Environmental Protection Expenditures

Statistics Canada

Certain drivers and obstacles can prevent businesses from adopting new or improved technologies, systems, and equipment related to environmental protection. In 2018, the main drivers reported were regulations (reported by 15% of businesses), whereas, in 2019, regulations were the second-highest behind corporate policy (12%). The generation of sufficient return on investment (10%) was the third most important driver in 2019. 

In terms of reported obstacles in implementing environmentally friendly modes of production, insufficient return on investment stood out as the main one in 2019 (reported by 17% of businesses). This was followed by competing capital investments (8%) and difficulty obtaining financing (7%). More than two-thirds of companies (69%) reported no obstacles, increasing from 2018 (65%).

A high proportion of paper manufacturing businesses spend funds on resource management activities.

In 2019, nearly 9 Canadian businesses out of 10 reported expenditures to protect the environment, while 15% of companies reported costs on resources management. 

Two broad categories of activities are recognized under environmental protection expenditures: environmental protection activities, which consist of the prevention, reduction, or elimination of pollution (e.g., treating wastewater); and resource management activities, which reduce the intensity of natural resource use and environmental impacts (e.g., equipment that reduces heat loss in industrial facilities). 

In 2019, at least 90% of businesses in 12 out of the 20 industries reported environmental protection expenditures. The lowest proportion reported was for the natural gas distribution industry (68%).

Just over one-third of Canadian businesses use at least one environmental management practice.

In 2019, 36% of businesses used at least one environmental management practice, just over five percentage points less than 2018. Companies adopt these practices to reduce their environmental impact. The use of an environmental management system, i.e., a management structure that allows a business to assess and control the environmental impact of its activities, was the most common practice (reported by 19% of businesses), followed by developing or following a pollution prevention plan (17%) and performing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory (11%).

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