European pollutant release and transfer register (E-PRTR)

European pollutant release and transfer register (E-PRTR)

The European Regulation on Pollutant Release and Transfer Register entered into force on the 24 February 2006 (E-PRTR Regulation). The 2007 data was the first year of data. The Regulation requires operators of industries regulated by SEPA and falling under the activities listed in Annex I of the Regulation to report their releases and transfers to the European Commission on an annual basis starting in 2007. The E-PRTR succeeds the European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER) under which data were reported for the years 2001 and 2004. In 2019, the E-PRTR will change slightly as a result of the European Commission’s REFIT project and the implementation of the INSPIRE and Industrial Emissions Directives.
The E-PRTR Regulation aims to enhance public access to environmental information through the establishment of a coherent and integrated E-PRTR, thereby also contributing to the prevention and reduction of pollution, delivering data for policy makers and facilitating public participation in environmental decision-making. EU member states are required to report releases from all activities listed in Annex I of the E-PRTR Regulation.

The E-PRTR Regulation is in response to the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers to the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice on Environmental Matters “the Aarhus Convention” issued by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE). The EU is a signatory to the UN-ECE PRTR Protocol and therefore is required to develop a European wide register. The UK is also a signatory to the PRTR Protocol and therefore is required to develop UK national PRTR. The E- and UK-PRTR were first published in 2009.

The difference between SPRI and E-PRTR is E-PRTR is a subset of SPRI sites (SPRI). This is because of several factors:

  • SPRI has more pollutants (110) to be reported by operators;
  • In most cases the pollutant thresholds are much lower in SPRI (E-PRTR thresholds are designed to capture 90% of all European industrial releases whereas the SPRI thresholds are designed to capture 90% of Scottish industrial releases);
  • SPRI has lower activity thresholds for some activities e.g. Urban Waste Water Treatment Plants.

This makes SPRI relevant to Scotland and helps put Scottish releases into context with industrial releases from the rest of the UK and Europe.
Activities reported to E-PRTR
Annex I of the E-PRTR Regulation lists 65 activities. Annex I enables operators to identify whether they are affected by the associated reporting obligations. The activities are grouped in 9 activity sectors:

  • energy;
  • production and processing of metals;
  • mineral industry;
  • chemical industry;
  • waste and waste water management;
  • paper and wood production and processing;
  • intensive livestock production and aquaculture;
  • animal and vegetable products from the food and beverage sector; 
  • other activities. 

If an activity specified in Annex I is carried out and the capacity threshold specified therein is exceeded, there is an obligation to report releases and off-site transfers; with the additional condition that certain release threshold values or threshold values for off-site transfer of pollutants in waste water destined for treatment or threshold values for waste must also be exceeded.
For releases of pollutants to air, water and land and for off-site transfers of pollutants in waste water the corresponding threshold values are specified for each pollutant in Annex II of the E-PRTR Regulation. Annex II of the Regulation lists the 91 pollutants that are relevant for reporting under the E-PRTR. The pollutants are specified by a consecutive number, the CAS number, where available, and the name of the pollutant.
For off-site transfers of waste the threshold values are 2 tonnes per year for hazardous waste and 2,000 tonnes per year for non-hazardous waste.
For further information on the E-PRTR please visit the EU’s E-PRTR website