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V. Materials Accounting

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


Q36 What is materials accounting?

A Materials accounting is a tool that tracks the use and flow of chemicals through manufacturing processes. Data elements that may be considered part of a materials accounting program could include: quantity of chemical brought on-site, quantity of chemical produced on-site, quantity of chemical consumed in the manufacturing process, quantity of chemical contained in product, quantity of chemical contained in waste.

Q37 Why is EPA interested in expanding TRI to collect materials accounting information under EPCRA?

A Communities and public interest groups have indicated to EPA that there are gaps in existing Right-to-Know information and that materials accounting information would be useful, not only to them, but to the government and industry itself. These groups believe that materials accounting data, in the hands of the public, would provide information that would aid in studies on a variety of issues including, but not limited to, trend information on chemical use patterns, the quantity of toxics in products, worker health and safety issues, and promoting and tracking pollution prevention activities.

Q38 What are the concerns voiced about the collection of materials accounting information under EPCRA?

A The most common concerns about the collection of materials accounting information voiced to EPA include the potential loss of confidential business information to competitors, whether EPA has the legislative authority to collect this type of information, and the public's ability to interpret and use this type of information. The basic need for the collection and public dissemination of chemical use information has been questioned by some stakeholders. Some people believe that the collection of materials accounting data would cause duplicative reporting because some industrial facilities may already be required to report this or similar information under other environmental statutes. Industry spokespersons are also concerned that a materials accounting program would impose an excessive reporting burden to industry.

Q39 Does EPA plan to expand the reporting requirements to include the collection of materials accounting information? Does EPA expect to come out with a proposed rule for the implementation of a materials accounting program?

A EPA is committed to strengthening the public's Right-toKnow. EPA is presently examining the issues related to the collection and dissemination of materials accounting information to determine if there are data gaps that could be filled by expansion of TRI. Two public meetings have been held on this topic, in September 1994 and in October 1995. After reviewing the comments from these meetings, EPA has developed steps for further analyses. For example, EPA will evaluate the two state programs (New Jersey and Massachusetts) that already collect materials accounting information; existing, internal EPA databases for overlap of relevant materials accounting information; the potential to collect occupational health and safety information; and concerns about potential loss of confidential business information as a result of reporting.

EPA is still examining the issues surrounding a materials accounting program. As the benefits and concerns are studied and assessed, EPA will report back to the public with its plans on this issue.

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

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