Written by Kara Lamantia and Scarlett Stapleton, who work for BBJ Group
We are locally dedicated with international scale.
The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting deadline is just around the corner – July 1, 2021 – and many facilities are just now starting to think about what they need to report. In addition to the newly listed 172 per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) materials that need to be reported, TRI reporting can be tricky when you look behind the curtain. Below we cover some of the finer points of TRI reporting.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) TRI is a resource that provides data associated with production, environmental releases, and waste management practices of listed toxic chemicals (40 CFR §372.25-29) from certain facilities. TRI employs Form R or Form A Reporting for each listed chemical to comprehensively evaluate annual use, recycling, reclamation and other waste management activities, environmental releases, and pollution prevention activities of TRI listed chemicals. This annual data is then used to produce the TRI National Analysis, the official annual TRI Report.
Any facility that employs more than ten people and meets the requirements for TRI reporting is required under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), Section 313 to submit an annual Form R or Form A Report by July 1st to the USEPA and relevant TRI State Agency – which is also where facilities can report their progress on waste reduction activities in their annual Report. A simple decision tree by the USEPA can help facilities determine if they need to complete TRI reporting:
Generally, the threshold for reporting TRI chemicals that are manufactured or processed throughout the calendar year is 25,000 pounds while the threshold for toxic chemicals that are “otherwise used” throughout the calendar year is 10,000 pounds. Manufacturing includes the production or import of a TRI-listed chemical while processing includes the use of a TRI-listed chemical as a reactant, a formulation component, or offered for recycling or reclamation. Common ‘otherwise uses’ of a TRI-listed chemical include as a manufacturing aid (e.g., refrigerants, hydraulic fluids) or an ancillary use such as for wastewater treatment. Consider this example for manufacturing/processing versus otherwise used:
Determining whether your facility meets the threshold for a TRI listed chemical isn’t always straightforward. New toxic chemicals or chemical categories as well as new covered industry sectors can be added to the TRI annually. Some chemicals are considered to be more toxic and have lower reporting thresholds. Reporting exemptions also exist and include exemptions for certain TRI covered sectors, for TRI chemicals present in minor concentrations, and for some activities considered an “otherwise use” such as motor vehicle maintenance. Below are some common areas facilities can get tripped up in reporting:
While TRI reporting may initially seem daunting, facilities that have good insight into how much of each TRI listed chemical is used in facility production, waste management activities, energy recovery and recycling, pollution prevention activities, and environmental releases can more easily navigate the trickier parts of TRI reporting. Thoroughly understanding and documenting a facility’s overall process flow, chemical usage, and production and waste activities will facilitate a more thorough and efficient reporting process whereby the potential pitfalls above can be avoided.