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EPA Recycling and Sustainable Materials Research Opportunity

One full-time paid opportunity is available with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (ORCR) in the Arlington, Virginia and Washington, DC area.

ORCR works with state and regional partners to implement the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Our mission is to protect human health and the environment by ensuring responsible management of hazardous and nonhazardous waste. ORCR’s goals are to conserve resources by reducing waste, prevent future waste disposal problems through regulations, and clean up areas where waste may have spilled, leaked, or been improperly disposed.

Secondary materials are any materials that are not the primary products from manufacturing and other industrial sectors. These materials can include scrap and residuals from production processes and products that have been recovered at the end of their useful life. Some common examples include: coal combustion residuals generated by steam electric utilities, spent foundry sand generated by the metal casting sector, and construction and demolition materials from the construction and demolition of buildings, roads and other infrastructure. The beneficial use of industrial non-hazardous secondary materials is a key part of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management effort.

The goal of this research project is to expand knowledge and methods regarding beneficial use and Sustainable Materials Management (SMM). The appropriate beneficial use of secondary materials can advance the goals of EPA’s SMM program, which emphasizes a materials management approach that aims to reduce impacts to human health and the environment associated with materials over their entire life cycle (e.g., extraction, manufacture, distribution, use, disposal). Through SMM, EPA is helping change the way our society protects the environment and conserves resources for future generations. Life Cycle Assessment is a technique to make more informed decisions through a better understanding of the human health and environmental impacts of products, processes, and activities. This can include an evaluation of the air, water, land, and energy consequences of a product or process, and possible alternatives.

The selected participant will collaborate with EPA professionals in conducting research on environmental science and/or policy related to SMM. The research may involve conducting literature searches and reviews (e.g., existing public information sources, public comments on the Agency’s regulations, and searching through paper records in state Agency files), and stakeholder engagements and dialogues. The research will contribute to a better understanding of SMM including aspects of geographic distribution and flows from producing industries to the end user as well as encouraging appropriate beneficial uses.

As part of this project, the participant will have the opportunity to become familiar with EPA beneficial use methodology and/or life cycle assessment. The participant will also gain an understanding of environmental policy and rule making at EPA.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: Summer/Fall 2020

This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and EPA. The initial appointment is for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of EPA and is contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. At this time bachelor’s degree ~$48K/year, master’s degree ~$59K/year, doctoral degree ~$72K/year. Funding may be made available to reimburse the participant’s travel expenses to present the results of his/her research at scientific conferences. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. There are multiple full-time appointments in the Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, DC, area. Participants do not become employees of EPA, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits.

Completion of a successful background investigation by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is required for an applicant to be on-boarded at EPA.


The qualified candidate should have received a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields, or be currently pursuing one of the degrees and will reach completion by the start date of the appointment. Degree must have been received within five years of the appointment start date.

How to Apply

A complete application consists of:

  • An application
  • Transcript(s) – For this opportunity, an unofficial transcript or copy of the student academic records printed by the applicant or by academic advisors from internal institution systems may be submitted. All transcripts must be in English or include an official English translation. Click here for detailed information about acceptable transcripts.
  • A current resume/CV, including academic history, employment history, relevant experiences, and publication list
  • Two educational or professional recommendations

All documents must be in English or include an official English translation.

If you have questions, send an email to Please include the reference code for this opportunity in your email.

Application Deadline
6/12/2020 3:00:00 PM Eastern Time Zone
Learn more and apply here.