ARTICLE
17 January 2012

Electronic Waste Regulation In Canada And Extended Producer Responsibility

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Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

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Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes) is one of Canada's top business law firms, serving a diverse national and international client base. Our integrated office network provides clients with access to the Firm's full spectrum of capabilities in virtually every area of business law.
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.
Canada Environment
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Copyright 2012, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

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 stage."

Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development. Working Party on Pollution Prevention and Control. Extended Producer Responsibility: A Guidance Manual for Governments. October 2000

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 development.

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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