New Report Profiles Environmental Stewardship in Major Sectors

AEN News

Washington - Steel recycling has reached a 20-year high. The number of buildings meeting green building standards doubled last year. Paint and coating manufacturers now reclaim 97 percent of all waste solvents for further use. The forest products sector now leads all manufacturers in use of co-generation, a highly efficient process that creates heat and electricity from a single source. These are just a few of the environmental performance trends highlighted in a new EPA report released today.

The 2006 Sector Strategies Performance Report is a joint product of EPA's partnerships with some of the nation's most important economic sectors. Collectively, these sectors contribute nearly $2.1 trillion to the gross domestic product and $5 billion in environmental spending each year. "Environmental responsibility is everyone's responsibility - and today I'm pleased our nation's economic leaders are taking this motto to heart," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "By working with our partners in industry, President Bush and EPA are promoting the innovative solutions that make sense for our environmental and economic well-being."

Through EPA's Sector Strategies Program, more than 20 national trade associations - representing 12 major sectors of the U.S. economy - are working with the agency to improve their environmental performance while also reducing unnecessary administrative burden. The participating sectors represent more than 780,000 facilities in manufacturing (cement, forest products, steel, metal casting, metal finishing, paint and coatings, shipbuilding, and specialty-batch chemical) and non-manufacturing sectors (colleges and universities, construction, ports, and agribusiness).

Using government and industry data, as well as case study examples, the report provides a 10-year portrait of environmental performance for each sector. It tracks each sector for their record in reducing water discharges, air emissions, waste generation, toxic chemical releases, as well as their accomplishments in recycling and energy and water efficiency. The data reveal areas where sectors are improving and where more effort is needed to achieve environmental goals. For example, the forest products, iron and steel, and cement sectors are some of the nation's most energy-intensive industries. While all three registered improvements in energy efficiency over the 10-year period, their trade associations (the American Forest and Paper Association, the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the Portland Cement Association) have set industry goals that would net further energy savings and reduce greenhouse gas intensity.

The report also provides a first-time look at how EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data can be used to target the greatest hazard reduction opportunities when managing chemicals. EPA is using toxicity-weighted scores to show release trends for higher impact substances. This information can serve as a tool for future strategic planning. The 2006 report also describes how sectors are turning would-be wastes into material and energy inputs, and how trade associations are helping their members improve environmental operations.