Top 10 Environmental Issues

How does any company navigate its way from regulatory compliance tasks – which cost time, effort, and money – to the bottom-line returns of sustainability and environmental stewardship? Let’s look at the issues first, and then list a myriad of strategies that bring the fruits of smart thinking to every good corporate citizen.

The top ten environmental issues are these:

  •  Climate Change.
  •  Energy.
  •  Water.
  •  Biodiversity and Land Use.
  •  Chemicals, Toxics and Heavy Metals.
  •  Air Pollution.
  •  Waste Management.
  •  Ozone Layer Depletion.
  •  Oceans and Fisheries.
  •  Deforestation.

Discussing each of these issues in depth goes beyond the scope of this segment of Vanguard’s website. However, if there are still disbelievers around the country about our own human fingerprint as a cause of climate change and global warming, the reader is urged to visit this link:

Global Compliance Initiatives for Industry

Vanguard’s outreach to the world finds great purpose in assisting industry on a global scale with its collective environmental compliance challenges. Not just any company has a $25,000,000 intellectual property lying around to help grapple with the myriad of environmental compliance challenges it faces. That’s what brings Vanguard to anyone’s table…the capability of bringing what is popularly known as an Environmental Management System (EMS) to the client – no matter where such a facility is located – to virtually any industrialized nation on the planet. What makes Vanguard’s EMS so special is what it can do. Of course, a key stipulation must always meet the specs of the environmental regulations imposed upon industry within any given geo-political jurisdiction, which means a company’s compliance must always be site-specific per the laws that bind.

To our knowledge, Vanguard’s regulatory compliance databases are the largest in the U.S. and Canada. But size is of little consequence if performance is not first and foremost.

For example, of over 60 U.S. regulatory compliance laws, 15 of them require the execution of the Aggregate Total Ruling. There are 19 laws in Canada requiring the Aggregate Total Ruling. This rule requires that, when two or more products contain the same chemical constituent, all constituents of the same makeup (those identified as having the same Chemical Abstract Service Number (CAS #) must be combined for an aggregate quantity in order to meet the specs (i.e., thresholds) of such regulations. Think of it: regulations are written by environmental scientists to account for adverse impact to human health, bio-life forms – plant and animal life – and the environment-at-large. Therefore, we must understand the essence of thresholds. There are four (4) major threshold categories by which environmental regulations are established by governmental environmental protection agencies.

  1. Inventory Thresholds. The purpose behind this type of threshold is that of emergency response in industrial settings where chemical hazards are prevalent. Therefore, inventory thresholds are set in units of measurement, generally lbs. or kilograms, or whatever unit of measurement is common within a nation’s language or culture. Can you imagine an emergency response team coming into a manufacturing facility without having an idea of the chemical hazards are in the plant in advance? Think of the Bhopal, India disaster in 1984, when no such laws for the purpose of emergency response existed. There is no mystery why so many people were killed by a release of methylisocyanate to that community. There were no emergency response procedures established there, or practically anywhere in the world. This is why laws, such as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA – 1986), were signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in the United States. Also called SARA Title III, Section 302 of that law requires the execution of the Aggregate Total Ruling.
  2. Annual-Usage Thresholds. The purpose this type of threshold is that of ascertaining the amount of adverse impact on the environment, including the community-at-large. In other words, over a period of time – say a year – how much toxicity might escape from a facility under standard operating procedures? This happens in facilities of all kinds through manufacturing, processing, fumes, dusts, vapors, etc. so many of which are invisible to the naked eye. They escape in minute amounts of such media in the size of microns and nanomaterials. A nanomaterial has been described as a particle 1/70th the width of a human hair. Annual-usage thresholds are also measured by the quantity of chemical hazards released to the environment, again, in lbs., or kilograms, or whatever unit of measurement is common within a nation’s language or culture. EPCRA, Section 313 (aka Toxic Release Inventory) in the U.S. and the National Pollution Release Inventory in Canada are two laws which require the execution of the Aggregate Total Ruling. There are 0ver 50 nations throughout the world that have enacted similar legislation to track releases of toxic chemicals to the environment. They are most widely known within the genre of Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR). The purpose is extremely similar among them all. For certain, the world is shrinking when it comes to environmental protection.
  3. Emissions Thresholds. The purpose of this type of threshold is fairly obvious. Emissions thresholds are established in order to monitor ambient air quality. It should not be confused with indoor air quality, but conditions of air quality external to facilities. Emissions thresholds are measured in tons (2,000 lbs. in the U.S.) or metric tonnes (1,000 kg; or 2,200 lbs.). [The general population in the U.S. is still not very good in working with the metric system.] All laws within the context of air emissions require the execution of the Aggregate Total Ruling.
  4. Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) (aka Occupational Exposure Limits – OELS). We’ve arrived at the area where concerns are expressed by health and safety agencies about the quality of indoor air. In industrial facilities, employees can be literally poisoned by breathing air contaminants. These are chemical hazards known to cause various illnesses, cancer, breathing disorders, and even death. The language may change from one nation to the nation, but the contaminants cause the same kinds of problems to human workforces, no matter where industrial plants operate. In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established PELs for 547 air contaminants. Thresholds for these contaminants are expressed in Parts Per Million (PPM) and Parts Per Billion (PPB). But that is only half the story, literally. Due to the sanctity of human life, governments typically establish an action level at half the PEL. The action level, therefore, is the point at which a compliance activity must be initiated by employers and owners/operators of industrialized facilities.


