CHICAGO, Ill. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) will join forces for international development projects beginning in China.

The organizations signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday at the US BCSD Summer meeting. The projects will begin in China where existing relationships already are in place, focusing on projects that will help the world's top producer transition to a more sustainable economy.

"Promoting clean power solutions and clean energy innovations both domestically and internationally is an EPA commitment," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, in a statement. "Through today's MOU signing, we're joining forces with US BCSD to deliver an economically- and environmentally-brighter tomorrow."

The groups will target three areas. The first involves the creation of a sustainable strategy for China's cement production industry, which is the world's largest. According to US BCSD, the cement industry accounts for roughly 5 percent of the world's manmade carbon dioxide emissions each year.

The organizations will work in China to employ clean technologies to convert biomass waste into renewable energy and introduce a by-product synergy system pioneered by US BCSD.

The concept calls for matching under-valued by-product streams with potential users, according to US BCSD. The arrangement creates new revenue or savings while also addressing environmental impacts.

One by-product synergy project called the Chicago Waste to Profit Network was launched in late 2006 with more than 30 member companies in the greater Chicago area. Partnered by the city, state, EPA Region 5 and Chicago Manufacturing Center, the program reduced waste by 6,000 tons this year. The project led to reduced emissions, creation of new markets, sales opportunities and efficiencies that saved money.

"With raw materials prices escalating rapidly, by-product synergy are a practical survival strategy for the years to come," said US BCSD Executive Director Andrew Mangan. "Even the leanest manufacturing process does not eliminate the problems of yield loss or the occasional off-specification product. Instead of total loss and disposal of these resources, by-product synergy can identify new uses that can naturally lead to business savings."