The new regulation managing hazardous and special products (HSP) in Ontario is coming into force on July 1, 2021. This will have implications for the paint recycling program in the province, which has been a huge success to date collecting more than 53,800 tonnes under Product Care over the past five years, ending 2020. The proposed HSP regulation replaces the current Municipal and Hazardous and Special Waste program and will rely exclusively on “individual producer responsibility” where producers must manage their own obligations or join an industry stewardship program such as Product Care. Working closely with Product Care to review the draft regulations, CPCA identified several issues of concern for the coatings industry and submitted official comments to the Ministry in late March. Updated definitions for paint could mean that more materials might be obligated under the new proposal in future, including industrial paint and coatings. New accessibility requirements could also result in many more new collection sites/events being required at substantial cost to industry, while offering little or no environmental benefit with much lower recovery in the less populated areas of the province. And, it ignores the fact that most consumers use up all the paint product they purchase.
There is no credible evidence that reveals how much ‘waste’ is generated in Ontario related to paint and as such how can a regulation establish a regulation for recovery rates when they do not know how to be accurately calculate them? For example, if consumers use up 100% of the product, as most do in the case of paint, there is very little waste paint left to recover, but a new regulation wants more sites, more events, more costs to recover existing levels. There is no data showing more is in fact more. The reverse is more likely as currently events across Ontario only account for 15% of the total recovery, but they want more. All that only means more costs, not more recovery. No regulation can compel residents to return left over product they intend to use in future and no metric is provided as to how much waste is generated. It’s unclear how a rational eco fee can be established precisely in the regulation and it generally means more costs for Ontario consumers and less or the same recovery for waste in Ontario.
The current collection system for paint has proven immensely effective over the past number of years with 77% of the collection costs actually paid to municipalities for operating sites and events. Luckily, there is no such costs for return-to-retail outlets and that is the system program operators must expand to reduce eco fees for both producers and consumers. The paint industry worked hard to increase those by 50% over the past five years. CPCA’s recommendations to amend the draft HSP regulation for paint will help Ontarians retain a world-class paint recycling program; one that has consistently delivered strong paint waste recovery in Ontario and one which has been a model used by other countries, such as the United States and Australia, to develop their own successful paint recycling models. We remain hopeful that Ontario will live up to commitments made in drafting the current HSP regulation, that is, the new regulation “is expected to moderately reduce costs” in Ontario. Only time will tell.
In January, Health Canada published a final screening assessment report and a risk management approach for Benzophenone. The reports concluded that Benzophenone is toxic for human health based on dermal and inhalation exposure from several sources including interior and exterior consumer paint products. The proposed risk management actions included a measure to reduce the concentration of Benzophenone to a maximum of 0.1% by weight in interior and exterior paint sold in Canada.
CPCA consulted members for feedback and submitted an official letter of response with industry’s formal position at the end of March. Members are generally in agreement with the adoption of a Code of Practice for the substance but suggested a more collaborative approach that would support “informed substitution” and joint work between Health Canada regulators, producers of raw materials (resins) and manufacturers throughout the duration of the Code. CPCA hopes to avoid the challenges encountered with previous Codes where Government erroneously assumed a library of alternatives were available for the substance in question at a moment’s notice. Benzophenone has largely been phased out of formulations but there are still several hundred products implicated on the market. As a result, CPCA cautioned that the typical 5-year duration for a Code of Practice may still be problematic. To reformulate such a large number of products cannot be done without significant investment in R&D and performance testing, which takes several years. Some members are certain that it will take longer than 3 years even if a suitable replacement is identified early enough in the process. This would not auger well for the paint manufacturing industry and the hundreds of SKUs on the market today.
In early February, Health Canada released a public survey seeking feedback on the consumer products exclusion under the Hazardous Products Act (HPA). The issue of removing the exclusion for consumer products under the HPA has been discussed for many years. The issue centers on workers having access to off-the-shelf consumer products and using them in workplaces without the need to follow WHMIS training or understand WHMIS labelling standards, not available on consumer labels.
