A Survey of Extended Producer Responsibility Programs for E-Waste in Canada
Davis LLP Environmental Law Bulletin
October 21, 2012
Provincial electronic product stewardship programs (“PSPs”), which require producers to take responsibility for disposal or recycling of their electronic products, are becoming increasingly important in Canada. The goal of these programs is to shift the responsibility for the costs of disposal to producers and to ensure that these products are disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. They are thus a concern both for businesses who generate electronic materials and for those involved in waste management industries. The programs contain potential liabilities, as well as opportunities for affected individuals and businesses.
Provincial electronic waste programs are operationally administered by the Electronic Products Recycling Association (“EPRA”), a national non-profit entity tasked with improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Canada’s electronic stewardship programs. In addition to provincial programs, producers should be aware that there are several national PSP programs such as the Canadian Wireless and Telecommunication Association’s Recycle My Cell initiative and the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation of Canada’s Call2Recycle program. Although commonalities do exist between the provinces, it is important to be aware of the differences in each province to ensure compliance in all jurisdictions in which one operates. Failure to comply can result in significant fines or even imprisonment.
Generally, PSPs require producers or companies who sell designated products to register with the organization that has developed an approved recycling program. In addition to the registration requirement, producers must pay a per-item fee, which may be passed on to consumers at the point of sale, and submit regular reports on products sold and returned. Finally, PSPs generally also involve the establishment of drop-off centres for the safe recycling of designated products.