon neutrality and keeping sustainability at the top of mind is a huge step. Nike says as much in promoting their new shoes and the approach they’re taking to producing them.

“Space Hippie,” as Nike puts it, “is the result of sustainable practices meeting radical design.”

When you take a closer look at Space Hippies, the material the shoes are made of stands out. Overall, the fabric is 85% to 90% recycled, with 50% of that coming from plastic bottles and other plastic waste. Along with recycled plastics, 25% of the shoes’ material consists of old consumer goods, like t-shirts. The remaining material is a mix of Nike yarn or other leftover materials in their factories.

So that’s how you have the upper half of Space Hippies. On the bottom half, their cushion sole is made of Nike Zoom X foam, or what Nike calls crater foam, of which 15% is made from grain rubber. That’s where you get the Nike proprietary mix and little flecks and specks inside the foam, which really stands out stylistically. As a shoe enthusiast, I think the new Space Hippies are really good-looking shoes.

Yet while making shoes from recycled materials is a positive step for Nike and the environment, it isn’t necessarily a new concept for the global shoe and sportswear maker. To date, Nike has already been recognized for diverting roughly 1 billion plastic bottles from landfills to be recycled for greater sustainable good.

Beyond Nike, other shoe companies are also now escalating their efforts toward waste-free carbon neutrality and sustainability in the materials they use. On that list: Saolo, Indosole, Timberland, North Face, MOVMT, and Nike competitors adidas and Converse, among others. It’s a move in the right direction both for our environment and for the business world itself.

These efforts also reinforce what we always say at Encamp: What’s good for business is good for the environment.

Today I want to talk about a company that is quickly becoming one of my favorites — and not just for the items they make. The company is Diageo, and for the record they’re the spirit company that produces Johnny Walker, Guinness, and Smirnoff.

Now, making scotch, ale and vodka is all well and good. But environmentally, what Diageo does is they always keep sustainability top of mind in almost everything they do. The company is known for their industry leading environmental goals and achievements as much as they are for the spirits they sell.

This year, in fact, Diageo announced they’ve achieved most of their sustainability goals that they set back in 2008. They’ve cut their greenhouse gas emissions in half across its direct operations, improved its water efficiency by 46%, and achieved zero waste to landfill at all production sites and offices.

So kudos to Diageo.

The first 100% plastic free paper-based bottle

A few months ago, the company also announced they’ve created their first 100% plastic free bottle made of paper products.

Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. We’ve all used paper straws, and not all of us are fans of paper straws. As you drink more, they tend to break down. I hear you.

But by a paper bottle, I mean paper based. Diageo’s new bottle will be made entirely from sustainably sourced wood to meet food-safe standards and will be fully recyclable in standard waste streams. It will debut with Johnny Walker in early 2021.

Likewise, this new bottle will allow other brands to rethink their packaging designs and go plastic free. Safe to say, Diageo is pushing sustainability and environmental innovation — which is what we all want.

Look for more of our daily EHS Moment videos on your favorite social channel. And please, give them a like or leave a comment. You can also watch the entire video series on the Encamp YouTube page.

Remember, what’s good for business is good for the environment.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone’s work environment in some way. Mandatory shutdowns in particular forced us to retreat from the office and changed how we work — and where. Working from home, kitchen tables became our new cubicles, and Zoom became the coffee machine we gathered around to chit chat.

But throughout the U.S., states have eased their shutdown restrictions and many workers have returned to the facilities they were previously barred from. Office buildings. Factories. Retail stores. Distribution hubs. Medical offices and other workplaces.

To ensure pandemic-focused public health in these workplaces, many companies, as well as OSHA, have expanded their safety regulations in line with COVID-19. Companies failing to comply with OSHA’s regulations are subject to be inspected, cited, and fined for violations. The key here is that OSHA has the authority to cite companies per violation, with a maximum fine of $13,494 for each instance.

Thus far, however, many coronavirus safety violations have fallen under OSHA’s General Duty Clause, making it harder to fine an organization for each specific infringement. Officially termed Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the clause states that:

“Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

For perspective, in 2018, only 1.5% of 61,000+ such violations fell under General Duty guidelines. Given the potential number of OSHA violations for COVID-19, this hardly qualifies the clause as a standard safety regulation for a widespread pandemic.

In fact, since the coronavirus first took hold in the U.S., OSHA has cited only 37 establishments across the country for violations, resulting in (proposed) penalties totaling $484,069.

