In order to solve a problem, the first thing you have to know is how big it is! Companies across the planet massively pollute the environment, but to what extent we haven’t known because no one has ever made an organized effort to calculate it until recently.
As of now, 36 governments have signed the United Nations The Protocol on Pollutants Release and Transfer Register, which will enter into force on October 8, 2009.
The Protocol’s goal is to provide a “mechanism to increase corporate accountability, reduce pollution, and promote sustainable development.” This is expected to be done, in part, by enhancing public access to information through the creation of registers in accordance with the Protocol.
The reporting requirements of facilities subject to the provisions of the Protocol will include the following:
- The release of any UN declared pollutant that exceeds specified threshold quantities.
- The transferring off-site of any UN declared pollutant that exceeds specified threshold quantities.
- The transferring off-site of any hazardous waste exceeding two tons per year or other waste exceeding 2,000 tons per year.
- The transferring off-site of pollutant waste-water for treatment exceeding specified threshold quantities.
Each facility will provide the information on pollutant releases to its designated national authority. Reporting information will also include each facility’s name, owner’s/operator’s name, facility street address, geographic location, and its activities.
Each government will be required to make its first reporting within one calendar year of signing the Protocol. In addition, where the information won’t be easily accessible by direct electronic means (i.e., Internet), each government will be required to create general access to the data within publicly accessible locations, such as public libraries and offices of local authorities.
The fruition of the Protocol has been a long time coming. It was set into motion at the UN Economic Commission for Europe Aarhus Convention in May 2003.
As of now, the following countries have already released their Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR) in the UNECE region and other selected PRTR systems:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Map of Parties and Signatories to the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers
- Map of countries which have Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers
Reader commentary and input is always welcomed!