The Industrial Resources Council's mission is to encourage and promote the reuse of high volume industrial material streams in a sustainable manner -- meaning that the reuse options are environmentally safe, make economic sense, and perform as well as, or better than, conventionally used materials. In most cases, IRC materials replace or all or a portion of virgin materials, with resulting savings in energy, extraction, and transportation costs.
One of the ways in which the IRC provides technical assistance and training is to co-sponsor a variety of Sustainable Material Forums with a range of partners, including Federal and state agencies, market development groups, universities, and businesses. The Sustainable Material Forums are molded in the legacy of EPA's former Beneficial Use Summits, which provided an opportunity for generators, end users, researchers and regulators to interact in a non-regulatory environment, trade ideas, and learn from each other. IRC's Sustainable Material Forums are typically divided into two types, based on the prospective end use applications. Our Roadway and Construction Applications workshops provide information on the use of IRC materials as construction materials, with an emphasis on their positive impacts on infrastructure projects. Our Soils and Agricultural Applications forums provide information on iRC materials used in both traditional agriculture and horticulture, as well as in other soils-related applications such as urban soil blending, mulches and composts.
ROADWAY & CONSTRUCTION APPLICATIONS
Many industrial resource materials can be reused in roadway and construction projects to lower costs and enhance performance while minimizing the environmental impacts from mining and transporting traditional construction materials. In each part of a construction project -- stabilizing subsoils, bases, pavement courses, embankments, fills, vegetated swales and erosion controls -- there are proven uses for a wide variety of recycled and reused industrial materials. Most highway engineers are familiar with the use of Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP) in asphalt paving courses and of Coal Fly Ash in concrete admixtures. Other high volume industrial materials with excellent engineering properties include Recycled Concrete Aggregate, Coal Bottom Ash, Steel Slags, Tire-derived Rubber, Asphalt Shingles, Foundry Sands and Slags, and Composts and Mulches from Pulp & Paper Residuals. Reusing these materials where appropriate can help project owners and contractors achieve their Sustainability Goals as well as comply with Federal and state recycling guidelines.
To assist state and local highway agencies, contractors, design engineers and other interested parties to increase their use of sustainable industrial resource materials, the IRC co-sponsors regional sustainable roadways workshops. The agenda for each workshop is developed in conjunction with the host state agency, based on regional availability of materials and the agency's experience with using the IRC suite of materials. Each workshop opens with the host state agency describing their experience with using recycled and industrial resource materials, along with a representative from the FHWA division office describing FHWA's recycling policy and goals. A presentation by the IRC introduces the Industrial Materials Matrix, as well as other tools and resources for engineers and contractors to help match locally available materials to roadway applications. Case studies and other technical presentations focus on the practical knowledge needed to increase the use of each target materials. Industry representatives are present to provide information on local availability of target materials. The roundtable discussions identify barriers and knowledge gaps as well as opportunities for future technology transfer.
SOILS AND AGRICULTURAL APPLICATIONS
A number of materials generated by the IRC member industries have been shown to have value as alternative soil amendments, soil blending ingredients, or landscaping components. These materials include pulp and paper industry manufacturing residuals, FGD gypsum, steel furnace slags, foundry sands, recovered wallboard, and scrap tire rubber products. In most states, the addition of mineral components as liming agents or fertilizers is regulated by the state Department of Agriculture. The land application of organic materials may be regulated by the environmental agency or by the Department of Agriculture, depending on the state and its regulations. Other uses such as mine or urban soils reclamation, composting and soil blending are generally regulated by the state environmental agency. The objective of our Soils Forums is to encourage additional use of IRC materials as well as to identify additional opportunities for education and technology transfer.
A Soils Forum is typically co-sponsored by a state's land grant university, which often houses the state agricultural extension service. These forums combine plenary sessions, target material research presentations, case studies and roundtable discussions. The plenary sessions address some of the overarching issues of sustainability and beneficial use, and often involve state regulators discussing pathways to regulatory approvals where needed. Most Soils Forums have two tracks. One track is devoted primarily to uses of the target materials in traditional farm-based agricultural settings, where materials are typically land applied or add organic matter or mineral components to improve soil quality. The second track focuses on reuse of materials in soil blending for applications such as urban land reclamation, rain gardens and swales; horticultural and potting soils; and landscaping applications such as composts and mulches. Roundtable discussions allow all of the attendees to interact and share their questions, challenges and opportunities.
Please contact the IRC if your agency or organization is interested in partnering with the IRC on a Sustainable Materials forum or workshop.