Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Report of the committee

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources has the honour to present its

NINTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-238, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy for the safe and environmentally sound disposal of lamps containing mercury, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Tuesday, March 28, 2017, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment but with certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

RICHARD NEUFELD

Chair

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Observations to the Ninth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (Bill C-238)

Fluorescent lamps were developed in the 19th century and have been in commercial production since the early 1900s. Compact fluorescent bulbs for residential applications were developed in the 1970s. Both types of lamps remain in wide use.

When used and disposed of in an environmentally responsible way, compact fluorescent and other mercury-containing lamps can be an effective and inexpensive energy-efficient option. However, we have heard that not all such lamps are disposed of or recycled in a safe and appropriate manner, and because each level of government shares responsibility for waste management, currently in Canada there is a piecemeal approach to the disposal of lamps containing mercury. This bill seeks to address this by, among other measures, requiring the federal government to develop a national strategy for the safe and environmentally safe disposal of these lamps.

The federal government has a number of tools it can use to achieve policy objectives, including legislation, regulations, guidelines, and codes of practice. An important addition to these is moral suasion, and the committee believes this is an area where the federal government can and should lead by example. As a large purchaser of goods and services and owner of a considerable real property portfolio, the Government of Canada can demonstrate leadership by recycling all mercury-containing lamps in federal workplaces and Crown-owned buildings when they reach their end of life. A review of the current and recent Federal Sustainable Development Strategies and selected departmental sustainable development strategies and policies reveals no clearly articulated single, comprehensive national strategy or plan to do so. We believe there is a significant opportunity here for the federal government to provide leadership on this issue.