Canada: Cradle To Grave: The Recovery And Reclamation Of Products By Enterprises

Last Updated: July 22 2011
Article by Isabelle Tremblay

Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2016

To read this article in full please click here.

The Regulation respecting the recovery and reclamation of products by enterprises will come into force in Québec on July 14, 2011. It requires certain marketing or supplying enterprises to account for the recovery and reclamation of products listed in the Regulation. The Regulation applies to enterprises that market a regulated product in Québec or generally act as the first supplier. The Regulation also applies to an enterprise, including a municipality, who acquires from outside Québec a product covered by the Regulation for its own use, or manufactures such a product.

The Regulation puts into action one of the principles advocated by the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (the MSDEP) regarding the management of residual materials, namely the responsibility of producers. The intended end result is that the "environmental cost" of a product, including the cost of managing it at the end of its useful life, is internalized in the price of the product.

The MSDEP estimates that the costs associated with compliance will reach $70.9 million per year, including $47.9 million for electronic products only, generating an average 1.9% increase on the cost of targeted products.

The products subject to the Regulation fit into 5 categories:

  • Electronic products, including desktop and laptop computers and
  • their accessories, television sets, printers, scanners, photocopiers, telephones (including cellular telephones), answering machines, video game consoles, digital cameras, GPS, routers, memory cards, hard drives, e-books and wireless devices;
  • Batteries, including rechargeable batteries, but excluding certain specific batteries;
  • Mercury lamps, including fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lamps;
  • Paint and paint containers, including varnishes and masonry treatment; and
  • Oils, coolants and antifreeze, including their filters and containers.

Enterprises that market a product which is comprised, in part, of a regulated product (for example, a battery included in a toy) must also recover and reclaim the component.

Paints and oils were already subject to the Regulation respecting the recovery and reclamation of discarded paint containers and the Regulation respecting the recovery and reclamation of used oils, oil or fluid containers and used filters, respectively. These regulations will be revoked by the new Regulation, but will continue to apply to enterprises that implemented recovery and reclamation programs under the previous regulations, until 2013.

The Regulation provides that reports regarding the performance of the recovery and reclamation program must be submitted yearly to the MSDEP. Such reports must be subject to an audit by a third party licensed to practice public accounting. Records must also be kept, for every type of product covered by the Regulation, for a period of 10 years.

Enterprises that fail to meet the recovery and reclamation objectives set in the Regulation will be obligated to make a consequential payment to the Green Fund. Examples of recovery objectives are (for 2015):

  • 40% recovery for desktops and laptops, such percentage to increase to 65% in 2020;
  • 25% recovery for cellular phones, such percentage to increase to 65% in 2023;
  • 20% recovery for single-use batteries, such percentage to increase to 65% in 2024; and
  • 40% recovery for fluorescent tubes, such percentage to increase to 80% in 2023.

It is expected that some enterprises subject to the Regulation will achieve compliance, in part, through membership in an organization which implements a recovery and reclamation system. However, a number of obligations will continue to apply, notwithstanding such a membership.

The recovery and reclamation system must be implemented at a date ranging between July, 2012 and July, 2013, depending on the product. The paints and oils categories, already subject to recovery and reclamation requirements, are subject to the Regulation from the date of its coming into force.

Violation of the Regulation is punishable by a fine ranging between $1,000 and $25,000 for a natural person, and $2,000 and $250,000 for a legal person.

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