During a roundtable meeting with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) commended the progress the agency has made with their Smart Sectors program, while also calling for changes to its non-hazardous secondary materials (NHSM) policy. The cement industry is one of the 14 industries participating in the Smart Sectors program.

PCA Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs Charles Franklin explained during the meeting why reforming EPA’s NHSM policy – which governs when and how alternative fuels like paper, plastics, carpeting and tires can be used for energy recovery in cement kilns and other types of boilers and incinerators – is so important. 

“A robust alternative fuels policy supports many of the current administration’s key priorities, including energy security, fuel diversification, public health and environmental protection, economic development, and infrastructure investment,” explained Franklin. “Materials that would otherwise end up in landfills, illegal dumps or our nation’s waterways can offer great value as fuels for cement kilns. These kilns operate at temperatures that ensure highly efficient heat recovery, with emissions profiles similar to if not better than those of traditional fossil fuels.”

While many cement manufacturers already strive to use alternative fuels, they are often limited by federal regulations that deem such materials to be wastes. PCA, joined by several other supportive industries at the meeting, urged Wheeler and his team to work with the cement industry to review current regulatory policies, guidance and legal interpretations to identify suitable reforms. 

“When EPA launched Smart Sectors a year ago, we were cautiously optimistic that the new liaison program would encourage mutually beneficial engagement between regulators and regulated industries,” said PCA President and CEO Michael Ireland. “Since then, the program has exceeded our expectations. Smart Sectors staff have invested time to understand our industry’s unique challenges and have helped our members navigate EPA’s regulatory development and public engagement process.”

PCA and other industry associations have pledged to work with the Smart Sectors team and EPA program office to explore options for reforming EPA’s alternative fuels policy in the coming months.

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