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2015 Champions Recognized at State House Ceremony

June 16, 2015, Boston, Mass. -- State legislators joined the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) program today to present the 2015 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Awards that recognize outstanding leaders who are making the Commonwealth a safer place to live and work.

"These leaders are models for others in the Commonwealth and the nation for finding innovative solutions that reduce toxic chemical use at the source," says Michael Ellenbecker, director of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell. "They prove that protecting the environment, health and safety can promote economic growth."

The 2015 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction are:

TURA 25th Anniversary Leaders

In recognition of environmental and business leadership, the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) program named nine companies and two small business groups as TURA 25th Anniversary Leaders. The award recognizes companies that have reduced toxic chemical use, created healthier work environments and saved money. The TURA 25th Anniversary Leaders are:

  • Allston Collision Center, Allston
  • Analog Devices, Inc., Wilmington
  • ChemGenes Corporation, Wilmington
  • Columbia Manufacturing, Inc., Westfield
  • Franklin Paint Company, Franklin
  • Independent Plating, Inc., Worcester
  • Ophir Optics LLC, North Andover
  • Shawmut Corp., West Bridgewater
  • Stainless Steel Coatings, Inc., Lancaster
  • Vida Verde Women's Cooperative of the Brazilian Women's Group, Brighton
  • Professional Wet Cleaning Workgroup (9 dry cleaners)

Read about each organization’s accomplishments.

Small Business Champion

J&P Cleaners in Jamaica Plain switched its dry cleaning operation from using perchloroethylene (perc) to professional wet cleaning with the help of a TURI grant. The owners welcomed the public to its grand opening in the summer of 2014. In May of 2015, the small family-owned business demonstrated the safer technology to other Massachusetts dry cleaners to encourage them to eliminate the use of perc, a ‘likely human carcinogen’ as characterized by the Environment Protection Agency. A water-based system, professional wet cleaning uses computer-controlled equipment to gently wash, dry, and then finish previously dry-cleaned clothes, eliminating the use of the solvent perc.

Toxics Use Reduction Planner Champions

Ed Gomes has been a Toxics Use Reduction Planner from the beginning of the TURA program 25 years ago. At Tri-Star electronics in the 1990’s through his recent work at Vicor Corporation, he has led many groundbreaking pollution prevention and toxics use reduction projects. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, Ed takes a creative yet pragmatic approach, always finding ways to reduce toxics and save money. Early on, he recognized the potential for using the toxics use reduction planning process to find opportunities for energy and water conservation, then assisted the TURA program in spreading that approach with the 2006 TURA Amendments. He willingly shares his results and techniques bringing real-world experience to the TURA program. He provides guidance, trains other planers and participates in the TURA Advisory Committee.

Gary Nedelman of AlphaGary in Leominster is a long-time Toxics Use Reduction Planner who understands the big picture as well as the smaller details of the benefits of reducing toxic chemical use. More than a decade ago, he used that vision to raise awareness in his company and in industry sector of global chemical restrictions that were coming in the wire and cable industry. He gained the support of AlphaGary and led the way toward keeping Massachusetts businesses competitive, and safer, in a changing global environment. As a member of the TURA Advisory Committee, Gary has always shared his expertise and opinions. He sees both the business and toxics use reduction perspective and knows how to skillfully combine them to make the case for proactive change. His technical expertise in resins and plastics, his understanding of industry, and his thoughtful approach have contributed to making Massachusetts a safer place to live and work.

Dan Forsythe of Capaccio Environmental Engineering represents a new generation of Toxics Use Reduction Planners. Together with his Capaccio colleagues, Dan has worked with TURA 25th Anniversary Leader Analog Devices and other companies in the electronics and semiconductor industries on ways to reduce toxic chemical use. Dan serves his clients in maintaining Environmental Health and Safety programs, managing and auditing ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and compliance with a variety of environmental regulations including the Toxics Use Reduction Act. In addition to his one-on-one assistance to companies, Dan’s practical approach to environmental management, together with his detailed industry experience and engaging personal style have made him an especially effective trainer.

Community Champions

City of Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, “Transition of Public Land Management to Organic Land Care” Project. The project team developed a plan for the City to adopt organic land practices on six properties – Frederick Harris School grounds, Sweeny Playing Field at High School of Commerce, Forest Park Playing Field, Tree Top Park, Camp Wilder and the terrace at Mason Square. They conducted soil analyses, implemented management plans for pilot sites, developed bid specifications for materials and labor, created a program budget to implement organic land care practices and conducted training for staff, community groups and municipal partners in Northampton and Holyoke. The city plans to expand organic care practices to 50 school properties and 900 maintained acres of public land. 

Full Circle Earth Greenhouse and Farm, Beverly, “Healthy Communities Initiative: Reducing Pesticide Use through Practicing, Teaching” Project. Building upon last year’s project, the team empowered community citizens in Beverly and surrounding towns to reduce pesticide use. They taught organic land care principles through demonstrations, workshops and screening documentaries on the North Shore. The team built a composting pit at Long Hill Reservation in Beverly that is used to produce nutrient-rich compost tea, an organic lawn care liquid fertilizer amendment that is provided to businesses, public works departments and local communities. The public is able to drop off kitchen scraps and pick up compost tea for their gardens and yards. Partners include the Food Project, Beverly Farmers Market, Whole Foods in Lynnfield, Change is Simple and Henry’s Market in Beverly.

Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition, “Cancer-Free New Economy Jamaica Plain: Integrating Toxics Reduction Approaches with Sustainable Community Development” Project. The Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition worked with retail businesses in Jamaica Plain to pursue toxics use reduction strategies in the areas of cleaning and disinfecting, solvents and pesticide use. The project team developed and promoted municipal policies in Boston and other Massachusetts communities that advance toxics use reduction in dry cleaning and other retail establishments. This effort builds upon last year’s project that established the "Cancer Free New Economy," an initiative that helps businesses transition away from using carcinogens and other toxics to safer alternatives.

The Town of Hudson, “MetroWest Prevention & Wellness Partnership; Healthy Homes Initiative” Project. The Town of Hudson, in collaboration with Framingham, Marlborough and Northborough, aimed to reduce household asthma triggers in children by distributing household cleaning toolkits and materials to families. The information includes how toxics in traditional cleaning products can cause or trigger asthma and safer ways to clean, including recipes for making your own cleaners. The kit includes ingredients to use for making cleaners. The team made the information available in English, Spanish and Portuguese. They used their network in the Prevention Wellness Trust Fund as a means to distribute the information more broadly across Massachusetts, including Worcester, Barnstable, New Bedford, Boston, Holyoke and Lynn.

YWCA of Lowell, “Girls Going Green: Naturally Beautiful Green Cosmetics and Personal Care Products” Project. The Girls Going Green program at the YWCA of Lowell developed a series of interactive workshops for young people about safer beauty and personal care products. The project team of teen girls created an informational brochure that explains the toxins that can be found in commercially marketed make-up and personal care products and the benefits of using safer products. They also provided the tools and information for teens to create their own safer make-up and personal care products at home, and made sample products such as lip balm out of natural and safer ingredients.

Honoring Champions of Toxic Use Reduction