Proposal for Ontario Toxics Use Reduction Act

On August 26, 2008, the Canadian Environmental Law Association unveiled a model toxics reduction law, which it called on the Ontario government to adopt to reduce the use of toxic substances in manufacturing, workplaces and consumer products.

The model—Ontario Toxic Use Reduction and Safer Alternatives Act—is patterned on similar legislative approaches undertaken in Massachusetts, New Jersey, California and the European Union.

Along with a model law, the group included a series of suggestions for a new toxic substances use law in its background report, Our Toxic-Free Future: An Action Plan and Model Toxics Use Reduction Law for Ontario. According to the report, model legislation should define toxics use reduction to include changes in production processes for raw materials that reduce, avoid, or eliminate the use of toxic substances or the generation of toxic byproducts per unit of product. The report also recommends that new legislation should include a list of reportable chemicals, including those on the National Pollutant Release Inventory, the 193 high-hazard substances identified under the federal Chemicals Management Plan as well as carcinogens identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, listed by the U.S. National Toxicology Program and listed by California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.

Additionally, the group suggested that Ontario include provisions in its toxic use reduction legislation that allow companies to make valid claims of confidentiality. "However, these provisions should be properly examined, and should not be used to interfere with the intent of the legislation and the public's right to know."

Yet another recommendation is that the program be financed by fees levied on the number of listed toxic chemicals used by a facility, based on a formula developed by the province. This would include the financing of an independent research institute, specializing in toxics use reduction, safe substitution and green chemistry.

View the full text of the Canadian Environmental Law Association report (95 pages).

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