Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory: data highlights 2016

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) collects information from Canadian industrial, commercial and institutional facilities on their releases (to air, water and land), disposals, and transfers of pollutants and other substances of concern. Since 1993, owners or operators of facilities that have met the NPRI reporting requirements have reported on an annual basis. Data from the NPRI help track pollution patterns and trends across Canada.

Releases, disposals and transfers

In 2016, 7 087 facilities reported to the NPRI a total of 4 763 017 tonnes covering over 320 substances:

  • 3 187 308 tonnes of pollutants were released directly to the environment
  • 1 227 598 tonnes were disposed to landfilles, applied to land or injected underground, either on the facility site or off-site
  • 348 111 tonnes were transferred off the facility site for treatment prior to final disposal or for recycling and energy recovery

 

Breakdown of the total quantities reported in 2016, by reporting category

Long description
Breakdown of the total quantities reported in 2016, by reporting category
Direct releases category Reported quantities (tonnes) Percentage of total reported quantities
Criteria air contaminants 2 955 060 62%
Air (other substances) 82 504 2%
Water 131 518 3%
Land 17 835 <1%
Unspecified media (less than one tonne) 392 <1%
Total reported releases 3 187 308 67%
Disposals and transfers category Reported quantities (tonnes) Percentage of total reported quantities
On-site disposals 228 336 5%
Off-site disposals 90 706 2%
Treatment prior to disposal 40 067 1%
Tailings 779 865 16%
Waste rock 128 689 3%
Transfers for off-site recycling 308 044 6%
Total reported disposals and transfers 1 575 709 33%

Total quantities reported to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI): 4 763 017 tonnes

Source: NPRI data from September 14th, 2017

In 2016, pollutants most often released to air, such as carbon monoxide (CO) and sulphur dioxide (SO2), were pollutants causing problems like smog and acid rain.

Pollutants most often released to water were nitrate ion solutions, ammonia and phosphorus.

The pollutant most often released to land was ethylene glycol, used as an antifreeze and de-icer for cars and aircraft.

Between 2007 and 2016, releases to the environment reported to the NPRI decreased by nearly 28% (1 247 584 tonnes):

  • releases to air decreased by 30% ( 1 273 049 tonnes)
  • releases to water increased by 12% (13 512 tonnes)
  • releases to land increased by 2% (12 347 tonnes)
  • releases of substances (that is unspecified media) where the total release quantity was less than one tonne decreased by 50% (394 tonnes)

 

Total direct releases between 2007 and 2016

Long description
Total direct releases between 2007 and 2016
Year Releases to air -criteria air contaminants (tonnes) Releases to air - other substances (tonnes) Releases to water (tonnes) Releases to land (tonnes) Releases to unspecified media (tonnes) Number of NPRI reporting facilities
2007 4 207 231 103 382 118 006 5 488 786 8 943
2008 3 837 010 102 783 123 567 7 504 789 8 843
2009 3 376 496 93 243 119 183 6 000 1 088 8 529
2010 3 364 455 92 744 117 060 11 167 1 924 8 151
2011 3 208 456 80 078 122 527 8 612 27 8 002
2012 3 245 706 84 869 124 459 7 042 302 7 795
2013
3 226 788 85 607 126 746 12 241 86 7 857
2014 3 089 184 83 648 202 000 13 287 404 7 863
2015 2 995 907 80 231 127 405 13 074 392 7 338
2016 2 955 060 82 504 131 518 17 835 392 7 087

Source: NPRI data from September 14th, 2017

Between 2007 and 2016, total disposals and transfers decreased by 7% (122 945 tonnes):

  • off-site disposals decreased by 78% (404 742 tonnes)
  • on-site disposals decreased by 38% (138 275 tonnes)
  • off-site transfers for recycling decreased by 23% (93 961 tonnes)
  • disposals of waste rock (rock removed to reach ore) increased by 27% (124 091 tonnes)
  • disposals of tailings (materials left when minerals are removed from ore) increased by 60% (293 130 tonnes)

 

