Industry Toxic Release

To assess the sustainability of different sub-sectors within industry, data were taken from EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, which tracks harmful chemicals released from facilities by air, water, or land (such as landfills). The Toxic Release Inventory was established as part of a series of community right-to-know laws that were passed in the 1980’s. The following sub-sectors were assessed: Vehicle Manufacturing, Chemical Manufacturing, Paper Mills, Textiles, and Furniture Manufacturing.

For the year 2015, Indiana was the 4th largest producer of hazardous compounds by weight in the United States (EPA 2016). Indiana trailed behind Arkansas, Nevada, and Texas, respectively. Other large producers were Ohio and Illinois, suggesting that Midwestern states generate a large proportion of hazardous waste relative to their populations. For this reason, it is important to examine which states in our study are producing the most compounds in which sectors.


Metrics and Data Sources

Metric Name Definition Data Source
Toxic Release Inventory, Total Releases (for specific sub-industry) The total pounds of waste for on and off-site releases from facilities, for a specific sub-industry. Environmental Protection Agency, []
State Population The calculated number of people living in an area as of a specified point in time, usually July 1st. The estimated population is calculated using a component of change model that incorporates information on natural increase (births, deaths) and net migration (net domestic migration, net international migration) that has occurred in an area since the latest decennial census (via U.S. Census Bureau


State VehicleTRI ChemTRI PaperTRI TextileTRI FurnitureTRI Avg Sc Rank
IL 5 8 4 8 5 6 7
IN 9 7 2 3 10 6.2 8
IA 3 5 3 3 9 4.6 3
KY 8 9 5 3 7 6.4 9.5
MI 10 6 7 3 2 5.6 6
MN 2 3 8 4 8 5 4
OH 7 10 6 6 3 6.4 9.5
WA 6 1 9 5 1 4.4 2
WI 4 2 10 7 4 5.4 5
WV 1 4 1 3 6 3 1


Metric Findings

  • Indiana has an average score of 6.2, ranking it 8th among the ten states under study. This ranking suggests that Indiana has a larger output of toxic wastes relative to most other states in the Midwest.
  • Indiana ranks 10th for hazardous substances released for furniture manufacturing, suggesting it has the largest furniture industry of the ten states.
  • Indiana’s best ranking was for paper mills, where it ranked 2nd, because it has a very small paper mill industry. The only associated chemicals were for paper finishing products, not actual pulp manufacturing mills.
  • Indiana ranks lower for toxic waste from industries even where they have a similar population or industry output, suggesting Indiana needs to improve its efforts towards pollution reduction.

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