As of January 1, 2013, producers of pharmaceuticals, including natural heath products (NHPs), are now required to provide for the collection and disposal of expired or unused pharmaceutical products in Ontario. This requirement is established Ontario Regulation 298/12, entitled Collection of Pharmaceuticals and Sharps – Responsibilities of Producers (the “Regulation”), made under the Environmental Protection Act. The Regulation aims to divert pharmaceutical products from landfills and sewers where they can have a harmful impact on the environment.

The Regulation applies to prescription drugs, over the counter drugs (OTCs) and NHPs sold to consumers in Ontario, though there are some exceptions identified with the end result that generally only oral dosage forms of OTCs and NHPs are covered. Producers should verify if their individual products are covered by one of the exemptions. The producer responsible under the Regulations may be the manufacturer, brand owner, importer or first seller depending on the business structure.

The Health Products Stewardship Association (HPSA) (formerly known as the Post-Consumer Pharmaceutical Stewardship Association) has a provincially approved plan in place to meet the producer requirements of the Regulation. Producers can comply with their obligations simply by becoming a member of the HPSA in Ontario. Similar regulations and HPSA programs are already in place in British Columbia and Manitoba, with other provinces likely to follow suit in the future.