In early March, CPCA and other industry groups submitted a letter of objection to the survey highlighting biased survey questions without industry being party to discussions on the validity of the survey or the actual questions. CPCA had previously been part of a working group in 2017 to address this issue, which involved collecting data on how consumer product hazard information is currently provided and used in Canadian workplaces. The goal at that time was to determine if any gaps existed for the hazard information that was available to workers with respect to consumer products. The working group was unable to come to an agreement at that time and industry was under the impression that there was not enough quantitative data provided by Government and Labour groups to move this issue forward. As a result, the release of the survey came as a surprise and industry’s objection raised serious concerns with the lack of transparency and proper consultation. Health Canada did not consider industry’s letter of objection, as yet, and appears determined to move forward on examining an HPA amendment that would remove or alter the consumer product exclusion. This cannot be done without full consultation with industry groups who must ensure that any future change is evidenced-based as the current Government has consistently stated is the foundation of its approach to data analysis. If this is not addressed it could be a significant burden for the coatings industry, and many others, as all will have to align with WHMIS requirements for all overlapping consumer-labelled hazardous products used in the workplace. CPCA strongly encouraged all member companies to complete the survey to ensure that the coatings industry recommendations are well represented among the responses on this important issue.
The World Coatings Council (WCC), of which CPCA is a founding member, is currently developing a quantitative reporting module, highlighting the coatings industry’s sustainability initiatives, and to provide a credible platform for all coatings companies to report on sustainability efforts in future. An industry first, the report will identify standardized sustainability metrics and describe how coatings companies’ initiatives align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The focus will be on reinforcing the fact that coatings are inherently environmentally friendly by protecting surfaces from degradation, corrosion, scratches, etc. This extends their lifetime and minimizes the need to use new materials for replacement or repair. It will also develop metrics to elaborate on the role of coatings in protecting critical infrastructure such as utilities, construction, roads, bridges, hospitals and agriculture. The coatings industry’s vital contributions as an “essential industry” during the COVID-19 pandemic will also be highlighted in health care applications such as medical equipment (including ventilators), protective clothing, antiviral and antimicrobial coatings, packaging, and maintenance of critical health infrastructure and utilities. In March, CPCA was directly interviewed by consultants contracted to conduct the project in order to understand the Canadian coatings industry’s specific contributions such as efforts in reducing VOCs in architectural paint and the success of Canada’s paint recycling program. The report will be made available to the WCC in September 2021 and subsequently provided to member companies for their use, if needed.
The ongoing risk assessment of chemicals in commerce continues under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP). CPCA continues to monitor substances implicated in paint, coatings, sealants, and adhesives and update members on regulatory actions via our digital platform, the Canada Coatings HUB, and regular bulletins. Several draft screening assessments were published in March possibly impacting substances used in coatings. Most notably, the Aliphatic Amines group containing 13 substances sub-divided into 4 short-chain amines and 9 long-chain substances was evaluated. The 9 long-chain amines were proposed toxic to the environment while the 4 shorter chain amines did not meet toxicity criteria. Nine of the 13 substances are implicated in the sector including 3 long-chain amines found to be possibly toxic. As such, CPCA will be preparing a submission based on member company feedback with an interest in this substance and will be notified in the coming weeks. The Benzotriazoles and Benzothiazoles were also evaluated with the draft screening assessment proposing all nine Benzotriazoles as non-toxic while six of the Benzothiazoles were found harmful to the environment. However, the risk management scope focuses on mining so is unlikely to affect the coatings sector. There were four other groups for which draft screening assessments were published: Ethers, Piperazine, Hexamethylenetetramines, and the Thiophosphate Alkyl Esters. All four substances in the Ethers group were proposed as non-toxic as was Piperazine at current use-levels. However, Piperazine may be considered in future initiatives if its reported uses increase or change. Two of the three substances in the Hexamethylenetetramines group meet the criteria for human health concerns and will be added to Schedule I of CEPA. The third substance, Methenamine hydrochloride, does not meet the criteria and the RM scope does not focus on uses in coatings but the full approach will be refined later. Finally, the draft assessment for the Thiophosphate Alkyl Esters Group proposes to conclude that TPAE-1 is harmful to the environment while TPAE-2 does not meet toxicity criteria, but follow-up measures are being considered if its use increases. The risk management scope is focused on the metalworking sector. These, and many more, are on CPCA’s radar and should be on the radar of companies in the paint and coatings industry in Canada as it will impact their operations and products in some way going forward.
Peter Mirtchev, Ph.D
Director of Public Affairs, CPCA