Final Frontier – Waste Diversion Laws Coming to Nunavut

The patchwork of waste diversion laws in Canada’s provinces and territories continues with the introduction of waste diversion legislation in the last holdout- the Territory of Nunavut.

First “Phase” Wastes Likely Regulated

Bill 27, the Waste Reduction and Diversion Act, sets as its goals the “establishment and enforcement of programs to reduce, recover or divert waste” as well as the “prohibition of materials that cause impairment of the natural environment”.  While the Bill is short on details, it would likely extend to most of the first phase of waste diversion in Canada, including:

  • printed paper and packaging (the Bill defines “packaging”)
  • waste electronics and electrical equipment
  • used oils and paints
  • tires
  • (perhaps) batteries and other MHSW

Waste Diversion Without Residency

Importers, brand owners, vendors and manufacturers will likely be obligated under most of these programs regardless of whether they have a business presence in the Territory.  Even printed paper and packaging diversion, which is conventionally applicable only to “residents” of a province or territory, may well be extended to non-resident distributors in Nunavut to ensure the diversion rates meet the overall program goals.

On-line and Distributed Sales Trigger Registration Obligations

 The introduction of what is admittedly a small-scale waste diversion program highlights the large-scale challenge facing those selling or distributing products into Canada with waste diversion product content – the tracking of distributions, including on-line sales, into each of Canada’s 13 jurisdictions and the consequent participation in (through industry groups or separately) legally-mandated waste diversion programs.

In short, the final frontier of waste diversion in Canada offers no sanctuary, but perhaps it’s the first step towards national, harmonized programs.

Jonathan D. Cocker heads Baker McKenzie’s Environmental Practice Group in Canada and is an active member of the firm's Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining and Infrastructure groups. Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environmental and product compliance matters, including extended producer responsibilities, dangerous goods transportation, GHS, regulated wastes, consumer product and food safety, and contaminated lands matters. He assisted in the founding of one of North America’s first Circular Economy Producer Responsibility Organizations and provides advice and representation to a number of domestic and international industry groups in respect of resource recovery obligations. Mr. Cocker was recently appointed the first Sustainability Officer of the International Bar Association Mr. Cocker is a frequent speaker and writer on environmental issues and has authored numerous publications including recent publications in the Environment and Climate Change Law Review, Detritus – the Official Journal of the International Waste Working Group, Chemical Watch, Circular Economy: Global Perspectives published by Springer, and in the upcoming Yale University Journal of Industrial Ecology’s special issue on Material Efficiency for Climate Change Mitigation. Mr. Cocker maintains a blog focused upon international resource recovery issues at environmentlawinsights.com.