||Established in 1994, the STrategic Envirotechnology Partnership (STEP) is a joint program between the University of Massachusetts (UMASS) and the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. STEP assists businesses with the development and promotion of innovative technology-based solutions to environmental problems in the Commonwealth.
UMASS campuses and research centers and EOEA agencies are working together to address the environmental needs of Massachusetts' citizens through research, education, and public service. Through multiple technology, business, and policy centers, the STEP partners work together to advance promising technologies and ventures through the many different stages of development, from an innovative idea to commercial use. By reducing the risk and uncertainty associated with bringing environmental technologies to market, STEP's activities increase the amount of private investment in technologies that protect the environment, foster a business and regulatory climate in which innovative environmental technologies can thrive, and stimulate the use of specific technologies to improve environmental protection and resource conservation.
The chart on the next page describes the role and function of various agencies and groups who work together to make STEP a success. In 2000 alone, 125 companies received some form of business, technical, or regulatory assistance from STEP. Case studies of STEP activities last year are presented in its latest Annual Report, available on the STEP website: http://stepsite.org. As a result of STEP's work, the Commonwealth has emerged as a national leader in the commercialization of environmental and renewable energy technologies.
Over the past twelve months, the MA Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) has significantly expanded the scope and range of its technology support services. Through a number of avenues, OTA is working to increase awareness and utilization of new pollution prevention technologies. As a STEP partner OTA reviews incoming research proposals and evaluates ongoing projects in coordination with each of the UMASS research facilities. Strategically positioned to help strengthen the relationship between academic research and the environmental needs of Massachusetts industry, OTA also submits new research topics to the STEP program based on prevalent environmental problems encountered in the field. OTA staff submitted 22 topics in the past year, four of which were selected for STEP support in Fiscal Year 2001:
-Alternatives for Lead-Based Heat Stabilizers in Chlorine Containing Polymers - multistage project designed to define role of lead oxide in wire/cable insulation and identify less-toxic alternatives;
-Alternatives for Cleaners (and Potentially for Coating Carrier Medium) in Coated and Laminated Substrate Manufacturing - investigation of less-toxic alternatives for clean up of adhesives and similar coatings;
-Lithographic Printing Blanket Wash - investigation of less-toxic alternative solvents for press clean up; and,
-Investigation of the Formation of Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds in the Combustion of Fossil Fuels - relevant to pending reductions in reporting thresholds for PACs, which are commonly found in No. 2 and No. 6 fuel oil and other fossil fuels.
In addition, UMASS researchers are developing pre-proposals for STEP funding based on several topics developed by OTA technical staff. OTA is also producing technical profiles of emerging environmental technologies, in order to help companies more easily evaluate their performance and relative appropriateness. The first such report is focused on the VRTX technology, a chemical-free method for removing scale deposits, algae, and slime from cooling tower water, which is produced by Stoneham-based A.W. Chesterton Company. OTA continues to serve as the Commonwealth's designated administrator for the US DOE NICE3 grant program. In January 2001, Bedford-based Brittany Dyeing and Printing Corporation received its second NICE3 award. Other Massachusetts companies OTA has helped successfully apply for NICE3 funding are Erving Paper and ThermoTrex Corporation. Grants to the three companies have totaled $1,700,000 since 1994. OTA is working with UMASS-Boston Professor John Warner to increase awareness, understanding and support of "green chemistry" approaches, which seek to mimic the sustainable, low-toxic, self-assembling characteristics of natural processes. This partnership sponsored the Massachusetts Green Chemistry Symposium held on April 6, 2001 at UMASS-Boston. The event catalyzed development of a Green Chemistry Consortium to coordinate government, industry and academic work in the field. A follow-up event focused on more specific, technical issues is being considered for the fall. Finally, OTA is working with EOEA and DEP officials to host events that draw attention to innovative and effective pollution prevention practices implemented at Massachusetts companies. In 2001, OTA and DEP co-hosted an event at Wilmington-based BOC Edwards recognizing their comprehensive set of improvements, including installation of a water reuse and waste recovery system developed by CASTion of Ludlow, MA. Similar events are planned at other facilities around the state. The agencies hope that increased attention on proven success stories will encourage interest in these new technologies. P2 technology promotion and diffusion has been a key component of the research, demonstration sites, and education & training programs of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMASS Lowell. In addition, TURI's Technology Transfer Center, which is used by researchers and others worldwide, houses New England's largest research library and clearinghouse for P2 information. The holdings of the TTC can be accessed either by visiting the recently expanded library at the UMASS Lowell campus, or by contacting the librarian at (978) 934-3390, Mary-Vidal@uml.edu.