Canada’s first provincial electronics products recycling program takes effect on October 1, 2004 in Alberta. The Electronics Designation Regulation under the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act contains the details of the program. Computer monitors, televisions, CPUs, keyboards, cables, laptops, notebook computers and printers will be included in the recycling program. While cell phones, stereos, VCRs, DVD players, electronic games and fax machines are not currently acceptable, they may be included at a later date.
A new non-profit organization, the Alberta Recycling Management Authority, will be created to manage the recycling program. The authority will have two separate divisions: one dealing with electronics recycling called “Electronics Recycling Alberta” and the other dealing with tire recycling called “Tire Recycling Alberta.” The authority’s responsibilities may later be expanded to include recycling programs for other materials.
The Alberta government is contemplating a fee of between $5 and $45, depending on the item, to cover the costs of operating the recycling program. The fee will be imposed on “first sellers” which consist of wholesalers, distributors and retailers. It’s expected that the fees will be passed on to consumers at the point of purchase.
Concern has been expressed that imposing the fee on first sellers will result in the exclusion of individuals and companies that import directly into Alberta, and that this is inconsistent with the efforts of manufacturers through Electronics Products Stewardship Canada to create a national extended producer responsibility system. However, Alberta Environment is in discussions with Canada Customs and Canada Post on possible methods to address this concern. (See Editorial, page 4.)
New biosolids land-application rules in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia has established new rules for the land application of biosolids. Specifically, the government has banned all biosolids from land application unless the biosolids have been treated in order to kill pathogens and meet established criteria. The “Guidelines for Land Application and Storage of Biosolids in Nova Scotia” took effect as of May 15, 2004, and have the force of law pursuant to the Environment Act.
According to the Nova Scotia government, the guidelines constitute the most stringent rules in North America with respect to the application of biosolids. The guidelines were necessary because sludge and biosolids cannot be buried in landfills in the province and therefore the only options are land application and incineration.
Companies that currently have approval for land application or storage of biosolids will have to comply with the technical standards under the guidelines in order to continue with these activities. New applicants will have to meet additional requirements under the guidelines, including public consultation and written confirmation of compliance with any local bylaws or planning regulations.
The guidelines require that an approval be obtained from the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour in order to apply biosolids. The approval contains specific terms and conditions that must be complied with, and includes the source of the biosolids, the specific land approved for application, separation distances, and testing requirements for biosolids and the soil to which they are applied. The applicant must also submit a nutrient management plan or land application plan to determine the quantity of biosolids that can be applied on each piece of approved land.
The guidelines also require that domestic wells within a certain distance of approved sites be sampled, and sets timeframes for growing crops intended for human consumption after application of the biosolids. Testing of biosolids for nutrients, metals, pH, stabilization and pathogens is required, and soil from application lands must be tested for nutrients, pH and metals before and after application of the biosolids.
Quebec releases regulation on curbside recycling costs
Quebec has released a draft regulation regarding curbside recycling costs which would require brand owners of packaged goods and print publishers to pay up to 50 per cent of municipal curbside recycling costs. The regulation is entitled “Recovery and Reclamation of Residual Materials — Compensation for Municipal Services Regulation” and the model is very similar to Ontario’s recently implemented system.
Eco-Enterprises Quebec will be the industry funding organization and will have representatives from: Corporations Supporting Recycling; the Socit des alcools du Qubec; the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, the Quebec Food Retailers Association; as well as retailers, the food and consumer goods industry and the diary industry. The concept is that fees would be remitted to the provincial recycling council, Recyc-Qubec, which will have responsibility for distribution of the collected money to municipalities. Recyc-Qubec will retain 6 per cent of fees in order to cover advertising, public education, market development activities and administrative costs.
Contribution by the print publishing industry to the stewardship fund is limited to $1.3 million per year for the first five years of the program. Industry may pay its fees through the provision of goods and services, and it is likely that the newspaper and magazine industry will cover these fees with free advertising and promotion of the new program. Municipalities appear to be content with the draft regulation with the exception of the 50 per cent limit on funding.
Quebec has also put forward an used oil stewardship program which will take effect on October 1, 2004. The regulation that establishes the program is entitled “Recovery and Reclamation of Used Oils, Oil or Fluid Containers and Used Filters Regulation” and will be managed by the Socit de gestion des huiles usages, which is a not-for-profit organization consisting of sixty brand owners formed in 2000. The objective of the Regulation is to recover 75 per cent of used oil, containers and filters by 2008, with a 70 per cent target being set for used oil and a 50 per cent target for containers and filters by 2005. Recovery targets may be calculated by weight or by volume, rather than by weight alone as originally proposed. Power steering fluid and brake fluid are excluded from the program.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org