4. Main Aspects of Proposed Amendments to EIHWR
Each session started with an overview of the main reforms. Environment Canada articulated the objective of this regulation: to protect Canada's environment from the potential risks posed by transboundary movement in hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials and to implement Canada's international obligations to protect the environment of other countries from uncontrolled exports of these wastes and recyclable materials from Canada.
The proposed revisions to the EIHWR address four main developments that have arisen since Environment Canada adopted the EIHWR in 1992 under the authority of the former Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1988 (CEPA 1988):
- Various trends in the type of wastes and materials being shipped necessitate new regulatory provisions;
- Canada's international obligations regarding transboundary shipments of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials have evolved;
- All stakeholders have learned lessons relevant to improving the effectiveness and efficiency with which the regulatory regime operates, some of which will require regulatory reforms; and
- The EIHWR are now under the authority of CEPA 1999, which provides various new authorities that were not available under CEPA 1988.
Since 1992, the volume of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials crossing Canada's border has increased. As well, during the last decade, various changes to the domestic and international legal regimes have occurred, and the parties involved in managing transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials have identified opportunities to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the design and implementation of the EIHWR. Through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Hazardous Waste Task Group (CCME HWTG), Environment Canada, the provinces and relevant industries have identified numerous opportunities to harmonize the relevant federal-provincial regimes, particularly in defining hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material.
The international regimes regulating the import and export of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable material have also evolved. These international obligations stem from three different agreements:
- the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 19891 (Basel Convention);
- the OECD Decision of Council concerning the control of transfrontier movements of wastes destined for recovery operations, C(92)39/Final, March 1992, as amended and replaced by C(2001)107/Final2 (OECD Decision); and
- the Canada-United States Agreement Concerning the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, 1986 (as amended in 1992)3 (Canada-US Agreement)
Since 1992, the Basel Convention has adopted new waste lists, new technical guidelines, a protocol on liability and compensation and a ban on exports from developed to developing countries. The 2001 OECD decision adopted the new Basel lists and made changes to the controls, including those for pre-approved recycling facilities and shipments through transfer stations.
Similarly, CEPA 1999 includes various important new provisions. One of the most important of these changes is the authority for a distinct control regime for hazardous recyclable materials. In addition, the new Act authorizes the Minister of Environment to:
- Prohibit exports, imports or transits in order to implement international agreements;
- Develop criteria to ensure the environmentally sound management (ESM) of wastes and recyclable materials, and to refuse permits for import or export if these criteria are not met;
- Issue permits for activities that differ from the requirements in the regulations but that are of an "equivalent level of environmental safety" (PELES); and
- Require the preparation of plans to reduce the exports of wastes destined for final disposal.
The new regulations will retain the primary objective of ensuring that environmental and human health is protected when transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials take place. As with the current EIHWR, the new regulations will establish controls that are consistent with Canada's international obligations. They will also contain substantial revisions from the current regulations in order to:
- Provide clearer, more streamlined obligations that place appropriate obligations on appropriate persons;
- Ban exports to non-OECD countries of hazardous waste for final disposal;
- Facilitate recycling by providing a distinct control regime for recyclable materials;
- Address each of the new CEPA 1999 authorities, including ESM, PELES and export waste reduction planning;
- Enhance the efficiency with which the control regime can be administered;
- Improve federal-provincial and US-Canadian harmonization; and
- Strengthen the linkages between the import/export regime and the other elements of CEPA 1999, including in particular the toxic substances' provisions (e.g., conditions on imports of substances slated for virtual elimination).
After Environment Canada's introductory comments, participants provided their overall thoughts on the proposed structure and content of the regulation including the following:
- Recycling stakeholders urged Environment Canada to take advantage of flexibility provided in international agreements to de-regulate selected "low-risk" recyclables in support of other government policies including the Minerals and Metals Policy and Kyoto ratification;
- Because of the negative stigma associated with hazardous waste, some stakeholders suggested that recyclables be controlled under separate regulations;
- Some stakeholders expressed concern over the redundancy of the proposed amendments. Requirements under Transport Canada's Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations appear to have significant overlap with the requirements under EIHWR. If possible, stakeholders would like to see greater streamlining of administrative requirements, including merging the now separate "movement documents" under a common framework;
- Each province regulates and manages hazardous waste differently. This complicates interprovincial movement, and in some cases may create "dumping grounds" in jurisdictions with less stringent requirements. The goal of these regulations should be to create consistent, enforceable requirements across all provinces, which would equalize the playing field for industry, and remove incentives to ship waste to jurisdictions with weaker controls. An example was provided of the movement of used oil from a province with stringent controls for disposal to another province with minimal or no control;
- It was suggested that Environment Canada should develop an on-going process for reviewing substances that are added to the list of toxics substances under CEPA 1999, and should include these substances under the EIHWR umbrella;
- Environment Canada should communicate regularly with other departments about the proposed amendments, and should provide training and awareness sessions to departments that play a direct role in the implementation and enforcement of EIHWR (e.g. DFAIT, CCRA, Health, Industry);
- Because over 90% of Canada's trade is with the United States, some stakeholders felt that there should be an attempt to further harmonize administrative and other requirements. Greater harmonization would ease transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and recyclables, and would increase transparency of cross-border shipments; and
- To limit the volume of waste entering Canada from the USA for final disposal, some argued that Environment Canada should establish controls that are more stringent than those in the USA. In the event that waste is still transported to a Canadian processing facility or disposal site, mechanisms must be in place to limit the overall risk to human health and the environment.
- Date modified: