Standards Reviews Are Critical to Industry Advances

Portable restroom operators have many opportunities to lend their expertise to a broad range of collaborative efforts

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In the seven years since I joined the Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI), we have made a great deal of progress in helping the reputation of portable sanitation. Frequent readers here and of the PSAI’s biweekly newsletter Association Insight know our organization has always been committed to establishing and evolving standards for the industry. In the October 2020 issue of PRO, I talked about the current process for updating standards related to work sites, fields and temporary labor camps. Here are other standards efforts that are underway:

International Working Agreement (IWA) on Woman Owned Businesses. Beginning in fall 2020, the PSAI engaged with nearly 300 individuals and organizations around the world in the development of an IWA to set common definitions related to women’s entrepreneurship. 

Although the U.S., Canada and several others have used their own definitions for years, the terminology has not been harmonized around the world. That makes it difficult for women to grow their businesses, obtain financing and otherwise compete in the marketplace. Since sanitation in general and portable sanitation in particular are areas where more involvement is needed, it made sense for the PSAI to join in this process. We hope the new IWA will help women around the world become successful in our industry through easier access to programs and funding. The IWA was published in early March. 

Urine reclamation. In 2017 the PSAI engaged with professionals and scientists interested in isolating urine. These experts are finding ways to transform liquid human waste into a product to sell rather than a nuisance that needs treatment or disposal. Since disposal is an increasing challenge for portable sanitation operators, we felt it was prudent for the PSAI to be at any table where alternatives were being discussed. 

In late 2020 a group of these professionals — now known as the Gold Ribbon Commission on Urine Reuse (GRC) — began to explore the creation of standards, white papers and other resources to aid in the adoption of urine reclamation as an alternative to disposal. The PSAI is serving on the executive body for the GRC.

Currently the GRC is developing a scope of work and reviewing existing laws, rules and standards that may be relevant to our project. It is particularly important that the PSAI be at this table because of the potential opportunities for monetizing urine that could result from this effort. 

As an accredited standards developer, we have offered to provide necessary support for creation of an ANSI standard if that turns out to be one of the steps that makes sense. It is also important to make sure any documents created are written with good information about how portable units and vacuum trucks are constructed and used. 

You can get involved. You might not think of yourself as an expert. You don’t have to be. If you run a portable sanitation company, you have a lot to offer these and other projects the PSAI is working on. For example, you can:

Volunteer on the PSAI Standards and Guidance Committee (SGC). The SGC meets about once a month and works on assignments in between. They research, develop and recommend industry standards that serve the best interests of the public and raise the image of the portable sanitation industry. This year they will be leading the charge on updating the ANSI/PSAI standards and the best practices for service technicians. 

Serve on a consensus body. Each new or updated standard must be approved by a representative group of materially interested parties using procedures approved either by ANSI or the PSAI board of directors. If you serve on a consensus body, you become an expert on a standard, help to make it the best document it can be, and vote on the language. Consensus bodies for several standards and best practices are forming now.

Comment on standards drafts. Even if you don’t have time to become involved on a committee or consensus body, you can still comment on standards in draft form. Watch PSAI newsletters for notices about providing feedback during the open comment period. If you participate, your ideas will be taken seriously and given weight, but you do not get to vote on the final documents.

Attend PSAI informational sessions about new and updated standards. Throughout the year we’ll be holding virtual roundtable sessions and educational sessions at our conferences regarding the proposed updates to standards and new standards we are considering. These are great opportunities for you and your team to educate yourselves about the standards and best practices. You can also provide feedback and learn how to implement them at these sessions.

Questions? Want to get involved? Email me at karleenk@psai.org  or call me at 952-854-8300. We’d love to have you. 



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