PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In the face of recent UN reports, the impacts of climate change can seem irreversible and daunting — however, a recent analysis by the US Environmental Protection Agency suggests facilities in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska have significantly decreased the amount of chemical waste and pollution released through recent efforts.
According to the 2020 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis published by the EPA Thursday, chemical management companies have successfully reduced TRI chemical releases from 2019 to 2020 by 10% nationally, and those rates continue to drop in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and 271 Tribal Nations.
The report suggests TRI facilities may be able to help shift the narrative surrounding climate change, as the analysis showed companies within the Pacific Northwest and Alaska were able to decrease chemical waste by 25% from 2011 to 2020.
Additionally, of the 978 million pounds of production-related waste managed within the region in 2020, the analysis showed 701 million pounds were disposed of or released.
The report credits much of this change to preventative actions taken on behalf of TRI facilities, stating, “For 2020, chemical waste releases decreased by 10 percent from 2019 levels, excluding the metal mining sector and four percent of region facilities reported implementing new source reduction activities.”
According to EPA, some source reduction activities taken up by local facilities include material substitution and process modification, increased recycling, combustion for energy recovery, treatment, and disposing of or releasing chemical waste in an environmentally safe manner.
The chemical waste and pollution reduction seen throughout the Pacific Northwest is on trend with the national data displayed in the 2020 report, which stated nationally “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.”
According to EPA, across the US TRI facilities introduced 2,779 new source reduction activities to help decrease pollution and waste.
In an effort to continue the positive trend in reduced chemical waste and pollution, EPA announced it will offer $23 million in grants for states and tribal communities to create and distribute educational training tools for businesses to help them implement best practices for pollution prevention.
“For the first time, approximately $14 million in grant funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is available with no cost sharing or matching requirement, increasing access to funding for all communities,” EPA said. “These grants are a critical component of the President’s Justice40 initiative by providing a meaningful benefit to communities impacted by legacy pollution issues.”
EPA has stated that at least 40% of the benefits offered will be distributed to underserved communities.