National Pollutant Release Inventory for Canada: final report, chapter 1


This report recommends the design and reporting procedures for the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), a comprehensive inventory of specified substances released into the Canadian environment. It is proposed by a Multistakeholder Advisory Committee of representatives from industry, environmental groups, labour, and the federal and provincial governments.

Despite their differing constituencies and points of view, Committee members came to a consensus on many aspects of NPRI design, implementation, and operations. With the groundwork laid, the Committee recommends that the inventory be established in 1993.

The NPRI is modelled on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory, and the Canadian Chemical Producers Association's National Emission Reduction Master Plan, but seeks to improve on them.

Some of the general principles that will govern the NPRI are:

  • Reporting to the NPRI should be a relatively simple process; not unreasonably burdensome to facilities that must report.

  • The reporting requirements of the NPRI and other Canadian release inventories should be harmonized for the sake of those who must report to several.

  • Data gathered by the NPRI should be publicly accessible, and the inventory should eventually offer "one-stop shopping" for information on releases in Canada.

  • The NPRI list of substances should be categorized as a list of substances of concern that are released into Canada's environment.


  1. Any facility that manufactures, processes or otherwise uses 10 tonnes or more (annually) of a substance on the NPRI list, and whose employees collectively work 20,000 or more person-hours a year would have to report on substance releases and transfers.1

  2. Although the NPRI will be comprehensive, certain types of facilities will be exempt from reporting because they are likely not to meet the reporting conditions; they face unusual difficulties in reporting; or it is more practical to obtain release estimates by other means.

  3. For the 1993 reporting year, the NPRI will require details on 178 substances, including: the origin and activities involving the substance at the facility; the quantity released into the environment; any seasonal variations in releases; the quantities shipped off-site in waste; and, in the second and subsequent years of reporting, any changes in quantities released or transferred off-site from year to year, and the reasons why.

  4. For efficiency and economy, the Committee recommends a computer-based reporting system.

  5. Section 16 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) should be used as the legislative authority for the NPRI. This would allow an early launch of operations.


While the Committee has established the NPRI's basic design, there remain unresolved issues, and others requiring additional work.

The unresolved issues relate to: widening the inventory's purpose; details of reporting conditions; listing substances in which the public has a special interest (e.g. PCBs, pesticides); reporting quantities of listed substances manufactured, processed or otherwise used; and confidentiality of data.


The Committee recommends using the consultation process to resolve outstanding issues. It also suggests that additional work should focus on: the costs of NPRI reporting; the NPRI list of substances, and a process for up-dating the list; a review of exemptions; how to best disseminate NPRI data; and a specific legislative authority for the inventory, tailored to its needs and objectives.

The Committee recommends a five-year review of the NPRI to evaluate experience gained in the context of the state of environmental protection at that time.

1 Terms that are specific to this report may be found in the definitions listed in the appendices at the back of the report.

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