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XIII. 33/50 Program

Source: EPA 1994 Toxics Release Inventory
Public Data Release, Appendix A:
Questions and Answers


Q109 What is the 33/50 Program?

A The 33/50 Program is an EPA voluntary pollution prevention initiative begun in 1991. It derives its name from its overall goals--an interim goal of a 33% reduction in 1992 and an ultimate goal of a 50% reduction in 1995 in releases and transfers of 17 high-priority toxic chemicals, using 1988 TRI reporting as a baseline. The 33/50 Program emphasized simplicity and flexibility, allowing companies to set their own reduction goals and to achieve them in ways they felt made the most sense for their specific manufacturing operations. The Program represents an innovative experiment aimed at demonstrating whether voluntary programs can augment the Agency's traditional command-and-control approach by achieving targeted reductions more quickly than would regulations alone. The 33/50 Program is part of a broad group of EPA activities designed to encourage pollution prevention as the best means of achieving reductions in toxic chemical releases and transfers.

Q110 How is the 33/50 Program related to the TRI program?

A The 33/50 Program relies on the TRI as its primary tool in measuring progress toward achieving the Program's national goals and in monitoring the progress of individual company participants and their facilities in meeting their own pollution reduction targets. The 33/50 Program compliments the TRI program: while TRI asks industry to monitor and publicly report on the pollution resulting from its manufacturing operations, the 33/50 Program takes the next step by asking--though not requiring--industry to do something about these environmental releases and off-site transfers. EPA has observed that the public accountability fostered by TRI and the Pollution Prevention Act play a vital role in persuading companies to take voluntary actions to prevent pollution. Nonetheless, establishment of the 33/50 Program appears to have accelerated the reduction rate for emissions of the 17 target chemicals.

Q111 What chemicals are included in the 33/50 Program?

A The 17 chemicals and chemical categories targeted for reductions are all listed TRI chemicals: benzene, cadmium and compounds, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, chromium and compounds, cyanide and compounds, dichloromethane, lead and compounds, mercury and compounds, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, nickel and compounds, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and xylenes.

Q112 Has the 33/50 Program met its goals?

A Industry exceeded the 33/50 Program's national interim 33% reduction goal by more than 100 million pounds in 1992. National emissions of Program chemicals were reduced by an additional 94 million pounds in 1993 and 62 million pounds in 1994, bringing total reductions since 1988 to more than 756 million pounds (51%), exceeding the Program's ultimate 50% reduction goal a full year ahead of schedule.

Q113 How have companies reduced their emissions of the 33/50 Program's 17 chemicals?

A EPA encouraged 33/50 Program participants to employ source reduction as the method of first choice in reducing their releases and off-site transfers of Program chemicals. Companies could also undertake recycling, energy recovery, and treatment projects to achieve their 33/50 Program reduction goals. EPA has published twenty-three 33/50 Program Company Profiles that document some of the specific techniques employed by large and small companies alike to reduce their toxics emissions. Another 10 profiles are in development. EPA has also invited all participants to submit their own success stories, to be published and distributed by EPA in the Fall of 1996, highlighting their experiences and the significant environmental accomplishments they achieved voluntarily as members of the 33/50 Program.

Q114 Did the 33/50 Program end at the end of 1995?

A While the 33/50 Program's ultimate 50% reduction goal was targeted for 1995, EPA encouraged companies to set their own reduction goals and not to be constrained by the Program's national time frames. Some 33/50 Program companies have set pollution reduction goals that extend well past 1995. Furthermore, while many company reduction projects may be completed by the end of 1995, EPA must wait for 1995 TRI data to be reported and assembled in 1997 to analyze and report on the full extent of 33/50 Program achievements. Accordingly, EPA's administration of the 33/50 Program did not terminate at the close of the 1995 calendar year.

Q115 What is EPA planning to do as a follow-up to the 33/50 Program?

A EPA solicited input from interested parties throughout 1995 to help determine whether there should be a next generation of the 33/50 Program and, if so, how a next generation voluntary toxics reduction initiative should be designed and administered. Approximately two-thirds of the written comments received favored continuing the 33/50 Program in one form or another.

EPA and its state, industrial, and environmental partners are continuing to deliberate over what kind of program would serve best as a follow-up to the 33/50 Program's successes. EPA will announce plans for a next generation of the 33/50 Program once this open decision-making process has been completed.

Q116 What company recognition activities is EPA planning for 33/50 Program participants throughout the remaining life of the Program?

A All companies that enrolled in the 33/50 Program received Certificates of Appreciation signed by the Administrator, and their names have been listed by EPA in periodic 33/50 Program Progress Reports, at Program conferences and events, and in various EPA communications and other environmental publications. EPA provided special recognition for approximately 300 participants, when the Program exceeded its 1992 national interim goal, for particularly rapid reductions in their releases and transfers of our target chemicals. In its November issue of Chemical Engineering magazine, the McGraw-Hill Corporation saluted eighteen 33/50 Program participants as Environmental Champions for their voluntary efforts to reduce their toxics emissions. The publication included letters of congratulation from both Vice President Al Gore and EPA Administrator Carol Browner.

To celebrate this year's early achievement of the Program's 50% goal, EPA is planning a major national conference to be held in Washington, DC, in September 1996. The conference will bring together decision-makers from industry, government, academia, and public interest groups in a thought provoking, analytical, and action-oriented arena to advance the role of voluntarism and partnership in pursuing the principles of environmental protection and pollution prevention. Companies that have been featured in 33/50 Program Company Profiles and that submit their own "Success Stories" will be invited to publicize their pollution reduction activities throughout the conference.

Source: USEPA 1994 Toxics Release Inventory Public Data Release (EPA 745-R-96-002, June 1996).

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