Pollutant release and transfer registers: Examining the value of government-led reporting on corporate environmental performance

Within this paper, we argue that the data released by companies through corporate environmental reports are of very limited value, particularly for analysts seeking to benchmark the environmental performance of different companies or sites. We also argue that the data published by governments through pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs) such as the US Toxic Releases Inventory (TRI) or the EU Polluting Emissions Register (EPER) are of much greater value in comparative analyses. However, we recognize that PRTRs are limited in their scope and there are differences between the PRTRs that are in place in different countries. We find then that while PRTRs can inform comparative analyses within countries, their potential to provide a basis for benchmarking across different countries has not yet been fulfilled. Nonetheless, we conclude that PRTRs often provide the best available data for benchmarking corporate environmental performance and that increases in their scope and a harmonization of their design could play a significant role in illuminating variations in corporate environmental performance over time and across space. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Gouldson AP; Sullivan R (2007), Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 14, pp.263-273.