All things considered, these numbers seem oddly low to me. Looking back on the last six months, I would expect the volume of cited violations to be greater and fines to be in the millions. I say this because organizations like hospitals, grocery stores, and factories — where the chances for COVID safety violations are higher — have been among the most principal offenders.

Again for perspective, one company had almost 1,300 employees contract the virus, resulting in four deaths. Yet the fine they paid was relatively minimal because of the General Duty Clause from OSHA.

As we continue trying to get back to normal, I’m interested to see how OSHA handles coronavirus regulations, violations and fines going forward. Whether it be a heightened emphasis on worker safety, more fines, or other enforcement methods, I plan to follow this story and revisit the issue in the next couple months.

While we always say what’s good for business is good for the environment, there’s a twist this time. I’ll put it this way:

For employees returning to the workplace amidst this unending pandemic, what’s good for their safety is good for the business.

For as long as Encamp helps businesses manage environmental, health, and safety (EHS) regulations and EHS compliance reporting, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be central to what we do.

Therefore in honoring Black History Month, it’s only appropriate that we recognize Lisa Perez Jackson, the first Black administrator in the EPA’s history. The Environmental Protection Agency was created in December 1970. Jackson led the agency from 2009 to 2013.

According to her profile on the EPA’s online archives, Jackson was born in 1962 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but was raised as a “proud resident” of New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Tulane University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. Jackson also holds a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University. In 2012, she received an honorary doctorate degree from Tulane and was also later awarded an honorary law degree from Pace Law School.

Storied career in the environmental sector

Soon after joining the EPA as a staff-level engineer in 1987, Jackson moved to the EPA’s regional office in New York City, where she spent the majority of her 16-year EPA career. In 2002, she joined the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as the assistant commissioner of Compliance and Enforcement and assistant commissioner for Land Use Management. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine appointed Jackson the state’s commissioner of Environmental Protection in 2006. She also briefly served as Corzine’s chief of staff in late 2008.

In December 2008, president-elect Barack Obama nominated Jackson to serve as administrator of the EPA. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 23, 2009 and took office that same day.

Significant accomplishments at the EPA

During her 4-year tenure as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson focused on seven priorities for the agency’s future. Those priorities included addressing climate change; improving air quality; cleaning up communities; protecting America’s waters; assuring the safety of chemicals; expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice; and building stronger state and tribal partnerships.

Now several years later, Jackson’s emphasis on chemical safety, cleaner communities, and state and tribal partnerships while she led the EPA continues to impact the EHS compliance and reporting efforts of businesses throughout the U.S.

In December 2009, Jackson announced an endangerment finding on greenhouse gases, setting the stage for more aggressive EPA action on climate change. Under her leadership, the agency issued clean air standards designed to reduce emissions from large facilities without burdening small businesses, amending the National Ambient Air Quality Standards to set stricter smog pollution limits as part of the EPA’s clean air initiatives.

Jackson similarly outlined the principles to modernize the country’s then 30-year-old chemical management laws, many of which were updated and remain in effect for EHS compliance reporting today. Also under Jackson, the EPA introduced its clean cars program in collaboration with the Department of Transportation and the auto industry to make American vehicles more fuel-efficient.

Jackson additionally authorized the recognition of carbon dioxide as a public health threat, granting the EPA authority to set new regulations regarding CO2 emissions.

In response to the economic downturn in 2009, Jackson led the EPA’s efforts to invest in job-creating environmental protection projects across the country. The investments led to cleaner communities that were in the race to attract jobs at the time, while also encouraging the development and use of innovative environmental technologies.

As the first Black person to serve as EPA administrator, Jackson further made it a priority to expand outreach to communities that were historically under-represented in environmental action. The EPA stepped up protection for vulnerable groups including children, the elderly, and low-income communities that were particularly susceptible to environmental and health threats.

Highly recognized

While she was the EPA’s administrator, Jackson was named one of Newsweek’s “Most Important People in 2010,” and was featured on Time magazine’s 2010 and 2011 lists of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” She also was listed in Essence magazine’s “40 Women Who Have Influenced the World,” and profiled in Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine for her work to protect the nation’s air, water and land from pollution that threatens human health.

In December 2012, Jackson announced she would step down as EPA administrator, ultimately leaving the agency in February 2013.

