Georgia Manufacturers Reduce Toxic Waste by Wendy McPherson and Paul Crumpler

In 1994, P2AD analyzed 1992 TRI data and identified 21 high priority chemical wastes and the manufacturing sectors that were responsible for generating much of this waste. High priority chemical wastes are defined as those that exhibit carcinogenic or ozone-depleting characteristics, or have serious environmental effects. Manufacturing sectors responsible for releasing high priority chemicals in Georgia were identified and ranked as either high, medium, or low priority manufacturing sectors. High priority manufacturing sectors were the subject of in-depth assessments to identify pollution prevention opportunities. Since 1992, P2AD has conducted pollution prevention workshops, published fact sheets, and provided manufacturers within the high priority sectors with other forms of pollution prevention assistance.

In an effort to determine how waste generation has changed since 1992, TRI data for the years 1993, 1994, and 1995 were compared to the 1992 results. For purposes of this analysis, total waste generation includes fugitive and stack air emissions, discharges to surface water and publicly owned treatment works (POTW), land disposal, and waste transferred off site for disposal or recycling.

Comparing results of the 1992 and 1995 TRI reports indicates that total TRI waste generation decreased 11% from 125 million pounds to 112 million pounds. Air emissions increased 1% to 49 million pounds and discharges to surface water and POTWs increased by 1.2 million pounds. Transfers decreased 15 million pounds.

Total high priority chemical waste generation in Georgia decreased from 97 million pounds in 1992 to 85 million pounds in 1995, a 12% reduction. Generation of 11 of the 21 chemicals decreased and 10 increased in 1995 compared to 1992. See the box for changes in high priority chemical waste generation. Manufacturing subsectors primarily responsible for the increases are industrial machinery (chromium and nickel), transportation equipment (chromium and trichloroethylene), electronic equipment (nickel), rubber and plastic (dichloromethane), and primary metals (zinc).

High Priority Chemical

Waste Reductions (1992-1995)

  • CFC-113 (100%)
  • Chlorine (92%)
  • 1,1,1-trichloroethane (86%)
  • Tetrachloroethylene (80%)
  • Chloroform (60%)
  • Hydrochloric acid (48%)
  • Copper (33%)
  • Methyl ethyl ketone (18%)
  • Lead (16%)
  • Methanol (6%)
  • Xylene (3%)

Increases (1992-1995)

  • Nickel (96%)
  • Chromium (63%)
  • Trichloroethylene (55%)
  • Dichloromethane (45%)
  • Zinc (36%)
  • Formaldehyde (29%)
  • Ammonia (22%)
  • Toluene (21%)
  • Styrene (17%)
  • Methyl isobutyl ketone (1%)


High Priority Sectors

  • Reduced high priority waste 16%
Medium Priority Sectors

  • Reduced high priority waste 19%
Low Priority Sectors

  • Reduced high priority waste 73%

To provide you with a sense of the changes in industry sectors, the following sections discuss two high, three medium, and one low priority sectors.

Printing Subsector – Total high priority chemical generation by this subsector increased 52 percent in 1995 compared to 1992, while the number of companies reporting toxic chemical generation decreased. Generation of waste toluene increased by 58% and methyl ethyl ketone increased by 33%. Total TRI wastes decreased by 65%. The increase in high priority chemical generation can primarily be attributed to one company. When this company is excluded, total high priority chemical generation by the printing and publishing sector decreased 74 percent from 1992 to 1995. Additionally, the industry as a whole has made great strides in eliminating generation of 1,1,1-trichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and zinc through substitution of safer inks and cleaners.

Pulp and Paper — The 2% increase in overall TRI and high priority wastes was probably due to changes in production and emissions factors used to calculate releases. This subsector did show significant decreases in the generation of chlorine and chloroform wastes due in part to chlorine dioxide use for bleaching instead of chlorine.

Electronic Equipment — The number of companies reporting decreased from 29 to 27. This sector manufactures batteries, circuit boards, lighting, and similar products. Generation of waste metals and solvents contributed most to the 24% increase in high priority waste generation. Solvent use has changed from chlorinated solvents, xylene, and toluene to glycol ethers, which is an indication of a change to low-VOC chemistries. As a result, there was a decrease in air emissions of all TRI reportable chemicals by 300,000 pounds. The majority of TRI waste is collected and treated instead of released. Even though there is an increase in high priority waste generation, this sector is changing to the use of environmentally preferred chemicals. However, there is now concern that glycol ether exposure has serious health effects.

Furniture — Companies reporting TRI releases increased from 7 to 9. Overall TRI waste increased 13% and high priority waste increased 16% from 1992 to 1995. In this sector, 90% of all TRI waste generation is releases of solvent to the air from painting, coating, and varnishing of wood. Most companies producing furniture are hesitant to adopt water-based coatings and high-efficiency paint spray equipment due to product quality concerns.

Industrial Machinery — The number of companies reporting increased from 22 to 33 from 1992 to 1995. This subsector primarily produces metal machinery which is painted or finished. The additional releases of metals and paint solvents contributed to the large 205% increase in high priority waste. This large increase may also be partially due to increased production. Total air releases, including all TRI reportable chemicals increased by 650,000 pounds, and transfer of waste offsite for treatment and disposal increased by 1,400,000 pounds. Most TRI waste generation is due to cleaning and painting processes.

Miscellaneous Manufacturing — Increases in the release of toluene, xylene, and styrene to the air all contributed to an overall increase in the generation of high priority waste by 215%. In addition, the number of companies reporting increased from 7 to 9. The companies reporting in this sector are involved in manufacture of zippers and buttons, metal finishing, wood finishing, and fiberglass molding processes. These processes probably relate more closely with other medium and high priority sectors. Overall, total air emissions of all TRI reportable chemicals increased by 80,000 pounds while transfers offsite for treatment, disposal, or recycling increased 4.6 million pounds.

High Priority Waste Generation

High Priority Sectors

Total 1992 Pounds

Total 1995 Pounds

% Change

Pulp and Paper




Chemical & Allied Prod.




Transportation Equipment




Rubber and Plastic




Fabricated Metal




Printing and Publishing








Medium Priority Sectors

Primary Metals




Electronic Equipment




Furniture and Fixtures




Stone, Clay, and Glass




Industrial Machinery








Low Priority Sectors





Textile Products




Apparel Products




Tobacco Products




Petroleum Refining




Leather Products




Measuring Equipment




Miscellaneous Mfg.












P2AD will continue to proactively assist manufacturing sectors in Georgia releasing the largest quantities of high priority chemicals through its pollution prevention assistance program. Expansion of the TRI chemical list will likely generate additional interest in pollution prevention activities by all manufacturing sectors. Added emphasis will be placed on providing assistance within the subsectors showing an increase in high priority waste.