Pollution Prevention and Waste Management
Each year, the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program receives information from more than 21,000 facilities on the quantities of TRI-listed chemicals they recycled, combusted for energy recovery, treated for destruction, and disposed of or otherwise released both on and off site as part of their normal operations. These quantities are collectively referred to as production-related waste managedThe 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..
Looking at production-related waste managed over time helps track facilities’ progress in reducing the amount of chemical waste generated and in adopting waste management practices that are preferable to disposing of or otherwise releasing waste into the environment.
Pollution prevention (P2) is an essential component of sustainable manufacturing practices. EPA encourages facilities to first reduce or eliminate the use of TRI-listed chemicals and the creation of chemical waste through source reduction, or P2, activities such as material substitutions and process modifications. For waste that is generated, the preferred management method is recycling, followed by combustion for energy recovery, treatment, and, as a last resort, disposal or other release of the chemical waste into the environment in a safe manner. This order of preference is consistent with the national policy established by the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) of 1990, and is illustrated in the graphic above.
- TRI facilities implemented 2,779 new source reduction activities to reduce pollution at its source.
- Facilities managed 28.3 billion pounds of TRI chemical waste, 89% of which was not released due to preferred waste management practices such as recycling.
- Production-related waste managed increased by 5.0 billion pounds (22%) since 2011, driven by a 6.6-billion-pound (76%) increase in recycling.
As with any dataset, there are several factors to consider when using the TRI data. Key factors associated with data used in the National Analysis are summarized in the Introduction. For more information see Factors to Consider When Using Toxics Release Inventory Data.
This page was published in March 2022 and uses the 2020 TRI National Analysis dataset made public in TRI Explorer in October 2021.