Proposed Regulation of Mercury-containing Products in Canada

Summary

On February 26th, 2011 Environment Canada published a proposed regulation under Part 5 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) outlining proposed prohibitions on the import, manufacture, sale and offer for sale of mercury-containing products. The proposed regulation is published in the Canada Gazette, Part I for a 75-day comment period.

The proposed regulation is called Regulations Respecting Products Containing Certain Substances Listed in Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

The regulation would:

  • Prohibit the manufacture, import, and sale of mercury-containing products, with some exemptions for essential products which have no viable alternatives, such as lamps and dental amalgam (fillings);
  • Require labelling and reporting for permitted and exempt products;
  • Limit the mercury content in some exempted products such as fluorescent lamps;
  • Allow the possibility of permits for mercury-containing products to be in the marketplace, after an assessment of the product’s purpose, available alternatives, risks and benefits for human health and the environment, and end-of-life management practices for the product.

The proposed regulation is designed to allow for the future possibility of controlling products containing other substances listed in Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999,by adding them to the schedule of the regulation. Any addition of a substance would be done according to the regulatory and consultative processes under CEPA, 1999.

Mercury and mercury compounds are the only substances targeted by the proposed regulation.


Development of the Proposed Regulation

Environment Canada is committed to ensuring that all initiatives aimed at developing risk management measures include a process of meaningful and effective consultation with stakeholders. This proposed regulation was developed following a series of public consultations.

In December 2006, Environment Canada published and invited comments on a Risk Management Strategy for Mercury-containing Products. The Strategy set a risk management objective of reducing mercury releases to the environment from consumer products to the lowest possible level. It also discussed a range of options for managing new and end-of-life mercury-containing products, including a regulation under section 93 of CEPA 1999

In December 2007, Environment Canada followed up with a document entitled Proposed Risk Management Instruments for Mercury-Containing Products. The proposed instruments included a regulation to control the use of mercury in products and a pollution prevention planning notice for dental amalgam. This document also includes Environment Canada’s response to comments received on the 2006 Risk Management Strategy for Mercury-containing Products.

In February 2008, Environment Canada hosted multi-stakeholder consultation sessions in Toronto and Vancouver, to further discuss specific aspects of the strategy and proposed instruments. A summary of comments and Environment Canada's responses are available.

Since then, Environment Canada has been working to develop the proposed regulation and the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS).


Next Steps

Environment Canada invites comments on the proposed regulation and Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement by May 12th, 2011.

Based on the comments received, Environment Canada will develop the final regulation and Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement in collaboration with Health Canada and other federal departments.

It is anticipated that the final regulation will be published in 2012, with additional time given before they come into force later that year, allowing sufficient transition time for industries to meet the requirements.


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