Stewardship Tuesday Follows Cyber Monday in Canada

You are a multinational retailer, importer or brand owner and have been increasing your on-line sales in recent years, with a particular spike on Cyber Monday.   Your products are now reaching consumers in a number of international markets, including Canada.

Canada’s Waste Diversion Laws

You are aware that Canada, like the EU, has some waste diversion legal obligations but your product distribution is relatively small in that country and you don’t have much, if any, assets in Canada – you don’t have a Canadian subsidiary or branch office there.   You can’t imagine you have any diversion obligations in Canada and desperately hope you won’t need to go there in the winter.

No Residency – No Exemption 

Without legal (including tax) residency in Canada,  you don’t feel the need to inquire further into the Canadian waste diversion laws, but are surprised to learn that your lack of any Canadian residency (such as a warehouse, employees, or a sales/service footprint) does not entitle you to an exemption from most waste diversion laws in Canada and certain of these laws don’t even have minimum reporting thresholds.  If your waste-diverted products are distributed in Canada, you will likely be a product steward.

Multitude of Consumer Goods Diverted

You don’t trade in toxic goods anyway and hold out hope that your products won’t be caught by an over-eager Canadian fee-levying agency, only to see the diversion products list which includes:

  • electronic and electrical equipment;
  • batteries;
  • paints, oils, coatings;
  • light bulbs and lighting equipment;
  • tires; and
  • packaging and printed paper.

13 Provinces/Territories –  No Single “Canadian” Law

You are perplexed when you learn that there is (almost) no such thing as a Canadian waste diversion law and, instead 10 provinces and 2 territories have product waste diversion laws (with Nunavut’s laws in the works).

Worse, you locate the Canadian importation numbers only to learn that it is your product volumes upon entrance into each provincial/territorial market which needs to be the tracked.  You wonder if you even have ready access to this data.

Stewardship Program Participation Mandatory 

You are relieved to learn that you don’t have to actually divert the products directly (through a take-back scheme or otherwise) and instead must only become a registrant, reporter and fee payer to the provincial/territorial diversion plans applicable to your products.

You know that legal compliance requires discharge of these diversion duties, though still wonder if it couldn’t be a little simpler.   You know you must act soon as your on-line sales numbers are due out shortly and someone is going to ask questions if you don’t figure out your Canadian waste diversion obligations before a regulator comes knocking

In short, you now know that Stewardship Tuesday does follow Cyber Monday in Canada.

Jonathan D. Cocker heads the Firm’s Environmental Practice Group in Canada and is an active member of firm Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining and Infrastructure groups. Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environment, health and safety matters, including product content, dangerous goods transportation, GHS, regulated wastes, consumer product and food safety, extended producer responsibilities and contaminated lands matters. He appears before both EHS tribunals and civil courts across Canada. Mr. Cocker is a frequent speaker and writer on EHS matters, an active participant on EHS issues in a number of national and international industry associations and the recent author of the first edition of The Environment and Climate Change Law Review (Canada chapter) and the upcoming Encyclopedia of Environmental Law (Chemicals chapter).