For the last 30 years, the NEA Thermochemical Database (TDB) Project (www.oecd-nea.org/dbtdb/) has been developing a chemical thermodynamic database for elements relevant to the safety of radioactive waste repositories, providing data that are vital to support the geochemical modeling of such systems. The recommended data are selected on the basis of strict review procedures and are characterized by their consistency. The results of these efforts are freely available, and have become an international point of reference in the field. As a result, a number of important national initiatives with regard to waste management programs have used the NEA TDB as their basis, both in terms of recommended data and guidelines. In this article we describe the fundamentals and achievements of the project together with the characteristics of some databases developed in national nuclear waste disposal programs that have been influenced by the NEA TDB. We also give some insights on how this work could be seen as an approach to be used in broader areas of environmental interest.