Electrical and electronic waste, or e-waste, is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. E-waste contains substances of concern, such as mercury, lead, and brominated flame retardants that can adversely affect the environment and human health.
As a result, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has published proposed amendments to Canada’s Cross-Border Movement of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations. The current Regulations only apply to a subset of hazardous e-waste. The proposed amendments would control transboundary movements (import, export, and transit) of all e-waste to all countries in order to align Canadian rules with recent amendments to the Basel Convention, an international agreement operating under the United Nations Environment Programme.
“Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials are harmful to the global environment and to human health,” said Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Canada is taking action to make sure that these materials, including e‑waste, are not sent to countries that do not want them, or that do not have the necessary infrastructure to deal with them in an environmentally sound manner.”
The proposed amendments would align with the Basel Ban requirement to prohibit most exports of hazardous wastes from member states of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, such as Canada and the European Union, to developing countries. These changes would place Canada in a position to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention.
The proposed amendments would also apply the Prior Informed Consent Procedure to all e‑waste shipments, as well as clarify certain implementation requirements of the Regulations.
Controlling e-waste through the Prior Informed Consent Procedure, which requires that exporting countries seek the consent of transit and importing countries before exporting controlled wastes, is important, as e-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world and contains substances of concern, such as mercury, lead, and brominated flame retardants.
The Basel Convention is a multilateral environmental agreement with the goal of protecting human health and the environment from the dangers posed by transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material.
In June 2022, the Basel Convention was amended to include the control of non-hazardous electrical and electronic waste (e-waste). The proposed regulatory changes published today will ensure that Canadian rules align with the obligations in the Convention as the current Regulations do not cover all e-waste.
Stakeholders, interested parties, and Canadians are invited to review the proposed amendments and provide feedback before November 29, 2023. The Government plans to publish the final amendments in summer 2024.