The imposition of new restrictions upon chemical substance cyclohexanedicarboxylic acid, 1-butyl 2-(phenylmethyl) ester, could hardly have been newsworthy in Canadian environmental circles during the era of mega-infrastructure and carbon pricing.

The plasticizer is used in sealants, coated textiles, and flexible tubing, with any direct exposure expected to be mainly by skin contact or perhaps inhalation at low levels. Environment Canada, in fact, estimates that “indirect exposure of the general population from environmental media is expected to be low and mainly by ingestion of drinking water, inhalation following degassing of the substance from end-use products and via ingestion of dust containing the substance that has migrated out of end-use products and into the surrounding environment.” In short, a substance which would have garnered much regulatory restriction even a few years ago.

What is notable is the myriad tools Environment Canada is now employing to control the entire lifecycle of substances like this plasticizer:

Pre-notifications: the substance must be notified under the New Substances Notification Regulations (Chemicals and Polymers), which, if to be manufactured in Canada, will required detailed information on the manufacturing processes such as:

  • a flow diagram of the manufacturing process that includes features such as process tanks, holding tanks and distillation towers;
  • a description of the manufacturing process that details the reactants used, reaction stoichiometry, batch or continuous nature of the process, and the scale of the process; and
  • a description of the major steps in manufacturing operations, the chemical conversions, the points of entry of all reactants, the points of release of the substance, and the procedures for cleaning equipment, including the frequency.

Restrictions Upon Use: limits on the types of products may include the plasticizer with a (near) certification requirement for any recipient of any substance to abide by such restrictions.

Disposal Rules: any waste generated from the use of the substance may only be destroyed or disposed of by deep well injection, incineration or landfill- based upon permissions and the notifying party (and transferee) is responsible

Environmental Release: any release of the substance or its waste triggers an automatic reporting obligation to Environment Canada, along with release control and anti-dispersal measures

Lifecycle Recordkeeping: the uses (and quantities for each), transfers and resulting usage by those transferees, disposal records of the substance and its waste of both the notifier and the transferee.

Written Confirmation of these Conditions: written certification of their receipt of these Environment Canada conditions must be obtained by any transferees before they take possession of the substance.

In short, the lowly plasticizer has at least one follower – Environment Canada, and importers and manufacturers of regulated substances should be aware of this growing trend of lifecycle substance regulation.