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JULY 2006

 

Report profiles environmental stewardship in major sectors

Washington, DC— Steel recycling has reached a 20-year high. The number of green buildings 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.

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.

Through EPA’s Sector Strategies Program, more than 20 national trade associations – representing 12 major sectors of the United States 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 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.


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