Originally published in Blakes Bulletin on Environmental
Law, January 2012
Over the past decade, Canadian governments
–particularly provincial governments – have
developed a growing number of waste diversion or recycling
regulatory programs based upon the concept that the producers of
products sold in Canada should assume some of the responsibility
for managing the packaging and other waste materials generated as a
result of their consumption. This approach is known as Extended
Producer Responsibility (EPR) and has been championed by the
Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD) for
many years. Canada has turned out to be one of the more
enthusiastic jurisdictions to embrace EPR, which has been applied
to various forms of consumer goods and packaging such as food and
beverage containers, newsprint, cardboard, plastic wrappings and
containers, and electronic goods.
As stated by the OECD:
"EPR programs can be best
understood as changing the traditional balance of responsibilities
among the manufacturers and distributors of consumer goods,
consumers and governments with regard to waste management. Although
they take many forms, these programs are all characterized by the
continued involvement of producers and/or distributors with
commercial goods at the post-consumer stage. EPR extends the
traditional environmental responsibilities that producers and
distributors have previously been assigned (i.e., worker safety,
prevention and treatment of environmental releases from production,
financial and legal responsibility for the sound management of
production wastes) to include management at the post-consumer
Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development. Working
Party on Pollution Prevention and Control. Extended Producer
Responsibility: A Guidance Manual for Governments. October
Not surprisingly, finding a way to get the private sector to
shoulder the cost of managing the consumer waste stream was
attractive to Canadian governments and, as a consequence, there has
been a proliferation of legislated EPR programs from coast to
coast. One very important category of consumer products that
creates a large volume of waste material, in many cases including
valuable, but environmentally problematic, heavy metals, is
electronic goods. This group of goods includes televisions,
computers, cell phones and personal digital assistants. As a
result, Canada has a growing number of electronic (E) waste
regulations and EPR programs either up and running or in
Blakes has prepared a summary of these regulations and programs to
assist you and your business in finding your way through the myriad
of Canadian E-waste EPR rules and requirements. In many cases, if
your business imports or sells electronic goods in a Canadian
province it must be registered in an E-waste EPR or stewardship
program and either take back the goods for recycling or pay
prescribed fees based upon the volume of sales in the province.
Unfortunately, the rules do vary from province to province.
To access this summary, which includes electronic links to some of
the underlying source materials, click here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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