NPE '18: US air permitting still necessary for plastic makers despite EPA deregulation trend

Source: ICIS News


ORLANDO (ICIS)--Despite the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent moves towards deregulation, permitting for air pollution control remains an integral part of plastics manufacturing, US-based Ship & Shore Environmental said on Thursday. The company makes air pollution control equipment.

“There has been a worry that regulations might get relaxed,” company sales representative James Kuzara said on the sidelines of this year's National Plastics Exposition (NPE). “But we really haven’t seen any changes that way. On the flip-side, we’re not seeing regulations getting tighter right now.”

He noted that the Clean Air Act (CAA) is the basis for air pollution control equipment manufacturers, with attainment status being an additional factor.

“If you’re in a big urban area, those tend to be non-attainment,” he said as an example. “If you build a plant and emit solvents in an attainment area, you get a little more leeway."

Under the CAA, the EPA developed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six pollutants:

-Sulfur dioxide (SO2) -Particle pollution (particulate matter) -Carbon monoxide (CO) -Ozone -Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) -Lead

Kuzara said that although their equipment is mandatory for permitting, companies generally install it as an afterthought.

“To be honest, they’re not looking to add our equipment,” Kuzara said. “We’re not making the product any shinier. We’re not improving production, we’re not making it any more durable.”

Ship and Shore Environmental primarily offers thermal oxidizers, which incinerate hasardous air pollutants (HAPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOC).

Though the equipment tends to be costly, it’s also energy efficient, which Kuzara said can lead to $100,000-$150,000 rebates from gas and electric utility companies.

“Maybe 20 years ago customers would look at capital costs,” he said. “Nowadays people really need to look at destruction efficiency performance as part of their permitting requirements, but also energy recovery and energy savings from the process itself.”

The equipment can also provide other benefits to a facility, he noted.

“We’re looking upstream and downstream our equipment,” he said. “That’s materialised in heat recovery aspects. We can provide hot air into a facility. Hot water. Steam. Generally everybody needs steam.”

Kuzara said most companies have gravitated towards energy efficiency over the years because of the ability to recover money.

“The sustainability end is a pretty fine line to where it’s cost effective. We have a lot of small to mid-sized companies that ask about it. In some cases it’s difficult.”

Sponsored by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), NPE2018: The Plastics Show takes place on 7-11 May in Orlando, Florida.

Interview article by David Haydon