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TRI National Analysis

TRI Around the World

In 1986, the TRI Program was established as the first national Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) in the world. Since then, environmental agencies around the world have been increasingly implementing their own PRTR programs with the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) serving as a model. Currently, at least 50 countries have fully established PRTRs or have implemented pilot programs, as shown in the map below. More are expected to be developed over the coming years, particularly in Asian, South American, and African countries.

2017 PRTR World MapSource: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

As global PRTR implementation continues to grow, the TRI Program will continue to work with international organizations to:

  • Assist in the development of PRTR programs in other countries
  • Encourage other countries to develop initiatives aimed at making existing PRTR data more comparable to allow better analysis of the data on a global scale
  • Make PRTR data more useful for assessing progress towards sustainability

For information on international PRTR activities, projects and partners, see TRI’s International webpage. As an example, the TRI Program is currently working with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Exit on a project to use global PRTR data to assess progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals established in the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Exit, as described in the Project Spotlight below.

International Project Spotlight: Using PRTR Data to Assess Progress toward the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

Background. The TRI Program is participating in a project to use global PRTR data to assess progress toward the United Nations’ (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Exit. These goals are designed to “shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path” by setting targets that encompass the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of sustainability. As countries and stakeholders take action toward achieving the SDGs, the U.N. will measure progress toward the Goals using existing data where possible. One such existing data source for some of the SDGs may be found in countries’ established PRTR data.

Project Objectives. The project applies and demonstrates the utility of PRTR data to inform SDGs and has three complementary objectives:

  • Developing approaches for using PRTR data for global-scale sustainability analyses,
  • Assessing progress towards meeting specific SDG targets through examination of global chemical pollution trends, and
  • Accelerating progress towards meeting specific SDG targets by investigating the drivers of observed trends and providing an opportunity for knowledge transfer among countries facing similar chemical pollution challenges.

Initial Focus. The U.N. SDG Target 12.4 Exit was identified as the target most directly relevant to PRTR data and is the focus of this initial phase of the project. This target focuses on reducing chemical releases to the environment.

Project Status. Global analyses of PRTR data are currently underway to aggregate data for multiple chemicals from multiple countries in order to recommend possible metrics to track progress in reducing chemical releases to the environment. A sample figure below shows the trend for 14 pollutants as reported to 7 PRTRs.

Releases by Industry (kg): 7 PRTRs, 14 Pollutants

Next steps. As the project progresses and the methods and metrics are reviewed and refined, ideally the findings would be included in the next update of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals Report Exit.

Read more about the TRI Around the World.

This page was published in March 2019 and uses the 2017 TRI National Analysis dataset made public in TRI Explorer in October 2018.

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