EPA, Industry Come Together in Visit to TTM Facility

By Kelly Scanlon, director, EHS policy and research

IPC member TTM Technologies is proud to show off the new wastewater-treatment system at its Sterling, Virginia plant, which is helping to enhance the company’s pollution prevention and resource recovery performance.

Last week, a group of staff members from the U.S. EPA’s Smart Sectors Program and Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention toured the Sterling site to see the new system and learn about printed circuit board fabrication. The visit, arranged by IPC, was designed to build relationships, improve mutual understanding, and reinforce our industry’s role as a trusted source of expertise on environmental leadership.

The Smart Sectors Program, located within EPA’s Office of Policy, serves as an ombudsman across program offices within the EPA. They provide a platform to collaborate with industry and develop sensible approaches to environmental regulation. The Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention implements the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and works to reduce waste and promote cleaner, safer workplaces, homes, and schools.

From IPC’s perspective, the visit was valuable because the electronics industry is involved in the Smart Sectors Program and is regulated under TSCA. The gathering even helped break down silos between the offices at EPA, which do not meet on a regular basis.

During a briefing and a walk around the facility, the attendees learned about TTM’s ongoing practices to minimize water use, minimize generation of hazardous wastes, and increase recycling. They also saw the wastewater-treatment ion-exchange (WWT-IX) system, which went online earlier this year, resulting in even cleaner wastewater and greater reclamation of valuable metals.

IPC has long advocated for streamlining data reporting requirements for PCB fabricators whose byproducts are recycled offsite, as is the case with TTM. IPC praised a recent EPA proposal to reduce such burdens but called for further refinements to achieve greater efficiencies.

Charles Nehrig, Director of Environmental, Health and Safety for TTM’s Aerospace & Defense Specialty Business Unit, said TTM sees its responsibility to provide accurate data to regulators as critical to its company-wide lean management system. As the visitors saw displayed in huge letters on the EHS wall of the facility’s “war room,” TTM prioritizes EHS activities and results and recognizes employees for their efforts to reduce EHS risks.

Nena Shaw, EPA Smart Sectors Program Director, said the site visit was “super helpful” in gaining “an on-the-ground understanding of the printed circuit board manufacturing processes as well as an improved understanding of specific issues such as metals byproducts reporting.”

Thanks again to our friends at TTM for hosting and at EPA for coming!

Does your company have a great story to tell? Let us know. IPC sponsors site visits for policymakers to build greater understanding of our industry and its challenges and opportunities.

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