Ontario revises approvals process
On May 17, 2009, the Ontario government introduced the Open For Business Act, which is intended to create a more competitive business environment in Ontario, while protecting the environment and public interest. There are over one hundred proposed amendments, including a proposal to streamline environmental approvals by using a risk-based approach.
To that end, the Ministry of the Environment has released a discussion paper entitled “Modernization of Approvals — Proposed Legislative Framework for Modernizing Environmental Approvals.” The goal of the modernization process is to introduce a new simplified process for activities that are classified as low-risk, are less complex or have standard requirements. This will allow the government to focus its resources on facilities and activities that are unique, complex or pose a potential risk to the environment and human health. It is predicted that this initiative will save businesses up to 25 per cent of their project application costs. The changes are intended to begin taking effect in September, 2012.
“Certificates of Approval,” the current permitting instrument, will be replaced by “Environmental Compliance Approvals.”
Quebec residuals regs
The Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (MDDEP) has published three proposed regulations to support implementation of its new Residual Materials Management Policy based on its five-year action plan. The objective is to reduce the quantity of disposed residual materials to 700 kilograms per person by 2015, and the Policy includes plans to increase recycling and ban the burial of organic matter. Quebec has set specific targets which include recycling 70 per cent of paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal waste, and processing 60 per cent of organic putrescible residual material using biological processes (including composting and “biomethanation”), all by 2015.
The MDDEP intends to ban the burial of paper and cardboard by 2013 and develop a strategy for banning the burial of putrescible organic materials (including leaves and grass cuttings, tables scraps and sludge from septic tanks and from purification of wastewater) by 2020. An infrastructure program will be implemented for municipalities and private-sector promoters to develop biological treatment facilities for organic matter using biomethanation and composting. The program will provide for financial assistance for up to 25 per cent of the eligible costs of a biomethanation project, and 20 per cent for a composting project. The total budget for the program is $650 million.
The Draft Regulation respecting the recovery and reclamation of products by enterprises is intended to reduce the quantity of residual materials sent for disposal. It requires that companies that market a new product implement programs within prescribed periods that meet certain requirements, and that collection points are established for recovery of products. Companies can be exempted provided they join an organization that implements a program for recovery and reclamation that has been approved under the Environment Quality Act.
The Draft Regulation to amend the Regulation respecting the charges payable for the disposal of residual materials provides that, for each tonne of residual materials received for disposal in an authorized landfill between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2015, the operator of a landfill site will be required to pay an additional charge of $9.50. This additional measure is aimed at reducing the amount of residual materials sent to a landfill.
The Draft respecting financial guarantees payable for the operation of an organic matter reclamation facility provides that the operation of an organic matter reclamation facility is conditional on establishing a financial guarantee intended to ensure the obligations of the operator under the Environment Quality Act.
Ontario approves first industry stewardship plan
Waste Diversion Ontario has approved an industry stewardship plan developed by the Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) for mercury-containing thermostats, making this the first time that an industry stewardship program has received approval from Waste Diversion Ontario.
HRAI had been operating a program since 2006 entitled “Switch the ‘Stat”. The program was operated in partnership with Summerhill Impact, which was formerly the Clean Air Foundation, and was an effective industry-operated program that recovered older, mercury-containing home thermostats. The toxic mercury component was safely captured and the remaining components of the thermometer were recycled. Contractors, utilities and manufacturers supported the program, thereby ensuring availability of information and access to a safe and free method of recycling older thermostats.
HRAI wanted Waste Diversion Ontario to accept and approve its existing program as an industry stewardship plan under the Waste Diversion Act, 2002. While Waste Diversion Ontario was willing to consider this proposal, it wanted to ensure that the existing program met all the regulatory requirements of start-up programs. Typically, new stewardship programs are developed and created by steward organizations through extensive research and planning.
Waste Diversion Ontario, after approximately five months of review, approved the program, which was the same program that has operated since 2006. HRAI recently obtained approval for its program in British Columbia under a much more streamlined process and is looking to expand its program nationally.
The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation’s program entitled “Charge up to Recycle!” is also seeking approval from Waste Diversion Ontario to replace the rechargeable battery component of the MHSW program. This program has been operating nationally for several years. In addition, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association has a cell phone program that that was started in 2009 in Western and Atlantic Canada, and that it is proposing as an alternative to the cell phone component of the waste electrical and electronic equipment program.
Rosalind Cooper, LL.B., is a partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, with offices across Canada. Ms. Cooper is based in Toronto, Ontario. Contact Rosalind at firstname.lastname@example.org