An Introduction to the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR)

Bitesize webinar

Has your environmental regulator recently requested you report data to the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR)? 

Do you need help understanding what the PRTR is and how to report for it?

Why not listen to our short and simple 15-minute webinar which will introduce you to the key things you need to know about PRTR reporting. One of our experienced consultants from The Compliance People, Kerry Hammick, will talk you through:  

  • what the PRTR is and why it is required​; 
  • who is required to report; 
  • what must be reported​; 
  • how to report; 
  • what happens after reporting. 


Have you been asked by your regulator to submit data for the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR)?

Read our PRTR FAQs to find out exactly what it is, who is required to report, and what information needs to be submitted. 


The webinar mentions EU legislation – does it apply to me if I’m in GB?

In order to avoid a sudden and dramatic change in regulation for businesses in Great Britain, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 provides that all EU Regulations previously enforceable in the UK up to the end of the Brexit implementation period, are copied into law in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).

This means that from 1st January 2021 there will be two versions of EU Regulations in legal registers:

  • The original EU version which is unchanged; and
  • The new GB version which applies the Regulation solely within GB. (The new GB versions of EU Regulations are referred to as ‘retained EU law’.)

GB versions of EU Regulations will be temporarily identical to the EU versions, apart from the amendments section which includes any amendments made to EU Regulations by UK Regulations that take affect after IP completion day.

This means that currently there is no change in reporting requirements for the PRTR in GB.


What is the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register?

The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) is a publicly accessible electronic database that provides key environmental data on emissions from industrial facilities in European Union Member States, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It allows comparison of pollutant releases within industry and with releases in the UK and Europe.  

Member States are required to report data to the E-PRTR by the end of March each year, so the register website can be updated, and to comply with Regulation (EC) 166/2006 concerning the establishment of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (‘E-PRTR Regulation’). Following the end of the Brexit implementation period, EU Regulations are ‘copied’ into law in Great Britain, so that there are two versions of EU Regulations (the EU version and a GB version). The new GB version applies the Regulation solely within GB and does not change the reporting requirements. 

To enable the register to be updated, specific industrial facilities must report annual emissions data on releases to air, land and controlled waters, off-site transfers of waste and transfers of pollutants to wastewater, to the appropriate regulator.  

The register covers 91 pollutants listed in Annex II of the E-PRTR Regulation, including greenhouse gases, other gases, heavy metals, pesticides, chlorinated organic substances, and other inorganic substances.  

The ongoing reporting provides reliable data to: 

  • support policy-making designed to improve air quality; 
  • contribute to transparency and public participation in environmental decision-making; and 
  • support the prevention and reduction of pollution from industrial activities.  


Who is required to report?

Annex I of the E-PRTR Regulation lists 65 industrial activities, broken down into 9 main activity sectors, which are required to report data to the E-PRTR: 

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

The majority of these activities will require an environmental permit and are regulated as installations under Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (‘Industrial Emissions Directive’ or ‘IED’).  

Operators must report information on annual releases and off-site transfers if they operate a facility which undertakes an activity listed in Annex 1 of the E-PRTR Regulation and the level of emissions exceeds the particular thresholds set 

Operators are required to report annually on releases and off-site transfers from the previous reporting year. 

Operators should consult Annex 1 to identify whether they are affected by the associated reporting obligations. 


What needs to be reported?

Operators are required to quantify and report: 

  • pollutant releases to air, land and controlled waters; 
  • pollutants in off site transfers of waste water; 
  • the quantity of non-hazardous and hazardous waste leaving a facility; and the quantity of hazardous waste from the site that is exported abroad.  

Annex II of the E-PRTR Regulation lists the 91 pollutants that are relevant for reporting.  

Each pollutant has a reporting threshold set (which can differ depending upon the environmental media) and operators are required to report information on pollutant releases and off site transfers if the thresholds are exceeded. 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. 

Only data on emissions above the reporting threshold for each pollutant needs to be reported. If the emission released is below the reporting threshold, the total figure does not need to be reported; it is sufficient to report that the release was ‘below reporting threshold’. 

Pollutant emissions to air, water, and waste water are reported in kilograms per year (kg/y). Waste transfers of hazardous and non-hazardous waste are reported in tonnes per year (tonnes/y). 


How do I report to the E-PRTR?

The first reporting year under the E-PRTR was 2007, for which the data were reported in June 2009.  

The UK data set is collated and validated by the environmental regulator in each jurisdiction: 

Each regulator uses a different system for reporting purposes and the requirement to report each year will either be written into an environmental permit / licence as a condition, or the regulator will send a notice requiring information to the operator, served under the relevant legislation for that jurisdiction. The notice served will detail what is to be reported and the deadline by which to do so.  

The emission reporting thresholds for each medium (air, land, water) may also vary between regulators, as each may use the data reported for various purposes in addition to PRTR reporting.


What does each regulator call the requirement to report to the PRTR?

Each regulator refers to the requirement to report to the PRTR slightly differently: 


What happens if data is not submitted as required?

Noncompliance with this legislation could lead to fines or imprisonment.


Further resources

Further guidance on reporting and measurement techniques is available on each of the relevant regulators’ websites.  

For more detail on the overall requirements and assistance with reporting please see the Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 on the establishment of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register entry on LUS, or contact one of our experienced consultants.