On June 13th, 2023, the Canadian Senate approved and granted royal assent to the highly anticipated revisions of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). The Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act, also known as Bill S-5, represents the initial significant adjustments to CEPA since 1999.

Background of CEPA

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) is a crucial legislation that aims to protect Canada’s environment and human health. Enacted in 1988, CEPA addresses many environmental issues, from pollution control to the regulation of toxic substances. This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of the key aspects of Canadian CEPA requirements, shedding light on their significance, scope, and implications for various stakeholders.

Objectives and Scope of CEPA

CEPA’s primary objective is to contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention, environmental protection, and promoting sustainable development. The act covers a range of environmental conservation efforts, such as maintaining air and water quality, managing toxic substances and waste, and protecting wildlife and ecosystems.

Key Provisions of CEPA

  • a. Environmental Assessment: CEPA requires the assessment of potential environmental impacts before the commencement of specific projects, ensuring that development activities adhere to stringent environmental standards.
  • b. Toxic Substances Management: The act provides a regulatory framework for managing new and existing toxic substances to minimize their adverse effects on human health and the environment.
  • c. Regulation of New Substances: Information on new substances must be submitted before their introduction into commerce to assess the potential risks involved.
  • d. Pollution Prevention: CEPA emphasizes pollution prevention over end-of-pipe control measures, encouraging businesses to adopt cleaner technologies and practices.
  • e. Wildlife Protection: The Act includes provisions for protecting wildlife and their habitats, aiming to conserve biodiversity and preserve ecosystems.
  • f. Enforcement and Compliance: CEPA grants enforcement officers the power to ensure compliance with its provisions and holds individuals and businesses accountable for non-compliance.

What are Toxic and Priority Substances?

The Government of Canada employs various measures, including regulations, to safeguard the environment and human health. It also implements precise schedules for managing substances identified as toxic according to the act’s provisions. Substances classified as “toxic” under CEPA are advised for inclusion in the roster of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1) within the act.
Evaluations for the initial 44 substances listed as First Priority Lists (PSL1) had been finalized by 1994. Following guidance from a diverse expert advisory panel, 25 more substances were appended to the Second Priority Lists (PSL2) inventory by 1995.

CEPA: Banned Substances under Schedule 1

The specific list of banned substances can change as new assessments are conducted and regulations are updated. CEPA is advised for inclusion in the roster of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1) within the act. Some substances that were banned or regulated under CEPA include:

  • 1. Asbestos: CEPA includes regulations to control the use, import, and export of asbestos and products containing asbestos due to its known harmful health effects.
  • 2. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): PCBs, which are hazardous industrial chemicals, are commonly utilized in electrical appliances and various other applications. Due to environmental persistence and harmful health effects, CEPA restricts PCBs’ use, import, and export.
  • 3. Certain Pesticides: CEPA enables the government to regulate pesticides that threaten human health or the environment. Certain pesticides have been prohibited or have limitations on their usage under CEPA.
  • 4. Certain Flame Retardant: Flame retardant chemicals harmful to human health and the environment have been regulated and restricted under CEPA.
  • 5. Certain Chemicals in Consumer Products: CEPA provides the authority to regulate chemicals used in consumer products, such as children’s toys, cosmetics, and household goods, to ensure they are safe for use.
  • 6. Certain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs): CEPA provides the authority to regulate chemicals used in consumer products, such as children’s toys, cosmetics, and household goods, to ensure they are safe for use.

Compliance and Reporting

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) publishes guidelines that businesses must follow to comply with CEPA. These guidelines detail reporting procedures, specific requirements, and standards that organizations must adhere to. ECCC inspects and monitors businesses to ensure that they keep track of chemical substances, their quantities, and potential hazards. Reporting obligations are crucial as they provide the Canadian government with the necessary data to effectively assess and manage environmental risks.

CEPA’s Impact on Businesses

Businesses operating in Canada, particularly those dealing with chemicals, hazardous materials, and potentially harmful substances, are significantly affected by the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Companies that prioritize environmental responsibility and strongly adhere to CEPA compliance earn a positive reputation among consumers, investors, regulators, and the public while also enjoying wider market access. On the other hand, non-compliance can negatively impact a company’s image and brand value and may even result in legal consequences.

However, complying with CEPA regulations may involve extensive documentation, reporting, and environmental monitoring to ensure their operations align with the Act’s provisions.

International Trade and CEPA

CEPA also plays a role in Canada’s international trade relations. The Act allows the Canadian government to restrict the import and export of certain substances to ensure alignment with international agreements and protect the global environment.

Amendments and Evolving Regulations

Over the years, CEPA has undergone amendments to address emerging environmental challenges and align with international best practices. Staying informed about these changes is essential for businesses and individuals to remain compliant with the latest requirements.

In conclusion, The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) is vital to Canada’s efforts to conserve the environment. It addresses pollution, toxic substances, and wildlife protection, crucial in safeguarding human health and the environment. Compliance with CEPA regulations is essential for businesses to avoid penalties and contribute to a sustainable future. Keeping in line with CEPA’s amendments and requirements is important as the environmental landscape continues to evolve, as it helps to align with the country’s commitment to environmental protection.

How does APA fit into this picture?

APA Engineering helps our clients understand and comply with the CEPA rules in Canada. We provide various services, such as educating clients on what the regulations mean, helping them prepare their reports in compliance with the regulations, and providing guidance to ensure that all reports adhere to the requirements.

Reach out to our regulation experts on chemical and product regulatory compliances