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TRI National Analysis

Waste Management Trends

Facilities report the quantities of TRI-listed chemicals that they dispose of or otherwise release into the environment as a result of normal industrial operations. In addition, facilities report the quantities of these chemicals that they manage through preferred methods including recycling, combusting for energy recovery, and treating for destruction. This figure shows the trend in these quantities, collectively referred to as production-related waste managedHelpproduction-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..

 

Note: For comparability, trend graphs include only those chemicals that were reportable to TRI for all years presented.

From 2007 to 2019:

  • Production-related waste managed decreased during the recession from 2007 to 2009. Since 2009, production-related waste managed has generally increased as the U.S. economy has improved.
  • Since 2007, production-related waste managed increased by 5.4 billion pounds (23%), driven by increased recycling.
    • Disposal and other releases decreased by 874 million pounds (-20%).
    • Treatment decreased by 887 million pounds (-11%).
    • Energy recovery increased by 124 million pounds (5%).
    • Recycling increased by 7.1 billion pounds (78%), a trend largely driven by three facilities in the chemical manufacturing sector that each reported recycling one billion pounds or more annually in recent years.
  • The number of facilities that report to TRI has declined by 9% since 2007. Reasons for this decrease include facility closures, outsourcing of operations to other countries, and facilities reducing their manufacture, processing, or other use of TRI-listed chemicals to below the reporting thresholds.
  • Please note that the most recent TRI dataset reflects chemical waste management activities that occurred during calendar year 2019, and therefore does not indicate any potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in the U.S. in early 2020.

Facilities report both on- and off-site waste management. The following chart shows the relative quantities of on-site and off-site waste management methods for 2019.

 

For 2019, 88% of production-related waste was managed on site.

  • Most production-related waste managed off site is recycled. Most of this recycling is reported by the primary and fabricated metals sectors. Facilities in these sectors often send scrap metal off site for recycling.
  • The 2019 distribution of waste managed on site and off site is similar to previous years.

This page was published in January 2021 and uses the 2019 TRI National Analysis dataset made public in TRI Explorer in October 2020.

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