British Columbia has introduced the Environmental Management Act, which replaces the previous Environment Management Act and the Waste Management Act. The latter statute had been in place for 23 years. The changes relating to waste management issues are the result of comprehensive review of the Waste Management Act initiated in 2002.
While the former Act required that all activities and operations be accorded the same treatment by the government, the new legislation provides for differentiation. High-risk operations will require permits with numerous conditions imposed, medium risk activities will be covered by province-wide codes of practice, and low-risk activities will operate under a general prohibition against causing environmental harm. The intent is to divert government resources away from matters that have minimal potential for environmental harm to those that require greater governmental scrutiny.
Another significant change effected by the new Act is the use of administrative penalties as alternatives to criminal prosecution. Although regulations for administrative penalties have yet to be developed, it’s expected that the procedures for such penalties and the range of penalty amounts will be addressed within the regulations.
Ontario targets tires, sludge
Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO), the organization established pursuant to the Waste Diversion Act, 2002, is establishing programs for used oil and used tires by November 30, 2003 and January 30, 2004, respectively. Industry-funding organizations, consisting of brand owners and importers of tires and oil, in conjunction with WDO will develop the programs.
The Ontario government has issued orders with respect to nine sites where tires have been stockpiled. The government has also released a request for proposal to clean up the stockpiled tire sites in the event that the owners fail to do so and the Environmental SWAT Team inspecting other used tire sites.
The focus on stockpiled tires relates to concerns regarding potential fires and environmental hazards, as well as the prevention of breeding grounds for the West Nile virus. In this regard, the government has proposed an amendment to Regulation 347 under the Environmental Protection Act to require that used tire sites that pose a risk of spreading West Nile virus develop and implement a five-day plan to address the risk. (See Final Analysis, page 54.)
Another proposed amendment to Regulation 347 relates to land application of biosolids. Consultation and notification will now be required for land application of biosolids and other non-agricultural waste, including sewage sludge, pulp and paper biosolids and any other material that is not from an agricultural source and is capable of being applied to land as a nutrient. The requirements for consultation will apply as of December 1, 2003 and for notification as of Septem- ber 1, 2003.
NS increases beverage fees
Nova Scotia increased its handling fees for beverage containers. The Resource Recovery Refund Board approved a retroactive fee increase for the period April 1, 2002 to April 1, 2003 to 3.0 cents, and an increase to 3.1 cents commencing April 1, 2003. The beverage container handling fees are paid to Enviro-Depot operators. The directors of the Board intend to develop a long-term strategy for container handling fees in conjunction with Enviro-Depot operators, with the objective of having a strategy in place by April 1, 2004.
Companies are beginning to undertake their own initiatives to deal with electronics waste management. Bell Mobility announced a program entitled “Recycle, Reuse, Redial” which involves the diversion of used phones from landfills. They have estimated that, in the first year, approximately 50,000 used phones or approximately 22,639 kilograms of waste will be diverted. Sixty per cent of the used phones will likely be recycled, with the remaining 40 per cent reused, including through donations to charitable organizations and through resale to foreign countries. Any proceeds generated through sales would be used to support the program. (See article, page 11.)
Shoppers Drug Mart launched a program to reduce bio-medical waste in landfills in Alberta. Patients may pick up free sharps containers from their pharmacist and use them at home and work for disposal of used sharps and test strips. Once the container is full, it’s exchanged for a new one at the pharmacy. An Alberta-based waste specialist picks up the full containers for disposal at a government-approved incinerator.
Rosalind Cooper, LL.B. is a partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, with offices across Canada. Ms. Cooper is based in Toronto, Ontario. E-mail Rosalind at email@example.com