EPA policy rewards small businesses

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revised its Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) form, which will reward U.S. small businesses for environmental stewardship. According to Thomas S. Sullivan, the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy's chief council for advocacy, the incentives of using the shorter TRI form and less burdensome analysis will encourage small businesses to recycle hazardous chemicals instead of discarding them into the environment.

"Every year, small businesses with zero emissions or discharges of hazardous chemicals still are required to fill out the long TRI Form R that can take two weeks or more to complete," Sullivan says. "This chemical handling data is separate from reports required for spills and accidents, and the Form R takes more than a year to be incorporated into the TRI database. Small-business environmental stewards should be rewarded for superior environmental performance rather than be punished by being required to complete the long form."

EPA's TRI reform will help the environment and small businesses by reducing the amount of paperwork small businesses are required to complete. Research from the Office of Advocacy shows small businesses are disproportionately affected by federal regulations. For the smallest firms, the annual regulatory burden in 2004 was $7,647 per employee, which is nearly 1 1/2 times greater than the $5,282 annual regulatory burden for larger companies. Additionally, the research shows small firms spend more than 4 1/2 times more per employee for environmental compliance than larger businesses.