How many facilities does Thru.de cover?
The number of facilities rose from 4,448 in 2007 to 4,947 in 2010. Only facilities in certain sectors of industry which exceed a specified production volume or level of performance are required to report their pollutant releases and waste amounts on Thru.de. They must only report the types of waste and pollutants when they exceed the respective, established threshold levels..
The majority of facilities in Thru.de – some two-thirds – dispose of more than two tonnes of hazardous waste per year. Some 30% dispose of 2,000 tonnes of non-hazardous waste per year. A somewhat smaller proportion registers air pollution. Water pollution and discharges through wastewater (e.g. to municipal wastewater treatment plants) are reported by about 10% of the facilities. The number of facilities reporting water pollution is dropping slowly, whereas the number with pollutant discharges in wastewater seems to be on the rise. The share of facilities with pollutant inputs to soil is nominal at a mere 0.1%. Most of the facilities can be classified into more than one category, e.g. both 'hazardous waste' and 'air pollution'. As a result, the sum of the per cent figures shown here is not 100% but rather higher.
The ten pollutants with the largest volumes of inputs to the environment (air, soil, water, wastewater) make up our "Top 10 Pollutants". The figure for 2010 clearly shows that a 'major polluter' can be identified for most of these pollutants. 'Major polluter' refers to a sector of industry whose share of the pollution reported in Thru.de is particularly high.
The major polluter by far for carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) is the energy industry. The second highest-ranking chlorides are caused in almost equal part by the chemical industry and the minerals processing industry, followed by waste and wastewater management (municipal wastewater treatment plants in particular). It should be noted that total chloride volumes owe to discharges into water, inputs to soil as well as to releases in wastewater.
The major polluter for carbon monoxide emissions (CO) is the metalworking industry. The minerals processing industry – and coal mining in particular – is the major polluter for methane emissions, closely followed by waste and wastewater management and landfills in particular. Nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide emissions, similarly to CO2, originate mainly in the energy industry, although their lead over the next closest sectors is much narrower.
The main sources of total organic carbon (TOC) are the chemical industry, the food industry, and the paper and wood industry. However, waste and wastewater management, especially wastewater treatment plants, were also responsible for a large share of TOC volumes. Emissions to water and discharges in wastewater are grouped together in this graph. Wastewater treatment facilities are also the major polluters for total nitrogen.
The sector "Other industries" had the largest share of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) emissions. This sector includes facilities where surfaces are coated with solvents, such as automobile manufacturers and paint shops in particular. Intensive livestock production is the clear leader in ammonia emissions (NH3). The chemical and minerals processing industries represent smaller shares.
The Top 10 List focuses on pollutants of which the various industries emit especially high volumes to the environment. However, it also pays to research Thru.de for pollutants reported in very small amounts. These are often very problematic substances such as dioxins and furans, PCB as well as heavy metals such as mercury or cadmium, which can be hazardous to the environment in even the smallest of concentrations.