After years of stated intentions, product stewardship obligations have finally come to what may be the most environmentally-challenging post-consumer good: end-of-life passenger vehicles (ELVs).

On September 30th, 2016, Ontario enacted O. Reg. 85/16 (the ELV Reg.):

  • requiring all eligible ELV waste disposal sites to register their activities related to the operation of an ELV waste disposal site, as well as activities related to equipment that may discharge contaminants to the air at the ELV waste disposal site;
  • designating ELVs as a waste under Ontario’s General Waste Regulation to the Environmental Protection Act; and
  • mandating that all wastes removed from ELVs must be managed (as of September 2017) in accordance with federal and provincial hazardous materials and hazardous waste standards, including waste diversion requirements, including:
    • batteries
    • battery cable connectors that contain lead
    • electrical switches that contain mercury
    • automotive fluids
    • tires
    • tire weights that contain lead
    • asbestos waste

Manufacturers, Importers Obligated for Regulated ELV Wastes

While vehicles themselves will not likely be included as part of the Independent Producer Responsibility regime to be mandated in the province by the Waste-Free Ontario Act and its IPR auxiliary legislation, the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, the ELV Reg. will serve to make ELV components no longer exempt from regulated waste streams. With IPR, automobile manufacturers, imports and brand owners will have a positive obligation to ensure that these wastes are truly diverted. In fact, the ELV disposals site operators will be mandated under the ELV Reg. to certify the diversion of the regulated wastes, which may well be the beginnings of a broader manufacturer/importer IPR compliance program.

Automobile Design for Recycling Soon To Follow?

The comprehensive set of environmental standards for the disassembly of ELVs, with the competing challenges of waste diversion and management of hazardous wastes, the ELV Reg. may also signal the beginnings of Canada’s move towards design-for-recycling standards that are already under consideration in the European Union and elsewhere.