The Mark Of Zero

The Official Blog of the Zero Waste Network

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Region 6 Focus: Hats Off to Local Green Companies

By Michelle Vattano, Pollution Prevention Coordinator, NMED

Typically when we think about dry cleaning, we think about the chemical smell when we first walk in the door, the chemical smell on our clothes after they’ve been dry-cleaned. I personally gave up dry-cleaning my clothes three years ago because I couldn’t’ stand the smell anymore. The chemical is perchloroethylene (PERC). This hazardous solvent can contaminate ground water, contribute to smog, and is a suspected carcinogen at sufficient high levels. While giving your clothes that dry-cleaner scent, PERC typically gives drycleaner staff headaches, skin irritations and other various health issues.. That seems so be changing nationwide. More and more dry cleaners are abandoning PERC and turning to more Earth-friendly cleansers. The nationwide demand for PERC, as it is known, has declined 82 percent from 1985 to 2002, according to the Textile Care Allied Trades Association; in Southern California, it has been banned altogether.

The New Mexico Environment Department’s Green Zia Environmental Excellence Program is a voluntary recognition program designed to recognize businesses that are reducing their environmental impacts and footprints. Last month One Hour GreenEarth Martinizing received the Commitment Level recognition for its’ environmental stewardship and overall process improvement. One Hour GreenEarth has been in business in Santa Fe and Albuquerque for 40 years, and Bruce Squires, owner and manager has taken a turn for an alternative method called silicon-based cleaning. This is a new technology that is just being introduced in some cleaning chain stores. This is a clear, odorless, non-toxic silicone-based solvent (known as a siloxane) rather than PERC. Accidental silicone solution spills decompose into sand, water and carbon dioxide and do not release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are deleterious to the ozone layer. The silicone cleaning solution does not require regulation under any of the hazardous waste laws and it does not present the health risks that PERC and other petroleum-based cleaning solvents pose. People with chemical sensitivities to dry cleaning are reported to be able to use the silicon-based Green Earth Cleaning system without problems. Hats off to One Hour GreenEarth Martinizing for their efforts to reduce their environmental impacts.

Other companies that received recognition are Hall Environmental Analysis Lab, Inc, of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Bandelier Trading Company and White Sands Trading Company.

To recognize your business or receive additional information on the New Mexico Environment Department Pollution Prevention Program contact Michelle Vattano at (505) 827-0677 or click on

UT Arlington selected as the Region 6 OSHA center

The Center for Enterprise Development at the University of Texas, Arlington has been selected as one of eight new OSHA Training Instituted Education Centers. CED was chosen based on and evaluation of their occupational safety and health experience, continuing training background, classroom and laboratory availability, and their ability to provide training throughout the region. OTI Education centers provide training courses on OSHA standards and occupational safety and health issues. Last year more than one half million people received training through this program.

The Division for Enterprise Development hosts several programs, including the Center for Environmental Excellence, which Zero Waste is a part of. To find out more visit

2007 P2 Workshops Wrap Up

Last fall, the Zero Waste Network teamed up with the TCEQ Pollution Prevention Planning Program to host a series of P2 workshops. Overall, 250 representatives from over 200 companies attended.

The yearly workshops benefit large and small companies, and are geared Attendees include plant managers, corporate environmental, health, and safety managers, production personnel, engineers, and related professionals. Attendees are given a packet with specific pollution prevention options and case studies for a company of their type. Companies use these customized packets to create their own Pollution Prevention Plan. Over the past two years attendees have reported reducing over 10,000 pounds of hazardous waste, reducing energy use and saving more than $250,000!

Zero Waste and TCEQ plan on teaming up again to host another round of P2 workshops in the fall of 2008. Look out for future workshop dates and find out more information about the workshops at and at

Monday, January 28, 2008

From Our Partners: Lean and Green Manufacturing

In 2008, the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC) began its 5th year of transforming organization to become both Lean and Clean. Companies are learning about the symbiotic relationship between cost-saving material management and environmental management systems. With a better understating on how to identify material wastes, recent workshop participants each identified typical savings of $71,800 to over $300,000. In addition, all found opportunities to reduce utility costs and solid waste impacts.

At the conclusion of the onsite projects attendees shared their thoughts.
“At first I doubted that someone who knew very little about our business could actually tell us how to do something better. I was wrong,” one business owner said.
“I was reminded to start using my brain again!” another said. “I have started to look at things in a new way.”
“Don’t be afraid to try this!” a group from central Texas said. “You will have no regrets.”

Implementing Lean and Clean-- Workshop Objectives:
  • Learn to see Lean opportunities for improvement and opportunities for savings in materials, energy, water and utility consumption, or pollution prevention/mitigation.
  • Understand the environmental performance implications and the connections to process improvement.
  • Introduction to strategies and tools to integrate environmental factors into lean initiatives bridging the gap for reducing and eliminating all forms of waste.

To find out more on lean manufacturing and P2 visit the lean manufacturing topic hub at

City of Austin takes on Zero Waste

The City of Austin has announced its plan to become a complete zero-waste city by 2040. Gary Liss of Gary Liss & Associates, was hired by the city to write a zero-waste plan. +

Zero-waste plans have an encompassing view of trash reduction, focusing less on recycling and more on prevention of waste production. The plan emphasizes the need to “Reduce and Reuse first, and then Recycle”. Three main waste streams are targeted: construction and demolition (which contributes to 1/3 of all landfill waste), organics, and traditional recyclables. The plan emphasizes the economic and job growth opportunities of a zero-waste plan.

A series of public and private meetings will be held in February and March to brainstorm ideas on how to reach zero-waste and to hear the public’s opinion on the topic. For more information about future hearing dates visit

The Zero Waste Network is leading and effort to develop an implementation project as part of EPA’s Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) program. This project will ensure that the Austin Zero Waste plan is implemented in an effective manner. If you are interested in participating please contact us at 512/904-2281.

  The Zero Waste Network is a program of the University of Texas at Arlington, Center for Environmental Excellence and the Division for Enterprise Development.  

The Zero Waste Network is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange P2Rx, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WRPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).