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Environmental protection expenditures by businesses, 2014

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Released: 2017-10-24

Canadian businesses spent $11.8 billion on environmental protection in 2014, up 9% from 2012.

Two categories of expenditures—pollution abatement and control processes, and waste management and sewerage services—accounted for almost two-thirds of the total.

Among the 16 industry groups surveyed, the oil and gas extraction industry had the largest share of expenditures, spending $6.5 billion or 55% of total business environmental protection expenditures. The mining and quarrying industry followed, spending $1.1 billion or 9% of total expenditures. The electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry spent $775 million (7% of total), while the primary metals industry spent $766 million (6%) in 2014.

Provincially, businesses in Alberta reported the highest spending on environmental protection at $6.6 billion. This was largely due to the high concentration of the oil and gas extraction industry in the province.

Of the $11.8 billion in total environmental protection spending, operating expenses accounted for just over half the total at $6.2 billion, up 9% from 2012. Capital expenses also rose 9% from 2012 to $5.6 billion.

Capital expenditures

Capital spending on environmental protection projects in the oil and gas extraction industry totalled $3.8 billion in 2014, up 48% from 2012. This amounted to slightly more than two-thirds of the total capital expenditures.

Investment in pollution abatement and control accounted for 56% of total capital investment, followed by pollution prevention (15%). These two activities have received the largest share of investments in each survey cycle since 2006.

Operating expenditures

As in previous years, the largest share of operating expenses was for waste management and sewerage services. In 2014, businesses spent $1.8 billion on these services, or about 30% of total operating expenditures on environmental protection.

The oil and gas extraction industry reported the highest environmental protection operating expenditures at $2.7 billion or 44% of the total.

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

The quality of the environment has been of growing interest to Canadians in recent decades. In Canada, environmental jurisdiction is shared among federal, provincial and territorial governments, which impose various environmental regulations regarding the prevention or reduction of air emissions, effluents, solid waste, as well as the protection of wildlife and habitat. While early Canadian environmental initiatives focused on conservation, concerns about pollution began to grow in the 1960s.

Recognizing the need for better environmental management and in response to growing public concern about toxic substances in the environment, the federal government introduced a number of new laws in the 1970s including the Clean Air Act and the Canada Water Act. In 1988, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), Canada's principal piece of federal environmental protection legislation, was enacted. CEPA 1988 consolidated several federal laws dealing with the environment. Following an extensive review, it was replaced by CEPA 1999. The aim of CEPA1999 was to prevent pollution and protect the environment and human health.

While Statistics Canada collected some statistics related to expenditures on pollution abatement and control beginning in the mid-1980s, the Survey of Environmental Protection Expenditures (SEPE) was specifically developed to fill significant gaps in the data regarding the cost to industry of environmental protection and the demand for associated environmental products and services. SEPE has collected statistics on the capital and operating expenditures of business establishments on various types of environmental goods, services and activities since 1994.

Pollution prevention methods

In 2014, 47% of businesses in Canada reported that they used at least one pollution prevention method, compared with 53% in 2012. The top three most commonly used methods were: prevention of leaks and spills; recirculation, on-site recycling or reuse or recovery of materials or substances; and good operating practices or pollution prevention training. Environmental protection expenditures on pollution prevention declined from $1.7 billion in 2012 to $1.5 billion in 2014.

Environmental management practices

Environmental management practices are protocols that businesses adopt to reduce their impact on the environment.

In 2014, 47% of businesses used at least one environmental management practice. The use of an environmental management system was the most commonly reported practice, followed by the implementation of a pollution prevention plan, and the performance of an energy audit.

  Note to readers

This release presents data from the 2014 Survey of Environmental Protection Expenditures, which is a biennial survey of just over 3,500 establishments in selected primary industries and in the manufacturing sector.

Measures of industrial spending on environmental protection are restricted to spending made in response to current or anticipated regulations, conventions, or voluntary agreements. Measures of spending on renewable energy technologies include all such expenditures, regardless of whether they were made in response to regulations or for another reason.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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