One of the key requirements of Canadian Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations is for Stewardship Programs to provide for reasonable and free consumer access to collection facilities or collection services.
The CBA’s Accessibility Framework describe in this document applies for lead batteries that are purchased by the public at a retail store. Commercial and industrial batteries are 15% of the overall market for lead batteries and are managed through a similar recycling system; however, there is more responsibility on a commercial business or institution to partner with their lead battery distributor to manage lead batteries at end of life with similar collection outcomes.
Lead batteries are a common retail consumer product, and the average community will generate about 5kg/person/year. However, because lead is toxic and a bio-cumulative neurotoxin there is a desire to provide consumers with a high level of access to prevent lead from entering landfills or the environment.
Determining reasonable accessibility for a public service is not just a challenge for the CBA and other Stewardship Programs in Canada. Public service agencies such as hospitals, law enforcement and other government agencies grapple with the reality of Canada’s geographic size and population distribution when providing adequate services in a cost-effective manner.
The purpose of this document is to establish a policy framework for the Canadian Battery Association (CBA) to help determine “reasonable levels” of accessibility for lead batteries in Canada and then measure accessibility on a Province-by-Province basis using the policy framework to improve accessibility for communities that fall below their Accessibility Target.
To guide the development of the CBA’s Public Accessibility Framework, the CBA developed the following principles that were used to help formulate and quantify “reasonable accessibility.”
Principle #1: Consumer’s Property Rights and Obligations:
Consumers that purchase lead batteries have property rights as well as property obligations. One obligation is the consumer’s responsibility to properly dispose of the lead battery. Failure of a consumer to exercise proper disposal of a lead battery is littering and the lead battery would remain the property of the consumer until such time that they dispose of the battery properly as required by law.
Principle #2: Canada’s Environmental Laws:
Each Province has it own environmental Act and each Act has three important elements that relate to the stewardship of lead batteries. Provincial legislation:
- requires the person in control of the product to dispose of the product in an appropriate location – see Principle #1.
- assigns the management of municipal solid waste) to Local Governments and
- defines municipal solid waste broadly to include all “wastes” including end-of-life stewarded products.
In addition, most Provinces and Territories will have Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations that requires Producers to carry out a variety of requirements including the requirement for “reasonable and free consumer access to collection facilities or collection services”,
Neither the Act nor the EPR regulations transfer the management responsibility for Stewarded Products from Local Government to Producers. Instead, the EPR regulations extend the management responsibilities for end-of-life Stewarded Products to Producers – hence the use of the term Extended Producer Responsibility Regulation.
Principle #3: The Service Density Reality:
Communities that have a high population density have high levels of access to recycling amenities and transportation infrastructure. In contrast, small rural communities are less likely to be near recycling amenities or transportation infrastructure. As a result:
- consumers in small rural communities will have reduced accessibility to recycling amenities
- the cost of delivering services to small rural communities is higher on a per capita basis and
- consumers in the more populated area subsidize the cost of recycling amenities in the small rural communities.
Principle #4: Product Characteristics:
Every product category is different and as such “reasonable accessibility” will vary from product category to product category depending on the characteristics of the products including frequency of use, durability, and hazardousness.
For lead batteries, commercial and industrial (IC&I) applications are different than lead batteries used by the public and for that reason they have a similar collection system but would not use the collection system used for the public.
Because lead batteries are a common product in a community and they contain lead that is toxic bio-cumulative neurotoxin, they inherently require higher levels of accessibility.
Principle #5: Canada’s Geography and Population Distribution:
Of the 38M residents in Canada, between 10 to 15% of the population live outside population centres and do not have ready access to retail or recycling amenities.
From a Geographical perspective is it reasonable to expect a higher degree of access to recycling amenities in proportion to the ability to purchase the product.
The challenge for the CBA is to develop accessibility options for these rural and remote areas in partnership with the local governments and First Nations.
Based on the above principles, the roles and responsibilities for the end-of-life management of lead batteries is shared across various responsible parties through a product’s life cycle as indicated by the matrix below.
Roles & Responsibilities of Stewarded Products
Manufacture or import designated product
Fund and participate in a Stewardship Program to manage the end-of-life management of the designated product
Stop importing designated products through product redesign or cessation of product production
Point of Purchase
Purchase, use and store products properly and then dispose of products at an approved designated recycling location
Return end-of-life product to designated recycling location
Any Stewarded Program’s products brought to a designated recycling location
Have an approved plan (on behalf of producers) and comply with the plan
Meet the applicable outcomes outlined in regulation or stewardship plan.
Sale of commodities or proper management of residuals derived from the recycling of the product
Based on the above roles and responsibilities, the consumer that wants to dispose of a lead battery decides when the product is at “End-of-Life” and has an obligation to properly dispose of the product by taking the lead battery to a designated recycling location in the community.
In contrast, the responsibilities of a resident for their municipal solid waste are the same as the consumer – the resident needs to drop off their waste at a designated location and for Local Governments to provide reasonable access for residents to dispose of municipal solid waste.
Municipal Solid Waste Generated by Residents
Point of Purchase of stewarded and non-stewarded products or Point of Generation (e.g., land clearing, demolition, etc.).
Take municipal solid waste to the designated collection point and pay property taxes or utility/tipping fees to Local Government for the management of Municipal Solid Waste.
At a designated collection point (curbside collection, recycler, Transfer Station, Landfill etc.).
Point of collection of municipal solid waste (curb, Transfer Station, Landfill).
Manage municipal solid waste as per their approved Solid Waste Management Plan.
Sale of recycled products or legal disposal of municipal solid waste.
Because the retail consumer and the resident are the same person, this comparison means that the Canadian Battery Association and Local Governments have a common “customer” and need to work together to provide programs for residents and consumers that:
- Promotes diversion of lead batteries from landfills through education and awareness.
- Establishes convenient collection service for lead batteries and municipal solid waste; and,
- delivers reasonable accessibility in smaller and remote communities.
To quantify reasonableness, the CBA Accessibility Framework needs to set Accessibility Targets for lead batteries for communities of different size and proximity to recycling infrastructure.
The key factors that can affect a program’s Accessibility Targets are the:
- classification of Communities based on the proximity to recycling amenities
- the types of service providers that can collect, store and transport lead batteries
- program’s maturity (e.g., new program vs mature program)
The CBA’s Accessibility Targets are a proxy for “reasonable accessibility” for that community. Communities that are within their Accessibility Target will be deemed to have “reasonable accessibility” and the CBA’s program for a Province or Territory will be evaluated on the collection service provided to the Percent of Population Served to the Accessibility Targets.
The CBA’s Accessibility Framework does not apply to lead-acid batteries that are used for commercial purposes or located in Remote Locations. The framework only applies to residents and retail consumers that need to dispose of lead batteries in defined communities. Contact the CBA for more information about the CBA’s programs for remote locations.
Communities of different population densities will have different “proximity” to recycling amenities and consequently will have different Accessibility Targets.
To guide the classification of communities, Statistics Canada developed a program to measure the proximity of services to residents. At the conclusion of their research, Statistics Canada classified communities into three categories based on their proximity to service amenities – in the case of lead batteries, the service amenity is a designated return collection facility (RCF) for the consumer.
“Amenity dense” communities have significant amenities available to the residents and consumers. For lead batteries, an “amenity dense” community is defined as having a return-to-retail option for the consumer.
“Amenity sparse” communities will have some recycling amenities usually peripheral to the community. For lead batteries, an “amenity sparse” community is defined as not have a retailer but would have a metal recycler or local government transfer station or landfill peripheral to the community.
“Amenity scarce” communities have no recycling amenities. For lead batteries, these communities are defined by their lack of proximity to retailers, metal recyclers or local government services and consumers are required to travel to a different community with a designated recycling location.
Remote communities are a special type of Amenity Scarce community where special collection and transportation arrangements need to be developed for lead batteries.
The collection services for lead batteries will be conducted primarily by retailers of lead batteries using a return-to-retail model and reverse-distribution collection network used by the distributors of lead batteries.
Distributors drop off new lead batteries at their retail customers and pick up the unwanted lead batteries for repair or recycling as part of the reverse distribution. For a summary of retailers that accept lead batteries from the public, go to www.recyclemybattery.ca .
The CBA has established an Amenity Hierarchy for Amenity Dense and Amenity Sparce communities – see table below. The first Amenity priority for lead batteries is a return-to-retail location because it provides the greatest accessibility to the consumer, and the reverse distribution network between retailers and distributors is the most cost-effective method of collecting lead batteries.
