Code of practice: environmentally sound management of end-of-life lamps containing mercury
Issuance of the Code of Practice for the Environmentally Sound Management of End-of-life Lamps Containing Mercury
The Minister of the Environment issues, under subsection 54(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the annexed Code of Practice for the Environmentally Sound Management of End-of-life Lamps Containing Mercury.
February 11, 2017
Industrial sectors, Chemicals and Waste Directorate
On behalf of the Minister of the Environment
Annex: Code of Practice for the Environmentally Sound Management of End-of-life Lamps Containing Mercury
Cat. No.: En14-243/2017E-PDF
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© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, 2017
Environment and Climate Change Canada would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Recycling Council of Ontario; their best practices document helped inform the development of the code of practice. Environment and Climate Change Canada would also like to thank the stakeholders and representatives of provincial and territorial governments who provided information during the development of this document.
The code of practice does not absolve collection and storage sites and facilities, transporters, and waste management facilities, and their operators from the responsibility to comply with any federal, provincial, territorial and/or municipal legislation and requirements applicable to the management of mercury-containing lamps, mercury wastes, or the operations and activities of the facility or transporter. It is the responsibility of the facilities, transporters and operators to be aware of and abide by all such legislation and requirements.
Mercury is an essential component in some energy-efficient lamps such as fluorescent tubes and light bulbs. Mercury-containing lamps use a low-pressure mercury electrical discharge in which a fluorescing coating transforms ultraviolet energy into visible light. These lamps contain a small amount of mercury which may be released when the lamps break or are improperly disposed as regular garbage. The mercury vapour released from these broken lamps poses a potential risk to human health and the environment. Thus, it is important that mercury-containing lamps are managed properly at their end of life to prevent the release of mercury to the environment.
Mercury is a toxic, naturally occurring, chemical element that can cycle between air, water, land, plants and animals for extended periods of time, and may be carried over long distances in the atmosphere. In the environment, micro-organisms and natural processes convert mercury to more harmful forms of the metal, such as methyl mercury. Readily absorbed by organisms, methyl mercury bioaccumulates in living tissue and becomes increasingly potent as it moves up the food chain. In humans, methyl mercury can cause an array of health problems including brain damage and neurological development effects in fetuses, infants and young children. Mercury accumulates in northern regions via atmospheric circulation processes, and poses a particular risk to those who eat large amounts of fish or marine mammals such as northern indigenous peoples who rely on traditional foods.
Mercury and its compounds are toxic substances listed on Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). Recognizing that products containing mercury need to be properly managed to protect the environment and safeguard human health, on November 19, 2014, the Government of Canada published the final Products Containing Mercury Regulations which prohibit the manufacture and import of products containing mercury or any of its compounds, with some exemptions for essential products that have no technically or economically viable alternatives. In the case of lamps, the regulations set mercury content limits for fluorescent and other types of lamps, and require labels to inform consumers about the presence of mercury, as well as safe handling procedures and options available for the end-of-life management of these products.
As part of the Government of Canada’s approach to reducing mercury releases and emissions to the environment,Footnote 1 Environment and Climate Change Canada (the department) has developed the Code of Practice for the Environmentally Sound Management of Mercury-containing Lamps at their End of Life, which also includes options for diverting spent lamps from landfill and managing them in remote and northern areas. Environmentally sound management of spent lamps means ensuring that they are collected separately from the general waste stream, and stored, handled, transported and processed in a manner that prevents releases of the mercury to the environment. It also means that mercury from the waste products is recovered or stabilized prior to environmentally sound disposal in a hazardous waste landfill.
The code of practice is a voluntary tool developed to complement provincial, territorial and others’ initiatives, and to promote best practices for managing end-of-life mercury-containing lamps. Several provinces have established, or are considering, policies, legislation, programs and other measures for extended producer responsibilityFootnote 2 to collect and manage end-of-life lamps. These measures contribute to the implementation of the Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility, which commits the Canadian jurisdictions to work towards the development of extended producer responsibility framework legislation or regulations to ensure that various end-of-life products and materials are diverted from landfills. During the development of the code of practice, the department consulted with experts from provincial and territorial governments, industry and stewardship organizations, and other stakeholders.
The code of practice maybe used as guidance by various Canadian governmental jurisdictions within their waste management programs or regulatory frameworks and by stakeholders. Aspects of the code of practice could also be referenced in industry plans for recycling programs that may be required under provincial and territorial waste management regimes.
The objective of the code of practice is to provide best practices for collection, storage, transportation and processing of Mercury-containing lamps at their end of life, that when followed, will prevent the release of mercury to the environment. It should be noted that the code of practice does not prescribe specific methods or technologies; rather, it provides information on best practices, options and considerations for various activities of end-of-life management of mercury-containing lamps.
The code of practice is based on current environmentally sound management practices and concepts that have been developed by domestic and international bodies to prevent and reduce releases of mercury to the environment, taking into account economic and technical considerations. It also includes information on the diversion and end-of-life management options for northern and remote areas where access to recycling and disposal facilities is limited.
The code of practice is intended to be applicable to facilities and operators who handle, collect, store, transport or process end-of-life mercury-containing lamps in Canada. The best practices in the code of practice may be used to manage various types of mercury-containing lamps including fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent light bulbs, fluomeric lamps, metal halide lamps (for example, for stadium or warehouse lighting applications), mercury vapour discharge lamps (for example, for street and floodlighting applications), sodium vapour lamps (for example, for street and floodlighting applications), cold cathode and external fluorescent lamps (for example, for electronic display applications and signs), and automotive high-intensity discharge lamps.
4. Collection and storage
The collection and segregation of end-of-life mercury-containing lamps for proper recycling and treatment prior to disposal diverts them from the general waste stream. This in turn reduces the amount of mercury going to municipal landfills or incineration, where it is difficult and expensive to address mercury releases to air, leachate and waste water effluent. The lamps should be properly and securely collected and stored, using the best practices that follow, until they are sent for processing, treatment and/or disposal at an authorizedFootnote 3 waste management facility. In addition, the collection program administratorsFootnote 4 and site operatorsFootnote 5 should inform all persons (workers and the public) who are involved in the collection and storage of these lamps so that they are aware of the importance of proper handling and are provided with instruction on how to place lamps into containers, and handle and store lamps to prevent their breakage. See also section 12 on worker training and section 13 on public awareness and participation for more information.
4.1 Collection mechanisms
Convenient collection services make it easier for consumers to return lamps, which improves diversion rates for lamp recycling programs. Easily accessible collection options will encourage more waste generators and the public to use them. Examples of collection mechanisms used in Canada include:
- Municipal collection stations or drop-off depots for household hazardous waste or special waste:Footnote 6 Designated collection facilities owned and operated by municipalities accept end-of-life mercury-containing lamps for proper management. Municipal household hazardous waste depots located at the landfill are the most typical municipal drop-off locations. Other drop-off locations include municipal buildings and collection events. Accessibility of drop-off locations and frequency of service can vary from one municipality to the next depending on factors such as the size and population distribution of the municipality. Smaller municipalities are more likely to hold collection campaigns or event days rather than have permanent drop-off locations.
- Retail take-back programs: Retail take-back programs offer users an easy and convenient location to drop off spent lamps for proper recycling. Collection containers are typically placed near the store’s entrance, and drop off is free of charge. This option is often found in provincial jurisdictions with regulated extended producer responsibility programs. It is common for retailers to only accept compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), although some offer collection services for fluorescent tubes and other lamps as well. By being located in places where consumers buy lamps, retail collection stations provide an effective means to retrieve spent lamps from those consumers and the general public. However, special care should be taken at these publicly accessible and often “self-serve” stations to prevent mishandling and accidental breakage of spent lamps. It is important for retail drop-off stations with publicly accessible collection containers to: locate collection containers where they will not pose a hazard to people moving through the area; inform the workers and public on how to properly handle and place lamps into collection containers; and monitor the collection stations to make sure that lamps are properly placed into the containers, the containers are in good condition, and that full containers are emptied regularly. For more information on collection sites and containers, see subsection 4.4.
- Pick-up services: Consumers or waste generators (commercial and institutional users, and property or building managers) call their local municipality or supplier to schedule a pick-up of their spent lamps. Many of the regulated extended producer responsibility programs offer this service free of charge to residential and commercial users since the recycling fee is paid when the lamps are purchased. In Canadian jurisdictions without such regulated programs, service providers pick up spent lamps for a fee from commercial users.
- Pre-paid shipping service: A consumer or waste generator purchases a box designed to store and ship spent lamps for recycling. The recycling service and shipping costs are included in the cost of the box. When the box is full, the user seals the box and ships it directly to the recycler. Pre-paid shipping boxes are convenient for small waste generators and, in particular, those in northern or remote locations with limited transportation options.
- Procurement programs: Commercial users recycle spent lamps via the procurement and acquisition of goods or services in a reverse logistics collection program. First, businesses include end-of-life management in their request for proposals or purchasing contracts for replacing spent lamps. Consequently, the cost of lamp recycling is part of the purchase price. Then, when the service provider replaces the mercury-containing lamps, they remove and transport the spent lamps, using the same truck used to transport the new lamps to the user, back to their warehouse where the lamps are stockpiled before being transported to an authorized lamp processor. A reverse logistics collection model improves efficiency by distributing and collecting lamps in the same trip.
4.2 Collection sites and facilities
There are three main types of collection and storage facilities: primary collection sites, intermediate consolidation storage facilities, and warehousing and commercial consolidation storage facilities.
Immediately following the collection from residents or businesses, end-of-life Mercury-containing lamps are usually held at a primary collection site. These collection sites include municipal waste depots, municipal buildings, retail locations and private collection sites. Primary collection sites should have sufficient space to sort and separate different types of lamps, as certain processors require lamps to arrive at their facility pre-sorted. These sites should also have adequate capacity to store lamps separately from other materials to prevent the mixing of incompatible materials and to maintain the integrity of the tracking system.
From the primary collection site, end-of-life lamps may be sent to an intermediate consolidation facility where they are added to other lamps prior to being sent to the processor. The requirements for managing end-of-life lamps at these facilities depend on the requirements of the Canadian jurisdiction and whether end-of-life lamps are considered hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material under the provincial or territorial legislation in which the facilities operate. In some cases, spent whole lamps are exempted from provincial or territorial waste management legislation, and they can be managed in a manner similar to new lamps, as long as they are destined for a recycling facility. Lamps that have been deliberately crushed or accidently broken may be considered hazardous under provincial or territorial legislation, and subject to specific requirements for their management.
In addition, end-of-life lamps can be collected and temporarily stored at warehousing or commercial consolidation facilities provided that the material is not considered hazardous by the provincial or territorial jurisdiction in which the facility operates. A commercial consolidation facility can be a retail or commercial facility that collects small quantities of lamps from either the general public or other commercial operators.
4.3 Drum top lamp crusher devices
It is preferred that lamps are kept whole and unbroken during storage and transport in order to minimize potential human exposure to mercury and prevent releases to the environment by containing the mercury within the lamps until they reach the processing facility. However, it may be necessary or practical to store and transport lamps in a crushed state in some circumstances. Where storage space is limited or transportation is so costly (for example, in northern and remote communities) as to make it impractical to store or transport whole lamps, collection and storage facilities could choose to employ drum top lamp crusher devices to reduce high volumes of lamps to facilitate storage and transport. The use of drum top lamp crusher devices is an allowed practice by many provincial and territorial jurisdictions; however, it is important that drum top lamp crusher devices are equipped with mercury particle and vapour capture systems and are used properly to minimize potential risks to human health and prevent releases to the environment.
Drum top lamp crusher devices can be manual, electrical or air powered. The crushing unit is typically mounted on the lid of a 205-litre drum. All of the crushed materials (glass, phosphor, metal, plastic and mercury) are contained in the drum. Airborne mercury phosphor powder and mercury vapour are captured by a combination of a series of high-efficiency particulate arrestor (HEPA) and activated carbon filter systems. The amount of airborne mercury particles that each filter can handle depends on the mercury content of the bulbs and the number of bulbs that are crushed. It should be recognized that older bulbs that are now reaching end of life are likely to have higher mercury content than those currently on the market. The drum top lamp crusher manufacturer’s specifications and instructions should detail handling procedures that minimize human exposure and prevent mercury releases to the environment.
Operators and facilities that employ drum top lamp crusher devices should also be aware that changing Mercury-containing bulbs from a whole to a crushed state may result in the material classification changing from a non-hazardous to a hazardous material under provincial, territorial and federal legislation. This change in classification can mean additional requirements for permits, management, transportation and/or disposal for the material. For example, exports and imports of crushed lamps that meet the leachate test criteria for mercuryFootnote 7 would be considered hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material under the federal Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations and would be subject to the requirements of these regulations. The following are best practices for the use of drum top lamp crusher devices.
|Drum top crushers||
a United States Environmental Protection Agency, Fluorescent Lamp Recycling (February 2009; EPA530-R-09-001) (PDF, 420 kB).
4.4 Handling, collection, packaging and storage
End-of-life mercury-containing lamps should be handled, collected, packaged and stored in a manner that minimizes the potential for human exposure to the hazards associated with the material and prevents accidental breakage or contamination that can lead to releases of mercury to the environment. Effort should be taken to ensure the lamps remain whole and unbroken, which includes using proper storage containers and training staff on the safe handling of lamps. The following are best practices for the collection and storage of end-of-life mercury-containing lamps.
|Collection and handling||
|Packaging and labelling||
a Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. Technical Guidelines on the Environmentally Sound Management of Wastes Consisting of, Containing or Contaminated with Mercury or Mercury Compounds. Adopted in 2015.
b The most common and commercially available packaging options for loose end-of-life lamps are 20-litre pails and 205-litre drums with secure fitting lids. Most large municipalities use drums to collect and store tubes and bulbs. Some facilities use commercially available cardboard boxes to store small quantities of lamps, because cardboard boxes are less expensive and could be easily disposed after use (provided they are not contaminated so as to make them hazardous waste). However, cardboard boxes would need to be protected from moisture, would take up more space than a drum, and are not as sturdy as drums. If used, cardboard containers and boxes should be lined with plastic. When the container is full, the liner should be tied or taped together to create a seal to prevent mercury releases. Seams should be sealed with packing tape.
c It is preferable that the containers be closed at all times to the extent possible. This can be accomplished by using a container lid, a swing lid mechanism, or an automatic container closure system.
5. Materials management and emergency response plans
Collection sites, storage facilities, transporters and waste management facilities may be required to have a materials or hazardous waste management plan and an emergency response plan, in accordance with federal, provincial, and territorial legislation and requirements, to respond to spills, fires and other emergencies that might occur. The scope and extent of the materials management and/or emergency response plan would depend on the activities of the site, facility or operations, the volumes of lamps being handled or managed, and the applicable federal, provincial, territorial and municipal regulations and requirements.
|Materials management plan||
|Emergency response plan||
|Reporting of emergencies and spills||
a The information is based on the requirements under the federal Environmental Emergency Regulations, with modifications to replace “substance” with “mercury waste”. For more information on these requirements and the requirements for notification and reporting of environmental emergencies, please refer to the Environmental Emergency Regulations.
5.1. Managing spills and broken lamps
Collection sites, storage facilities and transporters should have a protocol for managing broken lamps and spills that may occur during storage or transit. Broken lamps should be cleaned up as soon as possible, and care should be taken during cleanup to minimize potential human health risks from exposure to mercury and prevent releases of mercury to the environment. Information on cleanup procedures for broken fluorescent lamps is published on Health Canada’s website. For a large amount of spilled or broken lamps, it may be necessary to obtain the assistance of qualified personnel for professional cleanup or air monitoring. If the operator is uncertain whether a spill would be classified as "large", they should contact local environmental health authorities as a precaution. The United States Environmental Protection Agency also provides information on how to clean up broken lamps containing mercury. Although the information on these web sites is generally geared towards households, it may be adapted for other locations. Best practices for the cleanup and management of broken lamps include the following.
|Cleanup materials and spill kits||
|Management of waste contaminated with mercury||
|Reporting of spills||
6. Tracking and inventory systems
Collection facilities, waste management facilities and transporters should implement a tracking and inventory system to ensure that collected lamps are accounted for and reach the processing or disposal facility by following them through every stage of management including the primary collection site, intermediate storage, transportation, and processing and/or disposal.
The responsibility for tracking and maintaining inventory systems is shared among the collector, transporter, processor and waste management facility. Each of them has the responsibility to comply with all federal, provincial and territorial requirements for tracking and maintaining inventory systems.
When designing the tracking and inventory system, it is important to consider whether there is an extended producer responsibility program in the province or territory (which may have its own tracking and reporting mechanism or specific reporting requirements), the complexity of the chain of custody (for example, the number of intermediate stops the lamps make as they move toward final processing), and whether the lamps are considered hazardous and require movement documents under federal, provincial and/or territorial legislation.
|Tracking and inventory systems||
Transportation requirements are prescribed by federal, provincial and territorial regulations. Whole and crushed lamp materials may be considered “dangerous goods” under the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, and if so, must comply with these regulations when they are transported.Footnote 8 International and interprovincial movements of end-of-life mercury-containing lamps defined as hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material must comply with the requirements of the federal Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations and the Interprovincial Movement of Hazardous Waste Regulations. Transporting mercury waste that is considered a dangerous good, hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material also needs to comply with applicable provincial or territorial requirements.
End-of-life mercury-containing lamps should be transported in such a way as to avoid accidental spills, and its movement should be tracked to its destination. Whether transported between primary collection facilities to intermediate storage facilities or from intermediate storage facilities to final processing facilities, the following are best practices for the transport of end-of-life lamps.
Lamp processing should maximize the recovery of lamp materials while preventing releases of mercury to the environment and minimizing risks to human health. This involves crushing the lamps and separating the component parts (glass, metal, mercury phosphor powder) in sealed chambers and processing units equipped with pollution control devices (for example, mercury vapour and dust and/or mercury-contaminated waste water capture systems) to prevent the release of mercury to the environment.
Whole lamps are transferred by a conveyor into an enclosed and sealed container or chamber for first-stage crushing. Then the material goes through a ferromagnetic separator, which separates the metals from the other materials. The metal is crushed or shredded further to prepare it for secondary (that is, recycled or scrap) markets. The glass and mercury phosphor powder are separated by a ventilation system that consists of cyclones and filters. The glass then goes through a second-stage crusher. The glass may need further treatment to remove any traces of mercury before it can go directly to secondary markets. A thermal separation process separates the mercury and the phosphor powder by applying high levels of heat that vapourize the mercury. The separated phosphor powder is prepared for secondary markets.
The vapourized mercury is cooled, condensed and collected. The recovered mercury may then go to: recycling and re-use in new products or applications; further treatment to stabilize the mercury prior to disposal in an engineered landfill; or further processing prior to long-term storage of elemental mercury. Sections 9 and 10 provide further information on recycling and disposal of mercury waste.
The following are best practices for processing end-of-life mercury-containing lamps.
|Documentation and record keeping||
|Separation and processing||
|Equipment design and operation||
|Maintenance and inspection||
|Facility closure or decommissioning plan||
a A risk assessment is a process to identify and evaluate the human health risks associated with emissions of toxic air pollutants, and to determine the actions needed to mitigate those risks and reduce exposure to protect human health. Risk assessments are conducted in accordance with federal, provincial and territorial requirements.
9. Recycling of materials
Materials recovered from the processing of end-of-life mercury-containing lamps should be recycled whenever possible. These materials include, but are not limited to, mercury, phosphor powder, other metal, glass, and plastic. The mercury from lamps is usually recovered by thermal treatment and distillation. Other wastes containing or contaminated with mercury or mercury compounds may undergo other processes to recover the mercury, such as chemical oxidation, chemical precipitation, and adsorption treatment. Mercury recovery processes are described in the Basel Convention Technical Guidelines on the Environmentally Sound Management of Wastes Consisting of, Containing or Contaminated with Mercury or Mercury Compounds adopted in May 2015. They include:
- Thermal treatment/desorption: Physical separation process whereby a mercury-containing material is heated to a high temperature to volatilize and separate the mercury from the other material, and then the mercury is collected. Thermal treatment system consists of two major components: the desorber that is equipped with a mercury vapour technology to recover the mercury, and an off-gas treatment system to prevent mercury emissions to the environment (UNEP 2015).
- Chemical oxidation: Chemical oxidation (using oxidizing reagents such as sodium hypochlorite, ozone, hydrogen peroxide, chlorine dioxide and free chlorine gas) is applied to elemental mercury and organomercury compounds to destroy the organics and to convert mercury to a soluble form (that is, mercury halide, such as HgCl2 or HgI2), which can then be separated from the waste matrix and sent for further treatment. Chemical oxidation is effective for treating liquid waste containing or contaminated with mercury (UNEP 2015).
- Chemical precipitation: Chemicals are used to transform dissolved mercury to an insoluble solid, or to adsorb dissolved, colloidal or suspended mercury that is precipitated, and removed from a liquid matrix (UNEP 2015).
- Adsorption treatment: Chemical separation process whereby a liquid containing or contaminated with mercury is passed through an adsorption material, and the mercury is adsorbed on the surface of the material through chemical forces such as hydrogen bonds, dipole-dipole interactions and van der Waals forces (UNEP 2015).
- Distillation: Mercury is purified through a process involving a series of selective evaporation and condensation. The liquid mercury is heated to a temperature at which the impurities evaporate, or the mercury itself evaporates, and mercury is collected. The distillation process is performed multiple times, with the purity increasing each time, to achieve high-purity elemental mercury (UNEP 2015). Distillation is required to purify elemental mercury for commercial use or for long-term storageFootnote 9 .
10. Disposal of materials
If residual material from end-of-life lamps cannot be recycled or re-used, then an appropriate and safe disposal option should be determined. Considerations for the disposal of mercury wastes include the following:
- waste facilities should implement measures to prevent releases of mercury to the environment
- mercury destined for long-term storage must meet all criteria and requirements of the jurisdiction in which the storage facility operates
- prior to disposal of mercury wastes in an engineered hazardous waste landfill, the waste should be treated or stabilized to meet all requirements for disposal in a landfill
- given that mercury in waste is emitted during incineration (that is, mercury cannot be destroyed by incineration), the amount of mercury in the waste fed into the incinerator should be minimized, and the incinerator should be equipped with air pollution control devices in order to control emissions of mercury
- waste facilities should undertake monitoring and documentation, by qualified personnel, of facility releases and emissions of mercury to the environment (emissions, releases from landfills or run-offs, etc.).
- inspection and testing of equipment and facilities should be carried out by a qualified independent third party on a regular basis, as required by applicable legislation and other requirements
11. Administration, record keeping and reporting
Storage and processing facilities should establish and implement a process to identify, track, assess and ensure compliance with legislation and requirements, such as those pertaining to environmental protection, waste and hazardous waste management, occupational health and safety, air emissions and water discharge monitoring and release limits, and transport of materials. The facility should have designated person(s) responsible for facility compliance with legislation and requirements, and for maintaining documentation and record keeping.
The following information, pertaining to mercury-containing lamps or processed materials received or shipped by the facility, should be recorded and kept in a central repository:
- date, number of units, description and origin of each shipment of lamps or material accepted at the facility, and acknowledgement that the shipment was inspected and corresponds with the information on the manifest or bill of lading
- date, number of units, description and destination of each shipment of lamps or material shipped out of the facility, and confirmation of receipt of the shipments by the receiving facility
- monthly summaries of material movement, and
- documentation with respect to any permits or certifications for operations, environmental regulations, occupational health and safety regulations, and hazardous waste management regulations, materials management and emergency response plans, insurance, facility plans, maintenance or inspection records, audits, recovery rates, safe operations, or worker training
All records, including repository, manifests, bills of lading, waste records, and chain of custody of end-of-life lamps, should generally be kept for a minimum of five years, unless otherwise specified by federal, provincial, or territorial regulations or requirements. The facility should assign a person to be responsible for keeping and maintaining records and documentation.
The selection of processors and waste management facilities (for example, recyclers, commodity markets and/or safe disposal) should be a documented procedure that outlines the steps taken to define the requirements, develop the evaluation criteria and carry out the evaluation process.
12. Worker training
Employee training requirements for hazardous materials are typically prescribed by the authority that has jurisdiction, which in most cases is the provincial or territorial health and safety regulator. The regulations set out the minimum standard of training that the employers must provide to their employees and may require that the employers document and be able to provide proof of the training. In addition, there are employee training requirements under other regulations, such as provincial fire codes, the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations and provincial codes for commercial vehicle operators.
Where there are no specific training requirements for handling end-of-life mercury lamps, workers at lamp management sites should receive training in conjunction with other employee training that gives proper instruction on how to receive, store and manage hazardous materials (for example, Workplace Hazardous Material Information System). This level of training could be appropriate for workers at municipal or retail collection sites where various hazardous wastes or hazardous recyclable materials are collected and not just mercury-containing end-of-life lamps.
13. Public awareness and participation
Public awareness and participation are key to the success of recycling programs and efforts. By informing consumers and waste generators of the importance of environmentally sound management, and encouraging their participation in the collection and recycling, the amount of spent lamps that are diverted from municipal landfills and recycled can be increased. Public awareness and participation need to be supported by having convenient collection options that are publicly accessible, and easy to get to, identify, and use. The following are best practices for promoting public awareness and participation.
|Promoting public awareness and participation||
14. Other considerations
Businesses or facilities that handle or manage end-of-life mercury-containing lamps need to consider the requirements and should consult any guidance for worker health and safety established by the jurisdiction in which they operate. Health Canada’s guideline for mercury exposure limit is 0.025 mg/m3 (for elemental and inorganic mercury). The exposure limit for national occupational health standards is set by the Canada Labour Code and its regulations, and is based on the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for Chemical Substances, as determined by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.Footnote 10 Please contact the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety or the ministry responsible for occupational health and safety in the appropriate province or territory for more information.