Today, Jackson is Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. In that role, she oversees Apple’s efforts to minimize its impact on the environment by addressing climate change through renewable energy and energy efficiency, using greener materials and inventing new ways to conserve precious resources. She is also responsible for Apple’s education policy programs, its product accessibility work, and its worldwide government affairs function.

She additionally serves on the boards of Tulane University, SF Film, Conservation International, and Emily’s List.

For Black History Month and beyond, Lisa Perez Jackson remains one of the most influential Black leaders in the environmental sector.

Consulting firms for Tier II reporting and environmental compliance do important work. And they do it well. But there are certain aspects of the Tier II process that Encamp excels at over consultants and the EHS software and point systems they typically use.

First, Encamp’s modern software platform for environmental compliance lets you align business and environmental incentives across your organization. You equip all members of your team with a single, end-to-end compliance management solution instead of relying on multiple consultants. Then, with our platform’s EPCRA module, you simplify Section 312 compliance and Tier II reporting by making data more visible and automating the report preparation process.

With the Encamp platform doing the work consultants do, you bring Tier II reporting in house and make it faster, easier and more accurate.

A sound decision

Imagine, an EPCRA solution designed to make Tier II reporting easy and efficient, and to put you in control. In house, Encamp’s integrated platform eliminates data silos and non-standardized processes throughout your organization. It also gives your company a single pane of glass to manage each facet of Tier II reporting — threshold checks, data reviews, and monitoring every task and its progress.

Better, you’re no longer on a consultant’s schedule. You’re able to manage EPCRA compliance year round and say farewell to annual fire drills for 312 reporting or missed 302 notifications.

These capabilities alone make bringing Tier II reporting in house a sound decision. But here a few more details that make the move a no-brainer — things not all consultants and EHS software or point systems can do.

(Quick disclosure. Encamp’s Partner Ecosystem equips consulting firms with our platform for their Tier II reporting services. So if you still need consulting help, look to one of Encamp’s partners and you’ll get the same effective reporting outcomes.)

Simplify Tier II reporting preparation

Forget navigating through upwards of 50 different state systems to submit Tier II reports. The Encamp platform lets environmental compliance teams orchestrate reporting using a single dashboard. Encamp then makes your submissions for you. Every person involved in the Tier II process uses the same dashboard and its reporting and tracking tools.

For each facility you have to report on, the Encamp platform and dashboard sync with state portals to:

Full view of Tier II reporting activities

With the Tier II dashboard, program managers, directors, EHS specialists, and corporate leaders all view every activity by facility: Reporting task percentage until completion; Number of days to deadline; Facilities that have already filed reports and ones that still need to start the process.

The dashboard further includes a built-in knowledgebase and videos to answer questions, verify details for Tier II requirements, and provide Tier II tips & tricks. And no matter the user level, its intuitive interface speeds user adoption and keeps training to a minimum.

Integrated workflow and calculations for thresholds

For workflow, get state fields from the EPA, NOAA, and all 50 states before fields are made available in public state portals. The intuitive Tier II dashboard makes any workflow easy for all users to understand, including alerts and reminders for assigned tasks in each facility.

For calculations, confirm all threshold planning quantities (TPQs) for a state level, including extremely hazardous substances (EHSs). Encamp automatically selects if you’re under a reporting threshold for a given chemical or even an entire facility.

Automated record keeping

Automatically store the final Tier II report copy, records of payment, and an audit log for each facility in Encamp’s digital filing cabinet. Your filing cabinet organizes documents by default, so everything is captured. This keeps your reporting records in house and under your control, rather than “on file” with a consulting firm.

Control your EPCRA compliance

Along with submitting Tier II reports accurately and on time, here are more benefits of moving the Tier II reporting process in house with Encamp.

We’re with you every step of the way

No matter your Tier II reporting volume, we’re with you from onboarding through ongoing support. Start with an account review by our environmental compliance experts. After that, have a 30-minute onboarding call to get you started. Our team also works with yours to import your data into Encamp.

Also get going in days and realize time to value quickly. Encamp deploys via the cloud, meaning there’s no software or hardware to install or months-long implementation.

Start with a demo

Arrange a demo and interactive walkthrough to see the Encamp platform and our EPCRA module in action.

