Development of a national strategy for disposal of lamps containing mercury: discussion paper

Official title: Development of a National Strategy for Safe and Environmentally Sound Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury: Discussion Paper

Table of Contents


The National Strategy for Safe and Environmentally Sound Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury Act (the Act) was enacted in June 2017.  The Act requires the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to develop a National Strategy by June 2019, in cooperation with the provinces, territories and other interested governments in Canada responsible for the environment, and in consultation with other interested persons or organizations deemed appropriate by the Minister.Footnote 1  The Minister must also report on implementation of the National Strategy every five years thereafter.

The Act suggests three elements for inclusion in the National Strategy:

  • Identification of best practices for safe and environmentally sound disposal;
  • Establishment of guidelines for facilities involved in end of life management; and,
  • Development of a plan to promote public awareness of the importance of safe and environmentally sound disposal.

While considering the above recommendations, there are also a number of key elements found in successful strategies which may be considered in the development of a National Strategy including: a shared vision of the future; common strategy goals and actions to be taken to achieve these goals; endorsement of strategy elements by relevant parties; clear timelines for implementation; and, measurement and evaluation of results achieved.

There are a variety of end-of-life management programs in place in Canada for lamps containing mercury that are administered by provincial, territorial, and municipal governments as well as the private sector. While there are no known technical barriers to the environmentally sound disposal of all lamps containing mercury in Canada, many of these lamps are still being improperly disposed, leading to releases of mercury into the environment.

Development of a National Strategy offers an opportunity to bring together all of the relevant information and compare elements of the various programs so that governments, the private sector, civil society and the public may identify and replicate best practices across the country. It provides an opportunity to better understand whether there are gaps in existing best practices, guidelines, and programs for end-of-life management. It also provides an opportunity to consider specific programs or approaches targeted to northern, remote, and small communities.

This discussion paper is designed to support collaboration and consultation for the development of a National Strategy for Safe and Environmentally Sound Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury. The document provides an overview of the current use and end-of-life management of lamps containing mercury in Canada, identifies potential broad goals for consideration in development of a National Strategy, and is intended to form the basis of a discussion between governments and stakeholders on how to define and achieve the goals of a National Strategy

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