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EPA Projects Featured in 2020 Earth Sprint Hosted by U.S. Census Bureau

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WASHINGTON (December 10, 2020) — This year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) participated in The Opportunity Project, an initiative of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Open Innovation Labs, to assist in utilizing federal data to help address challenges across several industries and communities. This year’s Earth Sprint focused on protecting the environment, and EPA projects aimed to connect recycling facilities and programs with technology companies, develop digital tools to educate communities about clean school buses, and ways for rural communities to utilize technology to address economic, environmental, and human health challenges. 

The Opportunity Project facilitates 12-week product development cycles (called “sprints”) that pull together innovators from every sector. Tech teams join a sprint to build data-powered solutions to critical problems facing the public. They are then matched with subject-matter experts who offer valuable information and feedback. EPA participated in the 2020 Earth Sprint through a diverse range of projects that are featured in the virtual “Demo Week” from Wednesday, December 9 through Friday, December 11, 2020. Learn how these projects are nearing completion at: 

“This kind of digital development connects environmental innovators who can then advance environmental goals in completely new and original ways,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “By lowering the barriers to collaboration, these ‘sprints’ will lead to better environmental outcomes.”

Members of EPA’s America Recycles Network participated in the effort to develop digital tools that facilitate more efficient and effective recycling markets. Recycling is a key driver of the U.S. economy that saves natural resources (such as timber and water), protects the environment by reducing the need to produce new materials, and supports American manufacturing and jobs in the recycling industry.

EPA supported an Earth Sprint challenge to create a digital tool or platform that utilizes data from EPA’s Clean School Bus USA Program to further educate parents, teachers, and students on how to take action to ensure their school districts have access to clean school buses. 

EPA also challenged teams to create digital tools for rural communities to address economic, environmental, and human health challenges. Accessing local data on factors such as water quality, walkability, and available technology workforce in one place can help hardworking rural community leaders achieve their goals for growth and development, while maintaining their distinctive rural character. EPA also prioritized data around access to broadband, as communities shift many services to virtual formats.

Participating tech teams showcased a variety of products developed in response to these challenges, including a/an:

  • Certification system that recognizes recycling facilities that routinely provide high-quality recycled materials to buyers.
  • Online marketplace to efficiently connect recycling facilities with buyers.
  • Online “waste map” in Chicago to see the movement of waste and recyclable materials, to inform processing and manufacturing decisions.
  • Online tool linking private investors with rural communities’ needs and assets along with Opportunity Funds open for investment.
  • Web application to analyze rural community potential to attract and host technology sector jobs.
  • Map-based application to help shrinking rural downtowns attract remote workers.
  • Interactive training and information resource for rural entrepreneurs in small business sector.
  • Web application to help local economic development departments promote investment in rural affordable housing.
  • Website and crowdsourced database on actual internet speed rates and types of usage, such as for remote work, online learning, and telehealth.
  • Online game for students, parents, teachers, and school officials to learn about clean school buses to reduce tailpipe emissions in their districts.

Learn more about how these projects are nearing completion at Demo Week:

To learn more about other innovations in recycling, check out EPA’s America Recycles: Innovation Fair, which is showcasing 42 exhibitors until December 18, 2020 at

For more information on EPA’s America Recycles efforts, visit: EPA encourages interested U.S.-based organizations to get involved and sign the America Recycles pledge at:

To learn more about how EPA works with small towns and rural communities to strengthen their economies, provide better quality of life, and build on local assets, visit:

For more information on EPA’s Clean School Bus efforts, visit:


The U.S. Census Bureau’s Open Innovation Labs help companies, non-profits, and universities turn federal open data into new technologies to solve real-world problems for people across the country.

The Opportunity Project focuses on the nation’s toughest challenges, from the opioid crisis and disaster relief to improving science, technology, engineering, and math education and strengthening the workforce. To date, 100 consumer-facing digital products have been created, using open data to serve families, businesses, and communities nationwide.