Implementation Plan for Canada-Wide Standards on Mercury Emissions from Fluorescent Lamps

Signed by CCME Ministers in May 2001.

(80% reduction, from 1990 levels, in the mercury content of lamps by 2010);

Mercury is an element which occurs naturally in soil, vegetation and the atmosphere. Mercury is used in some consumer products, such as electrical switches, fluorescent tubes or amalgam for dental fillings, and can be released to the environment usually through disposal at the end of a product's useful life. Mercury can also contaminate products incidentally, posing a concern for product disposal. Significant reductions in mercury use in products has already occurred in Canada. Mercury is being phased out of the manufacturing of chlorine; the bulk of bleaches and alkalis available in Canada do not contain elevated mercury levels. Mercury has been eliminated from pesticides and paints in Canada, and most batteries are now mercury free.

Mercury vapour in lamps produces a very efficient light source. Such lamps yield energy savings compared to incandescent bulbs, making them the preferred choice. However, spent lamps contain mercury vapour which is released to the atmosphere if the lamp is broken, and if a spent lamp is incinerated all of its mercury is released. Lamp recycling is available to ensure that the mercury does not enter the environment, and this is a potential "life-cycle" standard.

Federal government's overall approach to management of mercury emissions from fluorescent lamps will be:

  1. to monitor industry compliance with the reductions stipulated in the standard (80% reduction, from 1990 levels, in the mercury content of lamps by 2010);
  2. to work with the industry and the jurisdictions where lamps are manufactured to reduce mercury emissions from operations as reported under the National Pollutant Release Inventory; and,
  3. Environment Canada will work with other federal departments to encourage new mercury reduction and energy conservation purchasing considerations for lighting of federal buildings. These considerations will include replacement of high mercury content lamps and utilization of low mercury high efficiency lamps under programs such as the "Federal Buildings Initiative".

The Minister will offer to cooperate with the governments of the other CCME jurisdictions. It is the intention of the federal government to initiate partnership agreements with other concerned agencies and stakeholder groups in Canada whereby cooperative projects may be developed to benefit from economies of scale and presence of on-site recycling facilities during building renovations and modernization.

Information from CCME jurisdictions will be available through the National Pollutants Release Inventory mandated under the CEPA 1999. Information on federal projects will be available through direct request to the federal department or Environment Canada's Web site.

Under Section 46, CEPA 1999, the federal minister may require jurisdictions described under Part 9 to report on progress. Reports on industry compliance will be available on the EC Web site, following the development and application of appropriate analytical methodologies.

The Government of Canada will offer to assist in coordinating lamp retrofitting programs that may be of mutual benefit to other jurisdictions and the Canadian public.

Life-cycle management is an important consideration in production, utilization and disposal of fluorescent lamps. The government of Canada will assess final disposal options for end-of-life lamps in full consideration of short and long term impacts.

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