Analysis of International Toxics Inventories

Photo of many OECD member country flags on the face of a building

Project Brief

The Challenge

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory was established as the first of its kind system to collect cross-media data on pollutant releases and transfers, its design and success became the model that countries around the world sought to emulate. Today, more than 50 countries have established their own pollutant release and transfer registers or are in the process of doing so. While the structure and content of PRTRs vary to account for each country’s needs, they all improve transparency related to pollutant releases. Given the differences among countries’ reporting requirements (e.g., chemicals reporting, thresholds, definitions), analyzing this wealth of data on a global scale is challenging. The EPA’s TRI Program, which has been collaborating with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to help European countries develop PRTRs, sought ERG’s support for data analysis.

ERG's Solution

ERG analyzed PRTR data from seven countries to assess progress toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal focused on reducing chemical releases to the environment. To account for differences among PRTRs, ERG developed chemical and sector crosswalks to harmonize the data from the different PRTRs and focused the analysis on the most relevant metrics of air and water releases. The results are presented in a project report and an accompanying interactive data exploration tool, both of which were published on the OECD PRTR webpage.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency