We explain how long TRI Reporting takes to complete.
A lot of our customers dread the early spring for environmental regulatory reasons. For many, it means grabbing a stormwater sample to be in compliance with their NPDES stormwater permit. For others, it means Community Right-to-Know Reporting. And for some, it means Toxic Release Inventory Reporting, better known as TRI Reporting.
The big issue is, TRI Reporting is a poorly enforced, relatively unknown (depending on the industry), and somewhat confusing regulation to understand. In fact, many people wonder how long TRI Reporting takes, simply because they want to know when they should start getting the ball rolling.
Regardless, there are a few consistent ways to be able to figure out how long TRI Reporting takes to complete. But once you lay out what's involved, understand the process, and get familiar with everything, it suddenly becomes much easier to handle.
How long does TRI Reporting take to complete?
Here's the answer: It
And when I mean conducting reporting, I mean all aspects of TRI Reporting. From collecting data and notes to tracking inventories and quantities of reportable chemicals, to the actual reporting task itself. It could be a walk in the park, or it could be a several
Really, there's no universal or easy way to answer this question. Instead, let's take a look at the four biggest factors that impact how long it takes to do TRI Reporting.
Have you ever conducted TRI Reporting before?
It goes without saying but if you’re new to this, it will take you a longer amount of time.
The reason why is because this reporting is really complicated and asks specific, detailed questions regarding information about your operation. Even for people who've done it a few times, this is still a tough regulation to get comfortable with.
This reporting is submitted directly to the USEPA, so that alone might seem daunting to some! You're using software specific to this regulation, so your first time reporting could take some time getting used to. You definitely want to take your time and get this right the first time because the penalties for speeding through this and possibly entering wrong data are extreme!
Do you run a complex facility?
The first thing to know is TRI Reporting is dependant on your NAICS code. We cover the codes in detail in our article What NAICS codes are subject to TRI Reporting? In short, there are a bunch of different facilities and industries covered, such as:
- Food Manufacturing
- Textile and Leather Manufacturing
- Chemical, Plastic, and Rubber Manufacturing
- Electrical Equipment Manufacturing
- Furniture Manufacturing
- Surgical Appliance Manufacturing
- Wholesalers of Chemicals, Petroleum, and Electronics
- Various Publishing industries, such as books, newspapers, greeting cards, etc.
- Hazardous Waste Treatment & Disposal
The list goes on and on and on! While I'm not an expert at understanding how every type of industrial operation works, I would imagine the complexities of a food manufacturing operation are pretty different from a landfill, electronics manufacturer, or newspaper publishing facility. And, there's a big difference between the complexities of operations within that one industry. Are you a giant in your industry, or just a mom & pop sized operation?
If you have a super complicated operation or even multiple facilities, this can slow down the process based solely on the amount of time it will take you to gather all the information. The amount of data you must gather is immense and to do that for one facility using one or two toxic chemicals will take some time. But now think of a facility using 75 toxic chemicals, or 5 facilities using 20 toxic chemicals each. You can see how gathering the information can take lots and lots of time, and the more chemicals/facilities you have to gather information for, the longer this process can take.
Did you wait too long to complete TRI Reporting?
Yes, believe it or not, sometimes you cannot access the reporting software online, especially if you waited until the last minute. Why? Because you and a few thousand other folks are doing the same thing, overloading the reporting software and crashing the site.
Technology is becoming better so this problem is going away slightly, but it’s still a possibility. These reports must be submitted online using the software provided by the EPA. Sometimes, due to website/software traffic, you can’t access the software and can’t conduct your reporting. Sometimes the software is down for maintenance!
Whatever the reason might be that prohibits you from accessing the software online, this can slow down the reporting process. If you can’t get on one day, now this is stretching into a multi-day process, just for the online reporting.
Also, the USEPA doesn't take this as an acceptable reason for reporting late. It's like asking for an extension on your term paper because your printer broke at 7:30 in the morning before the paper was due in your 8:00 am class! You shouldn't have waited so long!
Point being - don't wait until the last minute!
Are your TRI Reporting notes organized?
This should be a given, but you'd be shocked at how many people can't keep their paperwork straight! If your paperwork is a mess, you're unorganized, or you're just not keeping track of things, this can, and will, slow the process drastically.
Conversely, if you’re organized and have all your information right in front of you, then you can work through the reporting process relatively quickly. The reports ask a lot of detailed questions and the more you have to search for the answers the longer this will take.
Being prepared will help you get through the process efficiently and effectively.
TRI Reporting takes as long as it needs to.
TRI Reporting is a super complicated, detailed, and laborious process. The penalties for doing it wrong are immense.
Whether this could actually take you 15 minutes or not, you should take your time. In reality, this is something that could take hours, to days, to weeks, to months even to complete, and complete correctly.
Remember, you report for the previous year, like taxes, meaning you have 6 monhts to get this done because your reports are due on July 1st. So don't wait and put this off until last minute. Get going on this as soon as possible to ensure that you get this done and submitted on time.