Risk management strategy for products containing mercury: chapter 7

Risk Management Tools / Instruments to be Developed

Following the development of technical background and socioeconomic studies on mercury-containing products and alternatives in Canada, the most appropriate management tools for achieving the risk management objective were selected by qualitatively evaluating a range of management tools against a set of criteria. Evaluation criteria included environmental effectiveness, economic efficiency, distributional impact, political and public acceptability, jurisdictional compatibility and international obligations.

The full suite of risk management tools was evaluated including CEPA 1999 regulatory instruments, market based tools (economic instruments), suasive/voluntary tools and information provision tools.

According to analyses at this time, the tool deemed most appropriate for managing mercury releases from mercury-containing products, to a level consistent with the risk management objective, is a regulation under section 93 of CEPA 1999 with the following potential components:

  • Prohibition of mercury-containing products for which mercury-free alternatives exist.
  • Prohibition of mercury use in new products, not currently available on the Canadian market, with possible exemptions.
  • Mercury content limits in products for which mercury-free alternatives do not exist (novelty items excluded).
  • Extended producer responsibility requirements for end-of-life mercury-containing products.
  • Labeling requirements for mercury-containing products.

To address areas where the proposed regulation may not be sufficient to meet the risk management objectives, several complementary tools were also identified. Complementary tools and potential areas of application are as follows:

  • Pollution Prevention Plans - To address end-of-life issues where extended producer responsibility requirements in the primary instrument are not appropriate.
  • Codes of Practice - To address, for example, industries not subject to the proposed regulation but that use mercury-containing products.
  • Reporting requirements for an inventory of mercury-containing products - To assist with compliance promotion and monitoring.

In addition to these complementary tools, potential avenues for managing the ultimate fate of mercury from end-of-life products, including the development of long-term storage considerations, will be explored to help ensure recovered mercury is not released to the environment through other sources.

Specific applications and design of complementary tools will be determined during the completion of a quantitative analysis (cost-benefit) of the proposed regulation. A communication plan will be prepared in conjunction with the implementation of the RMS that will outline activities to be undertaken to help Canadians better understand and deal with the risks associated with mercury-containing products.

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