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The federal government has enacted further restrictions in the use of mercury in products in Canada. The Products Containing Mercury Regulations set a November 7th, 2015 deadline for the prohibition on the manufacture or importation of many mercury-containing products.

Many Consumer and Commercial Products Affected

Specifically, the regulations target the following types of products:

  • button cell batteries;
  • fluorescent, vapour and metal halide lamps and lighting devices; dental amalgams;
  • radio frequency switches and relays in control instruments;
  • scientific thermometers and calibration instrumentation;
  • in-vitro diagnostic and medical devices;
  • industrial/commercial film and paper; and
  • certain light detectors and electrodes;

Permit For Continued Use Available

Environment Canada has recognized that alternative, non-mercury containing products may not be available by the prohibition deadline for many manufacturers and importers and has provided for a continued use permit. The permit requires evidence that no alternate product achieving similar results with less environmentally harmful impacts is available in the marketplace. Further, an applicant must develop a plan to minimize or eliminate the mercury’s harmful effect on human health or the environment with safe handling and restrictions upon end-of-life releases into the general waste stream.

Separate Labelling Obligations

In addition to the new permit requirement for continued use, the Regulations also impose new labelling requirements including:

  • identification of the product as containing mercury, as well as the “Hg” symbol;
  • safe handling and emergency measures information; and
  • waste disposal and diversion options such as recycling in each province and territory in which the product is sold.

Broad Supply Chain Reporting and Record Keeping

Finally, the Regulation requires a report to Environment Canada on any manufacturing and importing of mercury-containing products, regardless of whether the products are caught by the new prohibitions or are covered by a use extension permit. In conjunction, there are ongoing record-keeping obligations which also require clear and current knowledge of supply chains for these products. The permit is available for renewal 3-year periods and should be sought in advance of the November deadline to prevent disruptions in manufacturing or importation practices.


Jonathan Cocker heads Baker McKenzie’s Environment & Environmental Markets Practice Group in Toronto, where he also serves as chair of the Pro Bono Committee. He authored the Global Climate Change Law Guide, and has worked with the Management Board Secretariat of the Government of Ontario. Mr. Cocker has represented a wide range of clients before various administrative boards, the Superior Court of Justice and the Federal Court of Canada, among others.

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