EPA Online Resources
Looking for information on common environmental issues that affect your concession operation? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has many resources online that can help you understand those complicated environmental regulations.
Most concession operations do not trigger air regulations, but in some cases a permit may be needed to manage the emissions from equipment like large generators. For information on the Clean Air Act and indoor air quality, click here.
If you store hazardous materials, there is a potential for those materials to spill. The good news is that you can prepare for potential releases and take steps to prevent them. Some proactive emergency reporting may be required for concessioners that store large amounts of hazardous materials. For example, if you store greater than or equal to 1,400 gallons of diesel or 1,600 gallons of gasoline, you must submit safety data sheets and a Tier II report for these chemicals to state and local authorities. For more information about emergency planning and spills of hazardous materials, click here.
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP)
Many concession operations have environmental purchasing requirements listed in their operating and maintenance plans, so those stipulations should be given priority. In general, concession staff should strive to purchase products that are less toxic, made with recycled content, made locally, delivered in less packaging, and easily recycled when they can no longer be used. To learn about existing environmental purchasing requirements for federal facilities like the National Park Service, and to find effective products that support the agency's goals, click here.
Hazardous Waste Management
Nearly every concession operation generates some amount of hazardous waste. Materials like oil-based paints, solvents, and contaminated motor oil are considered hazardous waste when they are no longer needed. If your concession operation generates less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month, you are considered a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) and have only a few requirements for managing hazardous waste, including 1) identifying whether or not wastes are hazardous, and 2) ensuring that hazardous wastes are disposed of by a qualified vendor. While not required, it is helpful to keep a log to record the amount of hazardous waste generated on a monthly basis to prove your generator status. Concession operations that generate more than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month will need to comply with additional requirements explained here.
The first line of defense against pests should always be to make behavioral changes and keep areas clean. Use of pesticides should be a last resort and must be approved by park staff through the Pesticide Use Proposal System. If pesticides are approved for use, staff should be trained on practices to handle, store, and dispose of pesticides appropriately. For information about how you can eradicate pests without using chemicals, as well as procedures to dispose of waste pesticides and containers appropriately, click here.
Solid Waste Management
With technologies progressing every day, there are always opportunities for source reduction and increased recycling. The tried and true concept of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" should be the foundation of any concession operation's solid waste program. Look for opportunities to reduce the amount of waste generated, reuse or donate materials that are not necessarily wastes, and recycle remaining materials whenever possible. For tips on how you can better manage solid waste at your concession operation, click here.
Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC)
Is your concession operation required to have an SPCC plan? SPCC regulations apply when a concession operation's capacity to store oil (including kitchen grease) is equal to or greater than 1,320 gallons stored in 55 gallon containers or larger. SPCC plans identify how the operation will manage fuel and prevent spills from occurring by regularly monitoring fuel storage. The plan includes an inventory of fuel storage containers, spill scenarios to help plan for the event of an incident, and a list of contacts and responsible parties for responding to a spill. To get more information about how to comply with SPCC regulations in a way that fits your concession operation, click here.
Universal Waste Management
Most concession operations generate universal waste, which is a subset of hazardous waste. Universal wastes include fluorescent lamps, batteries, mercury-containing equipment, and some pesticide wastes. CESQGs of hazardous waste are not required to manage universal wastes according to federal regulations, but it is a highly recommended practice to recycle universal wastes. In some cases, concession contracts require that universal wastes be managed according to federal regulations, so be sure to check whether or not this is specified in your contract. To learn about managing these wastes to prevent any impacts to the environment, click here.
Used Oil Management
If you maintain vehicles as part of your operation, then you probably generate some amount of used oil. Used oil containers should be labeled "used oil" and kept closed when not being actively used. If used oil is contaminated with a chemical or other waste, then it must be disposed of as hazardous waste. To learn about storage and management practices for used oil, click here.
Concessions may impact water resources in a number of ways. For example, construction activities that disturb over one acre of land require a permit to manage potential stormwater impacts. Likewise, some activities such as vehicle maintenance may have the potential to cause hazardous materials spills that could leak into the wastewater system. Therefore, these activities should be avoided when possible. For more information on how to safely manage water in your operation, click here.
Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
Most concessioners are required to develop some sort of program, typically known as an EMS or Environmental Management Program (EMP), to comprehensively manage their environmental efforts. An EMS or EMP defines the process for identifying your operation's environmental objectives, monitoring progress toward achieving objectives, assigning responsibilities to staff to manage environmental impacts, and improving environmental performance over time. An EMS or EMP can also be a great tool for effectively organizing training records, completing reports to environmental authorities, environmental permits, registrations for environmental equipment, and other important documentation. For information on how to use an EMS or EMP as the framework to accomplish your environmental goals, click here. The NPS Commercial Services is developing EMP guidance specific to concessioner operations which will be available on the NPS Commercial Service website.
Looking to the future, it is important to understand your operation's impact on climate change and devise strategies to reduce your operation's greenhouse gas emissions. Some concession contracts may require a greenhouse gas analysis to identify opportunities to reduce emissions. For more information about how your operation can address climate change, click here.
The smart and efficient use of energy is an important factor in our country's future success. There are many inexpensive and easy ways your staff can reduce the energy use of your operation. The first step is to make behavioral changes, such as requesting that staff turn off lights whenever they leave a room or turn off their computers (including monitors and screens) when they leave for the day. The next step is to implement minor operational changes, such as setting electronic equipment to energy save mode or installing weather-stripping around windows and doors. Another step is to implement major operational changes, such as installing solar equipment, if possible. For more ideas and to learn how your operation can contribute to the energy reduction, click here.
Looking for information on environmental regulations and programs in your state? EPA's Where You Live site allows you to search your region, state, or community for regulations and requirements that may apply to your operations based on location.