Since 2016, Jennifer has served as Pollution Prevention and Compliance Assistance Manager for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). She was previously Supervisor of IDEM’s Air Compliance Branch; Branch Chief, Pollution Prevention and Recycling at IDEM; and Administrator of the Bureau of Environmental Services for the City of Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. She is a graduate of Indiana University, where she earned her B.S. in Public Affairs with a focus in Environmental Science.

You’ve spent more than 20 years in the EHS realm. Any pointers for other women? “One thing women should do is own their own skills…. Make yourself invaluable to the people around you.”

Experience speaks volumes. Watch Jennifer’s video to hear what else her experience has to say.

Sarah started her career in EHS in 2017 as an Assurance Technician and Assurance Intern for Belmark, where she’s now a full-time Quality Assurance Compliance Specialist. She earned her B.S. in Environmental Science (and Spanish) from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and is currently working on a Masters’ degree in Environmental Geology from the University of Kansas.

Words of wisdom for other women just starting in the EHS field? ““Be confident in yourself and your work. Eventually all your hard work is going to pay off.”

Watch Sarah’s entire interview to hear how she started in EHS, and where she wants to go.

Julie Mouton is a dedicated environmental engineer and sustainability practitioner with more than 15 years of experience supporting clients in the food & beverage, technology, oil & gas, retail, and mining industries. She specializes in water stewardship, corporate ESG strategy, operational risk assessment, environmental liability management, and environmental compliance. She lives with her husband and two children in the greater Austin area and enjoys hiking, camping, gardening, water and snow skiing.

How have you gotten to where you want to be on your EHS career path? “I listened to my inner voice and intuition, and just kept going on the path I knew was right for me.”

Julie has more to say about her rise in the EHS ranks. Watch her video to hear how she’s done it.

It’s weird to think of the cannabis industry in the U.S. as a thriving commercial market. Yet it is. Led by the likes of Colorado and California, 10 states thus far have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 33 now permit it for medicinal use. And get this. As a business sector in our country, cannabis generates billions of dollars in revenue and jobs — with no signs of letting up.

But from an environmental perspective, the industry’s emergence is spurring some important questions, such as:

What are the environmental impacts of growing marijuana? Are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions influencing ozone formation? How is the industry being regulated at state and local levels?

As an Environmental Protection Specialist for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Kaitlin Urso has been a pioneer in developing a sustainability blueprint for the cannabis industry. She was even featured in a recent Forbes article on the topic. So when Kaitlin joined us for our latest Campfire Session video, she offered some unique insights on the industry’s environmental impacts, social impacts, and the new regulatory efforts she’s been spearheading.

“Despite people’s opinions on marijuana or cannabis or hemp, it’s a large industry sector here in Colorado. We have more marijuana businesses than we do 7-Elevens, McDonald’s and Starbucks combined.”

Here are a few excerpts from our discussion (edited for conciseness)…

How are you helping the cannabis industry reduce their environmental footprint?

Part of my role at the CDPHE is to be a free environmental consultant for all small businesses in Colorado. I just happen to specialize in helping cannabis operations and craft breweries reduce their environmental impact, so I help both industries understand what those impacts are and what best management practices they can employ to reduce them. I also provide compliance coaching.

What are the major environmental impacts of the cannabis cultivation in processing?

It depends on if you’re an indoor or outdoor grower. In Colorado, marijuana is grown primarily indoors, so the major environmental impact is energy use for artificial lights and HVAC systems. The second largest impact of indoor cultivations is the sheer amount of plant waste. In an outdoor setting, the impacts shift more to land impacts for soil and water. Where is your water coming from and are you disturbing the ecology of the area by diverting that water to your cultivation? Also with runoff of that water, are pesticides in it? Increased nutrients? Those kinds of things.

A bulk of the information you’ve been studying is air quality and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and emissions. Talk about the air quality study you’ve been working on.

Two questions we’re trying to answer with this research are: How many pounds of VOCs are there per pound of marijuana, and then what’s the resulting influence on ozone formation? When it comes to VOCs, odor does not always equate to concentration. In marijuana, there’s a really high odor, but a very low level of VOC concentration if you actually get to it at the concentration level. Because it’s such a low concentration, it has very little impact on ozone formation in our urban environment. So we’re not necessarily worried about the VOC concentrations that influence ozone. We’re more concerned about odor ordinances and treating that nuisance odor.

What are the next regulatory steps for the cannabis industry in Colorado?

