The Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) requires Massachusetts companies that use large quantities of specific toxic chemicals to evaluate and plan for pollution prevention opportunities, implement them if practical, and measure and report their results on an annual basis. They must also evaluate their efforts and update their toxics use reduction plans every other year.
Jointly supported by industry and environmental groups, TURA (M.G.L. Chapter 21I) was passed unanimously by both houses of the state Legislature and signed into law by Governor Michael S. Dukakis on July 24, 1989. TURA committed Massachusetts to:
- Reduce the generation of toxic waste by 50 percent statewide (this was accomplished by 1998);
- Establish toxics use reduction (TUR) as the preferred means for achieving compliance with federal and state environmental, public health and work safety laws and regulations;
- Provide and maintain competitive advantages for Massachusetts businesses, both large and small, while advancing innovation in cleaner production techniques;
- Enhance and strengthen environmental law enforcement across the state; and
- Promote coordination and cooperation among all state agencies that administer toxics-related programs.
After 15 years of successful program implementation, major amendments to TURA were passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Governor Mitt Romney on July 28, 2006. These amendments:
- Streamlined the reporting and planning requirements;
- Established categorization of chemicals as high hazard and low hazard with different reporting thresholds and fees; and
- Provided options for resource conservation planning (e.g., energy, water, materials) and environmental management systems (EMSs) to supplement toxics use reduction plans.
Four separate organizations share responsibility for ensuring that the environmental and economic goals of the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) are being met.
- The Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), through its Bureau of Waste Prevention, is responsible for implementing TURA. MassDEP certifies TUR Planners, receives and reviews toxics use reports submitted by companies subject to TURA requirements, provides guidance to both, takes enforcement actions against non-reporters, manages collected data and makes it available to the public, and evaluates the state's overall progress as it works toward the goals of TURA.
- The Office of Technical Assistance and Technology (OTA) is a non-regulatory agency within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs that provides free, confidential, on-site technical and compliance consultations to manufacturers, businesses and institutions. OTA also facilitates the development of innovative TUR technologies and sponsors workshops and conferences that focus on toxics use reduction activities for specific industry sectors.
- The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), on the Lowell campus of the University of Massachusetts, provides TUR education and training for professionals and the general public, conducts a technology transfer program and sponsors research into the development of cleaner, safer production materials and technologies. The Institute consults with an eleven-member Science Advisory Board on issues such as the addition or deletion of chemicals from the TURA chemical list and the designation of chemicals as higher or lower hazard.
- The six-member Administrative Council on Toxics Use Reduction brings together representatives of state agencies responsible for environmental protection, public health, occupational safety, public safety and economic development. Assisted by an Advisory Committee of stakeholders, the Council promotes industrial development that enhances the environment and improves overall quality of life in Massachusetts.
Each year, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) issues an annual report on the use of toxic chemicals in Massachusetts reported under the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA). TURA progress is measured by using reported data (excluding trade secret data) normalized for changes in production and using a consistent set of chemicals and industries subject to reporting over a given period of time (referred to as a "Core Group").
In 2005, the total amount of toxic chemicals reported used (excluding trade secret data) was 887 million pounds. In 2005, the 2000 Core Group (industry categories and chemicals subject to reporting in 2000 and 2005) used 795 million pounds, or 90 percent of the toxic chemicals reported used. Adjusting the data to account for a 15 percent decrease in production from 2000 to 2005, over that five-year period, the 2000 Core Group facilities:
- Reduced toxic chemical use by 9 percent
- Reduced toxic byproducts by 21 percent
- Increased toxics shipped in product by 2 percent
- Reduced on-site releases of toxics to the environment by 29 percent
- Reduced transfers of toxics off-site for further waste management by 32 percent
In 2005, the 1990 Core Group (industry categories and chemicals subject to reporting in 1990 and 2005) used 491 million pounds, or 55 percent of the toxic chemicals reported used. Adjusting the data to account for a 9 percent increase in production from 1990 to 2005, over that 15-year period the 1990 Core Group facilities reduced:
- Toxic chemical use by 40 percent
- Toxic byproducts by 71 percent
- Toxics shipped in product by 41 percent
- On-site releases of toxics to the environment by 91 percent
- Transfers of toxics off-site for further waste management by 60 percent
Today, the Massachusetts TUR program is a national leader in pollution prevention and demonstrable reductions in toxic chemical use and waste, having won awards and recognition for government innovation and environmental achievement.
As they have worked to comply with TURA, companies across the state have found that they can lower their environmental permitting, production and waste management costs by:
- Changing and modernizing production practices;
- Improving operation and maintenance;
- Reformulating products with non-toxic ingredients; and
- Recycling raw materials throughout the production process.
By emphasizing industrial efficiency and pollution prevention, toxics use reduction (TUR) benefits the economy, the environment and the overall quality of life in Massachusetts.