15. Options and considerations for the diversion and management of end-of-life mercury-containing lamps in northern and remote areas
The best practices presented in the previous sections should be applied to the management of end-of-life mercury-containing lamps by facilities and operators who handle, collect, store, transport and process these materials in Canada. However, recognizing that northern and remote regions often face unique challenges that can make it difficult to collect and manage end-of-life mercury-containing lamps, including limited storage facilities, absence of local recycling facilities, high cost of freight to southern markets, limited transportation options, and lack of regulatory or financial incentives for private industry to develop markets and infrastructure for recycling, the code of practice includes additional information for the implementation of the best practices that takes into consideration these challenges. This section presents information on partners and champions, public outreach, and options for collecting, storing and transporting end-of-life mercury-containing lamps in northern and remote communities which can be used to facilitate the implementation of the best practices.
15.1. Partners and champions
Initiatives and programs to collect and manage end-of-life mercury-containing lamps should first consider establishing partnerships and engaging champions in the community or local region to help develop, promote and implement their activities. Partners and champions help with the extensive coordination and preparation required to collect sufficient quantities of spent lamps to make their transportation to recycling facilities economically viable, given the infrequent and seasonal transport opportunities that exist for northern and remote communities. They can also bring, or act as connections to, important resources such as funding, supplies and materials, services, equipment, facilities, knowledge and skills for collecting and recycling spent lamps. It is best to form these relationships early to get their expertise to help advance and implement effective activities and minimize wasted effort. Partners can include various levels of government, community associations, stewardship or EPR organizations, industry associations, environmental groups, and members from the local community.
Champions help encourage the uptake of an initiative by serving as point of contact and coordinator for implementing the initiative within a community. A champion from the local community, who is familiar with the people and activities within the area, could disseminate information quickly and effectively, influence and encourage consumers and waste generators to keep and collect their spent lamps, help find locations and facilities to store collected lamps, and help find transporters and other partners to move or direct the lamps to environmentally sound management facilities.
15.2. Public outreach
Public participation can often be the deciding factor on whether a waste diversion initiative is successful in achieving its desired outcome. The consumer or waste generator must bring or send spent lamps to a collection point for the lamps to be recycled. To achieve good participation in northern and remote communities, it is important to implement early outreach (ideally one year in advance) and supporting activities to inform and encourage consumers and waste generators to collect their used lamps.
Outreach and supporting activities could include:
- distributing pictorial information or information in the local language of the community
- providing sturdy collection boxes or packaging material for spent lamps to consumers and waste generators for use in their homes or buildings
- providing regular pick-up services to collect lamps from households, and commercial and institutional buildings that are located far from primary collection sites
- conducting collection or awareness campaigns with activities to promote environmentally sound management
- publicizing collection events or campaigns, and
- distributing information at gathering or meeting places, facilities and events
15.3. Collection and storage
Generally, northern and remote communities are isolated from each other as well as from lamp collection and processing facilities. As such, end-of-life lamps could be dropped off at small primary collection locations (such as community centres, municipal waste depots or buildings, and retail locations) established within each community when regional collection points may not be feasible. Once the accumulated quantities warrant it, the end-of-life lamps can be transported to a processor. Alternatively, end-of-life lamps may be sent directly from the waste generator to a lamp processor using pre-paid shipping boxes for recycling.
In areas where the quantity of end-of-life lamps generated is small compared with the quantity of hazardous and other special wastes generated, it may be more economical to consolidate collection services for a variety of hazardous or special waste products in order to reduce collection costs. For example, collection services for end-of-life lamps could be combined with the collection for batteries, small electronics, other mercury-added products, or other waste products or recyclables. Additionally, users may be more likely to take advantage of these services since they may drop off several waste products in one convenient location.
An alternative to long-term or permanent collection sites is scheduled collection days at temporary locations or mobile collection stations that travel from community to community to pick up and consolidate end-of-life lamps. Care would need to be taken to prevent accidental breakage and releases of mercury during collection and storage by using the most appropriate best practices identified in the code of practice.
