What is the difference between an EASR and an ECA?


Your business must have an environmental approval from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (“MECP”), formerly Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”), if it releases pollutants into the air, land or water or stores, transports or disposes of waste. The aim of environmental approvals is to set rules for these activities in a way that helps protect the natural environment.  There are a number of approvals to assist you with your path to compliance.  Depending on the nature of your business activities, you will apply or register for one of the following:

  • Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA)
  • Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR)
  • Renewable Energy Approval

The first two compliance tools result in the same outcome - an approval to discharge contaminants into the environment, which naturally leads us to the question:

What is the difference between an EASR and an ECA?

At a high level, an EASR is associated with virtually instantaneous approval and less ongoing annual requirements as compared to the traditional ECA.  But let’s back up and define each compliance path.  Environmental Compliance Approval (“ECA”) and Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (“EASR”), these hyperlinks will take you directly to the MECP website specific to each path to compliance. Determining which compliance path is right for you is dependent on the complexity and uniqueness of the operation.  For more complicated operations, with higher potential for environmental impacts, an ECA is required and the EASR is used for more common activities or operations with less potential impact.  The following helps define these different levels of complexityoutlined in the regulations.


One of the fastest ways to determine your compliance path is to use the industry NAICS codes.  The default MECP approach is that all activities and sectors go through the EASR process unless specifically excluded by the Regulation.  The following NAICS codes are specifically excluded from the EASR process:



EASR eligible activities

The MECP has developed a process to determine those activities suitable for the EASR process; businesses meeting the eligibility requirements are required to register under the EASR process.  The EASR covers activities that are low risk to the environment and human health and use equipment and/or processes that are considered to be “standard” or have known environmental impacts.

Here is a MECP with a summary of EASR eligible activities below:

  • automotive refinishing facilities
  • commercial printing facilities – lithographic, screen and digital
  • non-hazardous waste transportation systems (e.g. trucks and other motor vehicles, including vans and cars on public roads)
  • small ground-mounted solar facilities
  • facilities processing end-of-life vehicles
  • specific construction-related water-taking activities

What are the steps  for an ECA application?

  1. Evaluate the pros and cons of an ECA with Limited Operational Flexibility,
  2. Compile information required to complete the application,
  3. Schedule a consultant to complete a site visit; if required,
  4. Review your current Emission Summary and Dispersion Modelling (ESDM) Report, if available, and update to include any changes,
  5. Complete dispersion modelling and compare results to MECP Point-of-Impingement Limits,
  6. Complete primary or secondary noise screening and coordinate an Acoustic Assessment Report (AAR), if required,
  7. Assemble the ECA application, including the ESDM Report, required MECP forms and supporting information and pay the applicable fee.
  8. Regularly follow up with the MECP to check the status of the application;
  9. Assist in answering any questions the MECP review engineer may have; and
  10. Review the draft and final ECA.

How to apply for an ECA?

  1. Use the checklist for technical requirements for a complete ECA submission,
  2. Read the guide to applying for an ECA or hire an air quality consultant familiar with the process,
  3. Complete the ECA application form,
  4. Make sure you include copies of all required supporting documents, and
  5. Submit your application.

What are the steps for the EASR process?

  1. Assess all emissions from the facility.
  2. Assess all substances that have no MECP limits and conduct a toxicology assessment, if needed.
  3. Assess noise and odour emissions.
  4. Develop and implement noise and odour mitigation control plans (i.e. odour control reports), if required.
  5. Develop maintenance and operational procedures as well as complaints and record management procedures.

How to apply for an EASR?

The applicant must register the activity on the MECP website, here.  All the information from the ESDM report, odour and noise screenings, toxic substances review must be registered online. Your consultant can help you or you can call the MECP directly for support.

If you have any questions, please contact ORTECH or visit our pages specific to each compliance path: EASR or ECA application .