Where a return-to-retail option is not available in a community, the next two priorities are the private automotive and metal recyclers and local government eco-depots at landfills and transfer stations. Collection services provided by recyclers and local governments require more property and zoning bylaws will place their locations on the outskirts of a community. Hence these service providers by their nature will have greater travel times and will provide less accessibility to consumers.
In Canada, the retailers recover about 70% of all consumer lead batteries in Canada. Private recyclers and local governments account for the remaining 30% of consumer lead batteries.
For remote communities without any recycling infrastructure, some sort of collection and storage infrastructure will need to be established and the transportation logistics will need to be coordinated with the Canadian Battery Association. For more information on how to recover lead batteries from remote communities, go to the CBA’s publication Management of Lead Batteries in Rural and Remote Communities.
4.3 Program Maturity
While the collection of lead batteries goes on in every Province and Territory, it takes time to identify the challenges, transportation routes, and deficits in recycling amenities when formal EPR programs are established in a new jurisdiction.
Because the basis of regulatory evaluation is on a program’s Collection Rate, the initial Accessibility priorities are on Amenity Dense and Amenity Sparce communities followed in time by Amenity Scarce and Remote Communities.
British Columbia and Manitoba have the most mature of the lead battery stewardship programs in Canada and serves as a testing ground for the Accessibility Policy and the program for remote communities.
5. Setting Travel Metrics & Public Accessibility Targets
The quantification of “Reasonable Accessibility” for the public in communities of different sizes requires the development of Travel Metrics for a product. The travel metrics that form the basis of “reasonable accessibility” for lead batteries are:
- the “amenity” classification of the community
- travel distance – measured in km using the mapping function on www.recyclemybattery.ca
- the Accessibility Targets to the nearest km
Accessibility Target (km)
Will vary depending on Jurisdiction’s Population Distribution. Jurisdictions with a high rural population will have a higher Amenity Dense threshold. Typically less than 5km
Will vary depending on Jurisdiction’s Population Distribution. Jurisdictions with a high rural population will have a higher Amenity Sparse threshold. Typically less than 10km
Will vary depending on Jurisdiction’s Population Distribution. Jurisdictions with a high agricultural population will have a higher Amenity Scarce threshold. Typically less than 50km
Best Efforts in partnership with the communities
Setting the Accessibility Target for communities of different Amenity Classifications was completed by sorting the data base in Appendix 1 into the three amenity classifications. Then the average distance and standard deviation was calculated for each of the three classifications. The Accessibility Target for a community classification was set at 2 standard deviations of the average using the formula:
Accessibility Target = (Community Classification Average km) + (1 * Standard Deviation)*
* The Accessibility Target is then rounded up to the nearest whole number
6. Measuring Percentage of Population Served
Once a program’s Travel Metrics and Accessibility Targets have been established, the CBA calculates the percentage of population served using Google Maps using the distance calculator at www.recyclemybattery.ca.
The benefit of using Google Maps is it easy to calculate distance within a community and the metrics for unincorporated communities or individual homes can be measured using postal codes.
The accessibility results for each Province are summarized in the CBA’s Annual Reports. An example of the 2021 Accessibility statistics for British Columbia is listed below. The purpose of summarizing the data is to identify those communities that do not meet the Accessibility Target based on the Community Classification.
The table below summarizes the 2021 Accessibility Statistics for British Columbia.
In the above example, 100% of the Population is Served in the Amenity Dense and Amenity Sparse communities and there is 1 Amenity Scarce community that could use improved accessibility. In total, 99.99% of British Columbians living in a community meet the Accessibility Targets for lead batteries.
The CBA’s accessibility data base for each Province and Territory is summarized in the Implementation Section.
The CBA’s Accessibility Framework recognizes that each remote community requires an individual program because of the lack of recycling infrastructure and the transportation challenges inherent in being a remote community.
While the volumes of lead batteries in Remote Communities is very small, the Canadian Battery Association is committed to working with the communities and their governments to provide a “reasonable level of service” based on their location and the transportation challenges.
Because of the individual challenges with each remote community, no Accessibility Targets are set, and the objective is to provide service based on Best Efforts for each community.
The CBA’s program for remote First Nation communities in Manitoba serves as a model of how lead batteries and other stewarded products can be recovered from Remote Communities on a “Best Efforts” basis.
The CBA has summarized its approach in a separate document entitled The Management of Lead Batteries in Rural and Remote Communities and is available upon request.