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Project XL Logo

Molex Incorporated

Fact Sheet

United States Office of the EPA-100-F-98-014
Environmental Protection Administrator
July 1998
Agency (Mail Code 18021 (https://www.epa.gov)

EPA Project XL:
Molex Incorporated
Office Of Reinvention


Project XL, which stands for "excellence and Leadership," is a national initiative that tests innovative ways of achieving better and more cost-effective public health and environmental protection. The information and lessons learned from Project XL will be used to assist EPA in redesigning its current regulatory and policy-setting approaches. Project XL encourages testing of cleaner, cheaper, and -smarter ways to attain environmental results superior to those achieved under current regulations and policies, in conjunction with greater accountability to stakeholders. Project XL has committed to a goal of 50 pilot projects. Because of it's limited scope, it is vital that each project tests new ideas with the potential for wide application and broad environmental benefits. As of August 1998, nine pilot experiments are being implemented and twenty additional projects are currently being developed.

Molex Incorporated (Molex) is a multinational company that operates several electroplating facilities worldwide. Molex's project is based on the upgrade of the wastewater treatment facility at its Lincoln, Nebraska facility, The upgrade allows the facility to optimize the recovery of metals used in electroplating processes. Molex generates several metals-bearing wastewater streams that traditionally were brought together for combined treatment. Metal recovery in such a combined system is limited because each metal has its own optimal set of treatment conditions. Molex has changed its process lines to generate separate (segregated) treatment sludges for nickel, copper, and tin/lead as the primary component of its product, resulting in reductions in the amount of metals entering the city's publicly owned treatment works (POTVV). In addition, the resultant single metal sludges are commodity-like materials suitable for recycling by smelters. The Final Project Agreement was signed by the company on August 6, 1998.

The implementation of Molex's project protects the environment by reducing the amount of metals released to the POTW by at least 50 percent. In addition, the pure sludge generated does not require disposal, and will be sold directly to processors.

Molex's wastewater sludges are currently listed as hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RORA), Molex seeks to remove these sludges from regulation under RCRA through a, State issued temporary variance, This variance will involve removing the waste from the list of regulated wastes, on the condition that the sludges be sent directly to a recycler. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, the implementing agency for this project,will issue a temporary variance to classify Molex's nickel, copper, and tin/lead non-precious metal-containing sludges as solid waste. Molex made its investment in the new segregated system in anticipation of its participation in the XL program and the regulatory relief it will provide. The segregated system costs more to operate than a combined treatment system. Additionally, the segregated system will result in increased costs from compliance with the current regulations for handling the resultant sludges. The regulatory flexibility provided by this XL project helps Molex financially justify operation of the segregated system. Molex will also save on paperwork transactions and their recycling transactions should be easier.

Can alternative regulatory approaches tip the economic scales in favor of recycling by tailoring regulatory requirements to the specific circumstances of the facility and the waste?

David Doyle, Region 7, 913-551-7667

Walter Walsh, 202-260-2770

Bill Gidley (Nebraska), 402-471-4217
Brian Gorman (Nebraska), 402-471-4253
Annette Kovar (Nebraska), 402-471-3585

Paul Eckerson , 402-475-1700

More information about Project XL is available on the Internet at hftp://www.epa,gov/ProjectXL, via Project XL's fax-on-demand line at 202-260-8590, or via Project XL's Information Line at 703-934-3239

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