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Ecosystems Research

Research in Action

Safe, Sustainable Practices to Beneficially Reuse Materials and Wastes

Issue

Re-using (or re-purposing) materials safely to reduce or eliminate waste streams is a priority for EPA. Beneficial reuse of industrial byproducts can positively impact the environment by preserving limited landfill space that otherwise would be consumed by normal disposal of industrial byproducts and reducing the demand for virgin materials thereby preserving natural resources. Re-use can also conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the need for energy-intensive manufacture of new products or extraction of new materials to fulfill the same end uses. Another goal of re-use is to find sustainable solutions to manage hazardous and other waste materials. Learn more...

Action

EPA scientists in the Athens, Ga., laboratory are analyzing potential pollutant exposures from industrial waste by assessing human and ecosystem exposure during their treatment, storage and disposal, and also when these materials are reused in products. Using complex mathematical modeling systems, the scientists are studying the transport of potentially hazardous pollutants during their lifecycle to soil, water and air to assess how industrial byproduct reuse affects human and ecological exposure.

Results/Impact

From an economic perspective, costly disposal of waste byproducts can be avoided to the extent that waste streams can be diverted into useful and safe products. By providing tools for reusing materials in a safe manner that is protective of human and ecosystem health, EPA is helping change the way our society protects the environment and conserves resources for future generations.

Technical Contact:Justin Babendreier

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