Total disposals and transfers between 2007 and 2016

Long description
Total disposals and transfers between 2007 and 2016
Year On-site disposals (tonnes) Off-site disposals (tonnes) Tailings (tonnes) Waste rock (tonnes)
2007 366 611 404 964 486 735 4 598
2008 274 698 534 258 554 793 9 981
2009 267 439 511 789 520 248 11 992
2010 249 659 545 821 617 181 17 433
2011
284 021 341 604 580 220 21 576
2012 242 678 307 526 648 723 35 382
2013 239 176 119 574 692 769 125 426
2014 273 543 98 182 672 245 102 247
2015 270 104 99 259 738 111 79 647
2016 228 336 90 706 779 865 128 689
Year Treatment prior to disposal (tonnes) Off-site transfers for recycling (tonnes) Number of NPRI reporting facilities
2007 33 740 402 005 8 943
2008 52 586 342 443 8 843
2009 46 189 344 001 8 529
2010 49 873 389 365 8 151
2011
40 199 458 456 8 002
2012 38 175 322 300 7 795
2013 36 971 302 380 7 857
2014 43 476 306 069 7 863
2015 36 658 312 868 7 338
2016 40 067 308 044 7 087

Source: NPRI data from September 14th, 2017

Across Canada

In 2016, the majority of the 7 087 facilities reporting to the NPRI were in Alberta (2 683) and Ontario (1 667).

The majority of facilities located in Alberta were oil and gas extraction operations (shown in yellow on the map below), representing 79% of reporting facilities located in the province.

In Ontario, most of the reporting facilities were manufacturing operations (shown in blue on the map below), accounting for 68% of reporting facilities located in the province.

 

Map of facilities reporting to the NPRI for 2016, by industry sector

Map of facilities reporting to the NPRI for 2016, by industry sector
Long description
Map of facilities reporting to the NPRI for 2016, by industry sector
Province Electricity Manufacturing Mining and quarrying Oil and gas extraction Other sectors Total
Alberta 40 244 24 2 109 266 2 683
Ontario 61 1 133 102 6
365 1 667
Quebec 26 589 37 0 159 811
British Columbia 19
242 26 288
141 716
Saskatchewan 17 57 22 500
131 727
Manitoba 13 85 11 3
61
173
Nova Scotia 7
37
5 8 41
98
New Brunswick 4 39
5
0 17 65
Newfoundland & Labrador 21 7 7
4 24 63
Northwest Territories 25 0 4
2 5 36
Nunavut 25 0 5
0 4 34
Prince Edward Island 1 4
0 0 6
11
Yukon 1
0 1 0 1 3

This table shows the location of the 7 087 facilities that met the 2016 NPRI reporting criteria. 944 additional facilities reported but did not meet the criteria. For consistency, those additional facilities are not included in the calculation.

Source: NPRI data from September 14th, 2017

Pollution prevention plans and activities

Pollution prevention is about avoiding and reducing the creation of pollution and waste, rather than trying to manage it later.

In 2016, 1 049 reporting facilities had pollution prevention plans:

  • 693 prepared a plan voluntarily
  • 230 prepared a plan to meet the requirements of another order of government
  • 83 prepared a plan to meet the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 requirements
  • 43 prepared a plan for more than one of the above reasons

1 130 facilities implemented 3 251 pollution prevention activities in 2016.

  • The electricity sector had the highest percentage of facilities implementing pollution prevention activities, at 24%, followed by manufacturing, as well as mining and quarrying, both at 22%.
  • The most common activity was “Good operating practice or training” at 1 026 facilities, followed by “Spill and leak prevention” at 629 facilities.

 

Activities reported by facilities in 2016

Long description
Activities reported by facilities in 2016
Activity category Pollution prevention activities reported in 2016
Good operation practice or training 1 026
Spill and leak prevention 629
Equipment or process modifications 484
Other pollution prevention activities 377
On-site recovery, re-use or recycling 209
Inventory management or purchasing techniques 204
Materials or feedstock substitution 178
Product design or reformulation 144

Source: NPRI data from September 14th, 2017

To learn more about 2016 data, download the 2016 NPRI Summary Report.

Access NPRI data

Explore the NPRI data directly on the online query site or download one of the many available datasets.

Source: NPRI data from September 14th, 2017

 

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