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Innovative EPA Program to Enable Kodak to Produce Safer Chemicals

Release Date: 09/14/2000
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(#00164) New York, N.Y. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Rochester, New York-based Eastman Kodak Company today signed an agreement to promote Kodak’s Health and Environment Laboratories’ use of EPA-developed computerized pollution prevention tools to produce safer new chemical products. The agreement, part of EPA’s innovative Project XL program, would also give Kodak the flexibility to manufacture those lower-risk chemical products faster than if it did not use the EPA tools -- known as EPA’s Pollution Prevention framework – as long as the new chemicals meet with EPA’s approval. Kodak in turn will champion EPA’s Pollution Prevention framework to other major chemical manufacturers, in an effort to make them aware of the environmental and economic benefits of developing safer chemicals.

EPA’s Project XL (eXcellence and Leadership) is a national pilot program that allows state and local governments, businesses and federal facilities to develop innovative strategies with EPA to test better or more cost-effective ways of achieving environmental and public health protection. Including Kodak, EPA has signed 32 Project XL agreements to date.

"This project will further demonstrate what we have observed over the past several years of economic prosperity: that what is good for the environment can be very good for corporate America’s bottom line," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Regional Administrator. "As one of the nation’s leading chemical manufacturers, Kodak has an ongoing obligation to strictly adhere to all environmental regulations. By agreeing to undertake this pollution prevention initiative and to spread the word to its peers, Kodak has increased its environmental commitment. We are very pleased to count Kodak among our Project XL partners, and will be watching closely for benefits from this initiative that may potentially be applied nationwide."

Currently, companies seeking to manufacture or import a new chemical must first make EPA aware of the product and of any data available about the chemical’s potential risks by filing a "pre-manufacture notice" with the agency. EPA then has 90 days to decide whether to grant permission for the chemical to be manufactured or imported. EPA determines whether the chemical is a high or low risk substance early in the review process -- generally within the first 25 days. Even if EPA determines that the product is of low risk and drops it from any further review after 25 days, the company seeking approval must usually wait until the full 90-day period has passed before beginning importation or manufacture.

The Eastman Kodak Company registers about 15 to 20 new chemical substances with EPA each year. As part of its Project XL agreement with EPA, Kodak will use a series of pollution prevention computerized tools developed by the agency to screen chemicals while they are in the development stage. The tools consist of computer models that will provide essential information about proposed chemicals including their potential toxicity to wildlife, how humans might be exposed to them and whether they may cause certain health effects in humans. This information will give Kodak the ability to screen out chemicals that EPA might ultimately find to be problematic and develop safer chemicals instead. Once Kodak decides to submit a pre-manufacture notice to EPA for a particular lower-risk chemical, it will submit the computer model data as well. If after reviewing the data and applying its own standards, EPA finds the chemical to be low-risk and acceptable for manufacture, Kodak may be permitted to do so after only 45 days, giving the company an edge over competitors seeking to market similar chemical products.

As part of the XL agreement, Kodak will communicate with a number of chemical companies about its use of the pollution prevention tools and promote their use from both an environmental and economic standpoint. The Tellus Institute, a Boston-based economics consulting firm, will prepare a report on the cost benefits of integrating pollution prevention in industry (including reduced product development costs, reduced product liability and reduced time to market) and challenges industry may face in incorporating new tools.

The Kodak Project XL will last for three years, after which EPA and Kodak may agree to extend it. If the Kodak pilot project is deemed a success, the agency may make administrative changes that permit many more companies to use the pollution prevention tools to put their products on the fast track.