Agreement Between Canada and the United States on the Trans-Boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste:

Agreement Between Canada and the United States on Air Quality

Basil Convention

Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro

Framework on Climate Change (Bonn, Germany - 2018)

GHS Implementation by Each Country

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Guidance on Textiles and Leather
European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR)

Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL)

International Fragrance Association
Prohibited - Restricted - Specification Substances Lists

Kyoto Protocol

Minimata Convention (Geneva, Switzerland)

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation

North American Chemicals Agreement Framework (Montebello Agreement)
OECD: Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers Global Portal to PRTR Information

Roadmap to Zero - Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL) & Conformity Guidance

SIN List (Substitute It Now!)
The “Substitute It Now” List
A Valuable Tool: Search your chemicals and we can identify if they are on the SIN List. If not, the SIN tool can tell you if they are similar to the SIN listed chemicals. Provided by the International Chemical Secretariat

Stockholm Convention

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
UNECE: Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers PRTR

Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer

International Regulations to Protect the Environment

Now that the United Kingdom has fully separated from its commitment to the EU’s regulatory compliance directives, Vanguard will release its EMS EU/REACH! by January, 2022, in order to serve facilities throughout the 27 member states of the European Union. Yet, we will include the UK and its compliance directives as a part of EU/REACH!. Obviously, it will be constructed similarly to its parent EMSs. But, the EMS for the EU must adhere to EU directives, as described above, plus many more. There are many laws, with tens of thousands of chemical hazards, along with various thresholds. The EU directive for the Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) requires a screening of over 106,000 chemical hazards. REACH revolves around an annual-usage threshold of one metric tonne. Ouch! That threshold is awfully low, which is all the more reason why Vanguard’s intellectual property is so direly needed through EU. If that’s not complex enough, EU’s Directive on the Classification, Labeling, and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP) requires the screening of some 146,000 substances.

European Pollutant Release Transfer Registry(EPRTR)

The European Commission has identified 91 toxic chemical candidates among 65 industrial sectors to be screened for manufacturing or importing in excess of specified release thresholds. However, through its own research, Vanguard has identified a total of 216 toxic candidates under E-PRTR, as verified by separate and unique Chemical Abstract Service Numbers (CAS #’s) for each chemical substance. Of course, chemical compounds, and the like, though reportable as directed by the EC, are not readily identifiable with CAS #’s.

The European PRTR (E-PRTR) implements a protocol, which was signed by the European Community and 23 Member States in May 2003 in Kiev and which is a Protocol to the Aarhus Convention2. The E-PRTR succeeded the European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER3) under which data was reported for the years 2004 and 2014. The E-PRTR Regulation enhances public access to environmental information through the establishment of a coherent and integrated E-PRTR, thereby finally also contributing to the prevention and reduction of toxic pollution, delivering data for policy makers and facilitating public participation in environmental decision making. The Regulation establishes an integrated pollutant release and transfer register at the European Community level in the form of a publicly accessible electronic database and lays down rules for its functioning, in order to implement the UN-ECE Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers and facilitate public participation in environmental decision making, as well as contributing to the prevention and reduction of pollution of the environment.

The E-PRTR Regulation includes specific information on releases of pollutants to air, water, land and off-site transfers of waste and of pollutants in wastewater. That data has to be reported by operators of facilities carrying out specific activities. In addition, the E-PRTR includes data on releases from diffuse sources, e.g. road traffic and domestic heating, where such data is available.

Thresholds Based on Releases to the Environment (not annual throughput of chemical usage)

In comparison to Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) in the United States, thresholds for E-PRTR Reporting are quite different. For TRI Reporting (aka Form R under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act), thresholds are established on the amount of any specified chemical – among 859 toxic chemical candidates – that move through a facility during the stage of “manufacturing, processing, or otherwise use.” Once this so-called annual throughput of chemical has been exceeded, as expressed in pounds, the reporter must conduct calculations on how much of that specific chemical is released to the environment.

For E-PRTR, the reporter must go directly to calculating an exceedance of the specified “release threshold” and report that release if it has exceeded the release threshold assigned from chemical to chemical by the European Commission. This makes E-PRTR reporting much more difficult than TRI Reporting and can easily exceed the 52.1 hours per chemical projected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency needed to report under TRI.

Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs)

Worldwide Compliance Through the Tracking of Toxic Chemicals and Related Pollutants Adversely Impacting the Environment

A Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) is a publicly accessible database or inventory of chemicals or pollutants released to air, water and soil and transferred off-site for treatment. It brings together information about which chemicals are being released, where, how much and by whom.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has played a key role in developing the concept of a PRTR and supported the development and implementation of a PRTR in 37member nations.

The OECD Recommendation of the Council on Establishing and Implementing Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs) calls for member countries to establish and implement PRTRs. To support this effort, OECD develops practical tools and guidance on how to implement them.

What is a Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry (PRTR)?

A Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) is a publicly accessible database or inventory of chemicals or pollutants released to air, water and soil and transferred off-site for treatment. It brings together information about which chemicals are being released, where, how much and by whom.

PRTRs typically require facility owners or operators who release chemicals (e.g., in such industries as manufacturing and mining) to quantify their releases and to report them to governments on a regular basis.

Reporting can be both on emissions from fixed sources (e.g., factory smokestacks) as well as from diffuse sources (e.g., mobile sources such as automobiles, trucks, aircraft and trains).

Depending on the threshold a government sets for reporting, facilities can range from large industrial sites to small operations such as dry cleaners.

Kyiv Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers

The Kyiv Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers became international law binding its Parties on 8 October 2009. It is the only legally binding international instrument on pollutant release and transfer registers. Its objective is "to enhance public access to information through the establishment of coherent, nationwide pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs)."

PRTRs are inventories of pollution from industrial sites and other sources. Although regulating information on pollution, rather than pollution directly, the Protocol is expected to exert a significant downward pressure on levels of pollution, as no company will want to be identified as among the biggest polluters. All UN Member States can join the Protocol, including those which have not ratified the Aarhus Convention (repealed) and those which are not members of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. It is by design an 'open' global treaty.

PRTRs provide a rich source of data for multiple uses and purposes:

  • Government agencies – national, state and local – can use PRTR data to measure trends in pollutant releases and waste generation, inform environmental policy decisions, evaluate environmental programmes and, when combined with health-related information, identify potential human health and environmental risks.
  • The public can use PRTRs to: identify potential chemical exposures and risks posed by releases from nearby facilities; make informed decisions; and monitor the progress of facilities’ efforts to lessen their environmental impact.
  • Companies can use PRTR data to identify opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce waste and as a metric for evaluating their progress towards sustainable development.
  • Other stakeholders, such as non-governmental organisations, the news media and researchers benefit from access to published PRTR information – particularly when combined with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)/geographic mapping and toxicity information – to identify possible hot spots of concern or possible correlations between exposure and observed health or environmental effects.
  • Financial firms also use PRTR data to support socially responsible investments, as well as identify potential liabilities of firms and impacts on real estate prices.

Here is a link to a Global Map of PRTRs, including website links for 44 nations engaging in PRTR programs.

Worldwide Environmental Protection is “Planet Protection”

In addition to serving industry within the 27 Member States of the European Union above, Vanguard has set its course to develop Environmental Management Systems to serve industry within the 39 nations listed below. As previously mentioned, the regulations for each have been gathered. Vanguard’s intellectual property is equal to the task. Now, the combination to each nation’s ”compliance vault” is the only step involved. The path is clearly established. By 2030, all 39 EMSs will be fully developed and functional in order to serve industry’s compliance needs on a global basis.


Ode (Owed) to the United Nations Environment Programme

In the year 2032, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will measure humanity’s progress toward environmental stewardship over the first three decades of the 21st Century. There is no action more noble than ensuring future generation breathe clean air, drink fresh water and eat nutritious foods. Collectively, we have a moral imperative to send a pristine environment to the grandchildren of our grandchildren. In a civilized society, Industry’s choices are few…comply with regulatory compliance laws or face unappealing consequences. Penalties tend to come in two categories: 1. Enforcement penalties and litigation that come with non-compliance; 2. Economic Prohibitions, perhaps, even stronger influences requiring that products conform and comply with environmental regulations, which, if ignored, prohibit business from being conducted altogether. Companies and organizations, worldwide must develop a right-thing-to-do mentality for the good of mankind and our planet’s environment, and not due to a desire to avoid non-compliance penalties and lawsuits. Vanguard stands at the forefront of UNEP’s mission, to carry a global torch for Industry through environmental management systems designed for each nation or group of nations, thus to satisfy an entity’s regulatory compliance on a turnkey basis in the form of chemical reporting and management, air permitting and emissions tracking, water resources protection / permitting, and most importantly, training workforces on excellence in environmental, health and safety practices.

An Extremely Valuable Link. Click Here:

United Nations Environment Programme