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TRI National Analysis

Pollution Prevention and Waste Management

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Each year, the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) collects information from more than 21,000 facilities on the quantities of TRI-listed chemicals they recycle, combust for energy recovery, treat for destruction, and dispose of or otherwise release both on and off site as part of their normal operations. These quantities, in total, are collectively referred to as the quantity of 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. managed.

Waste Management Hierarchy, showing the order of actions in order from most preferable (source reduction) to less preferable (disposal or other releases)

Looking at production-related waste managed over time helps track progress made by industrial facilities in reducing the amount of chemical waste generated and in adopting waste management practices that are preferable to disposing of or otherwise releasing waste to the environment. EPA encourages facilities to first eliminate the creation of chemical waste through source reduction activities. For wastes that are generated, the most preferred management method is recycling, followed by combusting for energy recovery, treatment, and, as a last resort, disposing of or otherwise releasing the chemical waste into the environment. These waste management practices are illustrated in the waste management hierarchy image shown here and discussed in the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) of 1990. One goal of the PPA is that over time facilities will shift from disposal or other releases toward the more preferred techniques in the waste management hierarchy that do not result in releases to the environment.

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 2017 include all chemicals reportable for 2017, therefore, values for a 2017-only analysis may differ slightly from results for 2017 in a trend analysis.


This page was published in March 2019 and uses the 2017 TRI National Analysis dataset made public in TRI Explorer in October 2018.

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