Marijuana is already highly regulated in Colorado. But I’m really proud of our marijuana enforcement division and that this year we had a sustainability rule-making hearing where we looked at our rules. We said, okay, now that we’re a mature market and we have a lot of lessons learned, how can we keep our top priorities of safety and security and add in a layer of environmental sustainability? How can we become more environmentally efficient with maintaining our top regulatory priorities? Our 50-50 waste mixing rule was ideal for that. (The rule requires marijuana plant waste leaving a facility to be mixed 50-50 with non-marijuana organic waste to reduce the cannabis waste footprint.)

With new rules taking effect in January 2021, we allowed for more exemptions from the existing 50-50 waste mixing rule to bring the landfill footprint down and give cannabis marijuana operators a more viable alternative. So we’re addressing plant waste, and then also (marijuana) packaging waste. Our packaging footprint is driven by child resistant packaging standards, including multiple layers of packaging to keep the marijuana product safe from youth.

We’ll be doing stakeholder outreach to educate the cannabis companies on rules changes, help them with implementation, and even coaching. “Now that we have these new regulations, how do I participate in them?”

I’m excited that Colorado is not being stagnant in its leadership of the cannabis industry. The industry is continuing to evolve, and we’re constantly looking at our market and saying, what can we do better not only for the environment but for our citizens, for our community, and for the cannabis businesses themselves. You know, anything we can do to support this industry.

Thanks to Kaitlin for explaining the environmental side the cannabis industry. Watch this Campfire Sessions episode to get the full story.

Check out our previous Campfire Session episodes, too.

Mercury, formaldehyde, long chain parabens, and PFAS aren’t chemicals you’d expect to come in contact with every day. Especially direct contact. Chemicals like these, after all, are strong enough to embalm a body.

But what if I told you certain brands of make-up, face wash, personal care products, and cosmetics are indeed made with toxic chemicals like these. Yes, federal safety rules are in place to govern such chemicals in personal care products. Yet as mind boggling as it seems, the rules haven’t been updated in 80 years!

It’s a bizarre dynamic, and to help dissect it, my colleague and fellow Encamper Julie Ragains joined in on this particular EHS Moment discussion. Julie is a Solutions Engineer at Encamp, and we did a short Q&A to get her perspective.

I’ve summarized her thoughts here, although you can catch our full discussion in our EHS Moment video. 

Q: You have a passion for seeking out natural and organic personal care products and cosmetics. Why is the topic important to you? 

A: I started doing research and found that many of the ingredients in the products I use were endocrine disrupting chemicals and highly toxic. I’ve always cared about the ingredients in my food, and decided I needed to take the same approach to the personal care products I use in my everyday life as well. 

Q: What now? Are states and governments making any progress in what chemicals can and can’t be used in cosmetics? 

A: As you mentioned, the regulations governing this industry haven’t changed in 80 years. At a federal level, the Personal Care Products Safety Act has been introduced to protect consumer health and strengthen the FDA’s efforts to regulate ingredients in personal care products. And at the state level, California recently signed a bill that will ban the use of 24 toxic chemicals in personal care products. This is huge! 

Q: What else have you learned from your research? 

A: What stood out most to me is how aggressively these dangerous products are marketed to Black women and how much the problem disproportionately affects them. Black women who dye their hair using these kinds of products, for instance, are 60% more likely to develop breast cancer. This statistic is incredibly alarming. (Actor and comedian Chris Rock made a documentary in 2009 on this very topic. Ironically, the documentary is titled Good Hair.) 

Q: What natural and organic brands are you using? 

A: FoxBrim Naturals is an awesome, affordable skincare product available on Amazon. Nubian Heritage is another one — the best lotion ever with some amazing scents! — which I get at my grocery store. Still another super affordable skincare option is Cocokind, whose products have five ingredients or less. And Honest Beauty cosmetics, which were founded by Jessica Alba, can be found at Target or online. These products work just as well as traditional makeup without all the junk.

Thankfully, other major personal care brands are making similar progress on their own. Covergirl, for example, recently came out with a line of Clean Fresh cosmetics that are free of parabens, formaldehydes, sulfates, talc, etc. It’s really good to see a brand that’s so accessible take this step.

As we see more awareness around this issue, I’d expect to see industry take the lead on this. The consumer wants what the consumer wants! They just don’t want their personal care products to be full of toxic chemicals.

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