On August 27, 2008, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment posted its proposed Toxics Reduction Strategy for comment on the Ministry's Environmental Registry. The Strategy proposes a three-pronged approach consisting of new legislation, building capacity and support for the reduction of toxins, and providing Ontarians with access to information about toxins in Ontario.

Under the proposed legislation, facilities would be required to monitor the use of designated substances. This accounting of materials would then be used to develop a Toxics Reduction Plan to, among other things, identify ways to avoid or reduce the facility’s use of designated substances and propose timelines for implementation. Although the development of Toxics Reduction Plans would be mandatory, implementation of the Plans would be voluntary. In addition, facilities would be subject to reporting obligations related to the use of designated substances and their Toxics Reduction Plan. The Strategy also proposes to require public disclosure, and at a minimum, make summaries of the Toxics Reduction Plans publicly available.

With certain exceptions, the proposed legislation would apply to a broad range of facilities in the manufacturing and mineral sectors that use a designated substance in excess of 10,000 kg annually and employ at least 10 employees.

The Strategy lists approximately 475 designated substances which have been divided into four schedules. Forty-five substances listed under Schedule 1 would be prioritized for immediate action (as early as January 1, 2010) while the regulatory requirements for the 275 substances listed under Schedule 2 would be phased in over time. All of the substances listed under Schedules 1 and 2 are already reportable under the federal National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), except for acetone which has been added to Schedule 2.

Schedule 3 consists of 20 non-NPRI substances which would be subject to new reporting requirements and Schedule 4 includes 135 substances to be examined by the Ministry and which may become subject to the new requirements.

The comment period for the Strategy closed on October 11, 2008. All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the Ministry’s decision-making process.