April 12, 2004

Ottawa updates rules on export, import of hazardous wastes, hazardous recyclables

Draft regulations to improve Canada's management of the export and import of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials such as leftovers from oil refining, the manufacture of chemicals and metal processing, batteries, computer and electronic waste have been published for consultation. The amended Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material regulations were published in the March 20, 2004 Canada Gazette, Part I for a 60-day public comment period ending May 19, 2004; they will become final in early 2005.

The amendments to the existing Export and Import of Hazardous Waste regulations (EIHWR) are needed to adapt to evolving international obligations, strengthen measures to ensure protection of human health and the environment, and to modernize the control regime. "These amendments demonstrate Canada's commitment to have domestic requirements in line with international standards for the safe movement of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials across borders," said federal Environment Minister David Anderson.

The updated requirements incorporate the principle of environmentally sound management (ESM) criteria whereby the government may refuse to issue an export, import or transit permit if the waste or recyclable material will not be managed in a manner that will protect the environment and/or human health. The proposed amendments also include the requirement for waste reductions plans or phaseout of exports of hazardous wastes destined for disposal.

Other significant revisions and new elements include:

*separate definitions for "hazardous waste" and "hazardous recyclable material;"

*definitions of these terms which will enable progress toward a harmonized approach throughout Canada to the *management of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material;

*specific time periods for completing disposal or recycling operations once the hazardous wastes or hazardous recyclable materials are accepted at authorized facilities;

*elements to be contained in the plans for reduction or phaseout of exports of hazardous wastes destined for disposal;

*facilitation of recycling certain low-risk recyclable materials by excluding these materials from the definition of hazardous recyclable material; and

*a new manifest form, which will replace the existing form to distinguish international movements from domestic movements; it will contain additional information necessary for these requirements.

The proposed amendments maintain the core requirements of the current regulations, among them the prior informed consent of importing countries to waste shipped from Canada; the tracking of all transboundary movements; the recycling of materials and disposal of wastes only at authorized facilities; conditions governing who is permitted to import or export; requirements for liability insurance and specifics regarding insurance coverage; and the requirement that imports, exports and transits be conducted only with countries that are parties to the Basel Convention, the Canada-U.S. Agreement on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Council Decision on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations. While the basic framework has been maintained, the structure and language of the proposed regulations have been substantially changed from the existing EIHWR in order to make the legal requirements clearer.

The amendments provide both environmental and economic benefits: setting out ESM criteria to be considered by the Minister in granting or refusing a permit will strengthen the level of environmental protection afforded by the regulations. It is also expected that prescribing the information to be included in plans to reduce exports of hazardous wastes destined for disposal will lead to better management of wastes in Canada and potentially increased recycling instead of disposal. Exemptions for low-risk hazardous material, in accordance with the mechanism outlined by the OECD, which will support a sustainable recycling industry in Canada by facilitating access to such materials.

A streamlined administrative process will make it easier to obtain permits and will improve the controls of the movements of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials across international borders. Industry will also benefit from cost savings associated with measures such as: including electronic filing of notice and manifest forms; exempting small quantities of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials from the regulations; an expedited renewal mechanism for notices and permits if shipments are materially unchanged; removal of restrictions on the number of hazardous wastes or hazardous recyclable material streams to be listed in each notice; and clearer rules concerning returns and re-routing of imports.

The total aggregate value of the cost savings has been calculated at approximately $3 million over a five-year time period, while compliance costs are projected at about $1.55 million over the same period.

Comments may be directed to Lyne Monastesse, transboundary movement branch, Environmental Protection Service, Environment Canada, Place Vincent Massey, 351 Saint-Joseph Blvd, Gatineau, Que K1A 0H3, 819/953-1121, FAX 819/997-3068, E-mail lyne.monastesse@ec.gc.ca; or CÈline LabossiËre, regulatory and economic analysis branch, Policy and Communiciations, Environment Canada, Terrasses de la ChaudiËre, 10 Wellington St, Gatineau, Que K1A 0H3, 819/997-2377, FAX 819/997-2769, E-mail celine.labossiere@ec.gc.ca.

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