Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the National Pollutant Release Inventory

What is the National Pollutant Release Inventory?

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) provides Canadians with facility-specific information regarding the release (to air, water, and land), disposal and recycling of more than 300 substances. These include substances that meet the criteria under section 64 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) (i.e. toxic substances), pollutants that contribute to smog, poor air quality and acid rain (i.e. air pollutants), and other substances of concern.

As specified in an annual Notice in the Canada Gazette, industrial and commercial facilities that meet the NPRI reporting criteria must report to Environment Canada. The information collected is then made available to Canadians.

What sections of CEPA 1999 cover the NPRI?

The NPRI is covered under sections 46 to 53 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). Section 46 addresses the creation of inventories of data; section 48 states that the Minister shall establish a national inventory of releases of pollutants; section 50 states that the Minister shall publish this inventory; and sections 47, 49, and 51-53 contain guidelines for the collection and publication of inventory data.

Why specifically include the NPRI in this legislation?

The federal government considers the information provided by the NPRI vital to its efforts to reduce releases of substances of concern to the environment and to protect the health of Canadians.

The NPRI provides Canadians with information on releases and transfers in their communities. It is also used by the Department in its management of toxic substances and air pollutants. The publication of this information encourages companies to voluntarily reduce their releases and transfers and allows the Government of Canada to track reductions or increases. The NPRI also helps governments determine if regulatory action is necessary to ensure reductions and, if so, the form that action should take.

What information must be reported to the NPRI?

If a facility meets the NPRI reporting criteria as specified in the Canada Gazette Notice for a particular year, the company must report the following:

  • information about the company, its location and the number of employees;
  • information about each substance that meets the reporting criteria, including the substance name, and the nature of the activities (such as whether the substance is manufactured, processed or otherwise used at the facility);
  • the quantity of the substance that is released at the facility (to water, air or land) or disposed of at the facility;
  • the quantity of the substance that is transferred to another location for final disposal, treatment prior to disposal (specifying the nature of treatment), or recycling or energy recovery, and the address of the receiving facility;
  • the reasons for year-to-year changes in releases, disposals and recycling;
  • information on expected changes in releases, disposals and recycling (mandatory for the three years following the reporting year);
  • information on the types of pollution-prevention activities undertaken at the facility.

Is the NPRI information accessible to Canadians?

Section 50 of CEPA 1999 specifically directs the Minister to publish a national inventory of releases of pollutants. All information reported to the NPRI that is considered non-confidential is made available to Canadians. Confidentiality provisions are addressed in sections 51 to 53 of CEPA 1999.

Further information


For specific inquiries regarding the NPRI:

Environment Canada,
Pollution Data Branch
351 St. Joseph Blvd.
Gatineau QC KIA OH3
Tel: (819) 994-4073
Fax: (819) 994-3266

Inquiry Centre:

Environment Canada
10 Wellington Street
23rd floor, Place Vincent Massey
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3
Telephone: 1 800 668-6767 [in Canada only] or 819-997-2800
Fax: 819-994-1412
TTY: 819-994-0736

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