The Utility of TRI in Tracking Implementation and Environmental Impact of Industrial Chemistry Practices in the U.S.

April 4 2018 :

Earlier this year, the US EPA Toxics Release Inventory-Green Chemistry chapter was published. “The Utility of the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) in Tracking Implementation and Environmental Impact of Industrial Green Chemistry Practices in the United States” .

This chapter describes the utility of the TRI as a useful tool for measuring the impact of green chemistry practices on reducing releases and other waste management quantities of chemicals reportable to the TRI Program, and assessing progress toward sustainability goals.

The article starts by presenting the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), with a brief history of its evolution and a comprehensive description of who is subject to reporting. It aims to conduct a sound analysis of the green chemistry activities reported to the TRI Program.

After starting by defining the concepts such as "source reduction " or "green chemistry", many benefits to implementing green chemistry are highlighted. These include improved economy and business, environment, and human health conditions. Given these benefits many industries advanced in green chemistry and in 2012, the TRI Program added six green chemistry source reduction codes to better track these ongoing activities and their possible improvements. This provides a new dataset used for this study. The article then highlights the three different ways to track the green chemistry in an industry. The question to be raised then is in regards of the data: Does it confirm that implementation of green chemistry techniques results in reduced waste management and release quantities?

Once studied, it turns out that all implemented source reduction is not equal, meaning all activities do not equally decrease the quantities of chemical waste managed. The study, which considered a wide range of TRI data from 1987 to 2012, shows that there is considerable variation in how the implementation of different source reduction activities affects releases. Impacts may also be experienced up to 5 years after the implementation of a source reduction project. This is just the beginning and the research could go on: "More focused analysis by industry sector or green chemistry code would provide more insightful findings as well as more accurate estimates of impact. Analysis of waste managed quantities help to track the overall performance of the facility and more granular analysis of each of the waste management methods, particularly the releases portion, which would inform on progress toward reducing the emission of toxic chemicals to environmental media."


The publication can either be downloaded on Intech ( or can be found under the Resource section of this platform.