The trend towards producer-pay recycling in British Columbia has
been growing in recent years, resulting in significant changes to
the operations of a variety of commercial interests in the
On October 1st, the final phase of the B.C. LightRecycle program
for retailers, distributors and manufacturers of new lamps,
ballasts and lighting fixtures sold or supplied in British Columbia
is scheduled to come into effect. First implemented on July 1, the
full program was phased in over several months to allow affected
parties time to ensure compliance with what is proving to be a
complex body of obligations.
Under the recycling regulation of the British Columbia
Environmental Management Act, British Columbia retailers,
distributors and manufacturers were required to engage in an
approved stewardship program by July 1 for the recycling of all of
new lamps, ballasts and lighting fixtures sold or supplied into the
residential, commercial and industrial sectors of the province.
Affected parties had the option of either satisfying the onerous
requirements of the recycling regulation themselves by implementing
their own stewardship plan (the logistics of which can be
challenging and extremely costly), or of enrolling with Product
Care, a non-profit industry association that has developed an
approved stewardship program in conjunction with the Ministry of
Product Care has been accepting residential-use florescent
lights at its drop-off centres since 2010, and on October 1 their
B.C. LightRecycle program expanded to include the collection,
transportation and recycling of all end-of-life residential,
institutional, commercial and industrial-use lighting products.
Program costs are funded by a new body of eco fees applied to
lamps, ballasts and lighting fixtures sold or supplied by Product
Care members in British Columbia, and as of October 1 members are
required to report their sales of the products and remit applicable
eco fees to Product Care. Manufacturers have the option of either
passing these fees on to their customers directly (by showing the
charge separately on invoices or by incorporating the eco fee into
the price of their products), or of passing the fee down the supply
chain. As a result, if a manufacturer can arrange with its
distributors to ensure that the requisite eco fees for an affected
product are remitted to Product Care, then the manufacturer will
not be responsible for remitting the fees themselves.
Compliance with reporting obligations under the program is also
flexible, requiring only one member of a supply chain to directly
report to Product Care. Consequently, if they haven't already
done so, manufacturers of affected products should communicate with
each of their British Columbia distributors and retailers to
determine who will join the B.C. LightRecycle program and report
their sales to Product Care.
With the passing of the July 1 and October 1 deadlines, the
punitive consequences of non-compliance with the Recycling
Regulation should be considered. While the maximum fine for failing
to participate in an approved stewardship program is $200,000,
in practice penalties will be determined on a case-by-case
basis by a conservation officer working in conjunction with other
Ministry officials, and will depend on the nature of the
infraction. A Ministry source confirmed that it will likely not be
issuing penalties until it has communicated with non-compliant
retailers, distributors or manufacturers, both over the phone and
in writing, and has issued a formal notice. However, in light
of the onerous requirements of the recycling regulation and the
consequences of non-compliance, clients in affected industries
should ensure that if they have not already enrolled in Product
Care's B.C. LightRecycle program or do not have an approved
stewardship plan in place, they contact Product Care or the
Ministry of Environment as soon as possible.
The changes affecting the British Columbia lighting industry are
emblematic of a larger trend in the province. As the B.C.
government seeks ways to take the burden off taxpayers for the
costs of ensuring that industry participate in environmentally
sound practices, other industries, especially in the manufacturing
sector, should take note of the lighting industry's experience.
Further changes will surely be coming soon.
Originally published inThe Lawyers Weekly
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