A large part of the overall recycling costs in northern and remote areas is the transportation cost; therefore, to determine collection and storage needs, factors to consider will be the location of the processor and available transportation options. In general, the further the distance from the processor, the higher the transportation cost. Controlling overall costs may mean less frequent shipments to the processor and, hence, the capacity to store larger quantities of materials between shipments. Consolidating lamp materials for storage from many waste generators, or in coordination with the collection of other waste product or materials, provides an opportunity to share the costs of their management.
Due to limited storage capacity and high transportation costs, facilities in northern and remote communities may choose to employ drum top lamp crusher devices. The use of these devices is an allowed practice by many provincial and territorial jurisdictions; however, it is important that the devices are equipped with mercury particle and vapour capture systems and are used properly to minimize potential risks to human health and prevent releases to the environment. Subsection 4.3 of the code of practice provides information on best practices and considerations when using drum top lamp crusher devices.
Transportation costs are typically the most significant cost for managing end-of-life lamps, and are often barriers to removing these lamps from northern and remote communities. Remote communities that are beyond the road-line may be accessed by air, rail, seasonal roads or boat. All of these modes of transportation are subject to weather constraints, which can further limit access to these communities. Various types of partnerships may provide ways to reduce these costs, including partnerships between communities, with large commercial operators, or by adding lamp collection to existing local recycling programs.
End-of-life lamps could be shipped by one of these modes of transportation to a partner community that has access to a road or greater transportation network. Once the material has reached a road or railhead, it can be shipped to a processing facility; for example, remote communities that are accessible by infrequent barge or air transport could ship end-of-life lamps to a partner community to be consolidated and transported by road or rail to a processor.
There are a number of large year-round commercial operations, such as mining facilities, in various parts of northern Canada that may be able to provide access to their transportation providers for the removal of end-of-life lamps. These commercial operations could act as intermediate storage sites prior to the material being sent to a processor or could support transport of spent materials out of the communities.
It may be feasible to take advantage of existing local recycling programs (that is, stewardship or collection efforts for other hazardous or special waste products) to coordinate the collection of lamps with other types of materials or wastes for shipment to processing or intermediate storage facilities. Northern and remote communities often receive new goods by road, air or barge. Opportunities to partner with shipping companies or retailers to leverage backhaul options could reduce costs as well as the number of transport trips required to bring end-of-life lamps to a processor. Retailers and waste generators in northern and remote communities could put in place procurement programs that include the back-haul of materials. Procurement programs are described in subsection 4.1.
16. Review of progress and need for further action
The code of practice will be reviewed and updated periodically to take into account advancement in technologies and practices and new developments under international agreements. In addition, the Department will assess the usefulness of the code of practice in achieving its goal of environmentally sound management of end-of-life mercury-containing lamps.
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) 2009. Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility. (PDF, 191 kB)
Environment Canada 2014. Discussion paper - Proposed elements for a code of practice for the Environmentally Sound Management of End-of-life Mercury-containing Lamps and Targeted Guidance for the North.
Government of Canada. Department of Justice. Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, List of toxic substances (S.C. 1999, c. 33).
Government of Canada. Department of Justice. Environmental Emergency Regulations (SOR/2003-307).
Government of Canada. Department of Justice. Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (SOR/2005-149).
Health Canada. Safety of compact fluorescent lamps.
Health Canada. Mercury: your health and the environment: a resource tool.
Transport Canada. Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations.
United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) 2015: Technical Guidelines on the Environmentally Sound Management of Wastes Consisting of, Containing or Contaminated with Mercury or Mercury Compounds. Adopted by the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal in May 2015 (UNEP/CHW.12/5/Add.8/Rev.1) (http://www.basel.int/TheConvention/ConferenceoftheParties/Meetings/COP12/tabid/4248/ctl/Download/mid/13268/Default.aspx?id=495&ObjID=14366).
United States of America, Environmental Protection Agency 2006. Mercury Lamp Drum-Top Crusher Study. August 24, 2006; EPA530-R-06-002.
United States of America, Environmental Protection Agency 2009. Fluorescent Lamp Recycling. February 2009; EPA530-R-09-001. (PDF, 420 MB)
United States of America, Environmental Protection Agency. “Cleaning Up a Broken CFL”.
Acronyms and initialisms
- CEPA 1999
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- Compact fluorescent lamp
- Extended producer responsibility
- High-efficiency particulate arrestor
For additional information:
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