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TRI National Analysis

Comparing Industry Sectors

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This section examines how different industrial sectors manage their chemical waste. This sector-specific approach can highlight progress made in improving environmental performance, identify emerging issues, and reveal opportunities for better waste management practices.

The industries that are subject to TRI reporting requirements vary substantially in size, scope, and business type. As a result, the amounts and types of chemicals used, generated, and managed by facilities within a given industry sector often differ greatly from those of facilities in other sectors. For facilities in the same sector, however, the processes, products, and regulatory requirements are often similar, resulting in similar manufacture, processing, or other use of chemicals.

For analysis purposes, the TRI Program has aggregated the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes at the 3- and 4-digit levels, creating 29 industry sector categories. To learn more about which business activities are subject to TRI reporting requirements, see this list of covered NAICS codes.

The following pie chart shows the industry sectors that reported the most production-related waste for 2018.


Seven industry sectors reported 89% of the quantities of TRI chemicals managed as production-related wasteHelpproduction-related wasteThe sum of all non-accidental chemical waste generated at a facility. It is the sum of on-site environmental releases (minus quantities from non-routine, one-time events), on-site waste management (recycling, treatment, and combustion for energy recovery), and off-site transfers for disposal, treatment, recycling or energy recovery. in 2018. A majority of TRI chemical waste managed originated from the chemical manufacturing sector (55%).

The following pie chart shows the industry sectors that reported the most disposal or other releases for 2018.


This pie chart shows that 4 of the 29 TRI reporting sectors reported 79% of the quantities of TRI chemicals disposed of or otherwise released: metal mining (47%), chemical manufacturing (14%), electric utilities (9%), and primary metals (9%).

For more details on how the amounts and proportions of TRI chemicals managed as waste have changed over time, see the production-related waste managed by industry trend graph.

For more information on the breakdown of these releases by environmental medium, see air releases by industry, water releases by industry, and land disposal by industry.

As with any dataset, there are several factors to consider when using the TRI data. Key factors associated with data presented are summarized in the Introduction. For more information see Factors to Consider When Using Toxics Release Inventory Data. Also note that the list of TRI chemicals has changed over the years. For comparability, trend graphs include only those chemicals that were reportable for all years presented. Figures that focus only on the year 2018 include all chemicals reportable for 2018, therefore, values for a 2018-only analysis may differ slightly from results for 2018 in a trend analysis.

This page was published in February 2020 and uses the 2018 TRI National Analysis dataset made public in TRI Explorer in November 2019.

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