The TCEQ uses technical assistance, education, and pollution prevention programs to encourage environmental improvements. The Small Business and Environmental Assistance Division has steered many of these programs to better focus on agency priorities and to align more closely with agency regulatory systems.
In fiscal 2011 and 2012, the agency provided direct compliance assistance to about 11,100 small businesses and local governments; of those, 758 received one-on-one assistance at their business or facility site.
Also, almost 400 small businesses and local governments took advantage of the Compliance Commitment Program. This program allows participants to undergo a site visit, during which a consultant contracted by the TCEQ uses a checklist to identify environmental compliance problems. After the visit, the businesses and facilities receive recommended actions they can take to resolve those problems. They must correct deficiencies within six months to be eligible for a compliance-commitment certificate.
Forty-four percent of Compliance Commitment Program participants achieved full environmental compliance with the applicable industry checklist. Upon successful completion of the program, businesses receive a certificate and an exemption of up to two years from routine investigations by the agency and partners, such as the EPA and local environmental-enforcement authorities.
Moreover, the program allows small businesses and local governments to achieve compliance voluntarily, confidentially, and without fear of enforcement. Site visits do not lead to an investigation or citation, unless there is an imminent threat to human health or the environment. Many times, participants find they save money by improving the efficiency of their processes and reducing paperwork.
In fiscal 2012, the agency conducted eight drought emergency-planning workshops across the state for local government officials, board members, and water-system operators. These workshops, which reached more than 500 attendees, offered information and tools to prevent or mitigate water outages.
For larger organizations, the TCEQ offered technical advice on innovative approaches for improving environmental performance through pollution prevention planning.
These efforts resulted in reductions of hazardous waste by more than 516,000 tons and toxic chemicals by about 52,700 tons during fiscal years 2011-2012.
Renewing Old and Surplus Materials
Texas established the Resource Exchange Network for Eliminating Waste (RENEW) in 1988 to promote the reuse or recycling of industrial waste.
The materials-exchange network has assisted in the trading of millions of pounds of materials, including plastic, wood, and laboratory chemicals. These exchanges divert materials from landfills and help participants reduce waste-disposal costs and receive money for their surplus materials.
RENEW is a free, easy-to-use service. Listings are grouped under “Materials Available” for anyone offering raw materials to other facilities, and “Materials Wanted” for anyone looking to find raw materials.
Through the website www.renewtx.org, these entities list and promote information on materials-exchange opportunities at a national and regional level.
During the last two years, an additional 292 users signed up to use RENEW, and 366 new listings were posted.
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