Mistakes of the past often come to light in the future and concerns regarding environmental sustainability are no exception. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) 1999 aims to ensure the health and longevity of the Canadian environment through set guidelines and policies that take the guess-work out of companies maintaining compliance from an environmental stand point.  The ramifications of the violation of CEPA’s regulations became all too true for one company recently. In August of 2018, a company experienced the full effects of not abiding to policies of the Act. After careful investigation of the company and their facilities it was seen that several electrical transformers and capacitors were found to contain higher levels than allowable of PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls). As of Sept 5, 2008 (latest amendment January 2015) CEPA introduced regulations regarding PCBs and more specifically their rapid phase-out from industry with prohibition of manufacturing and required disposal procedures. PCBs were once commonly used as an insulation fluid in electrical equipment including transformers and capacitors with widespread use throughout the 70s.  PCBs are very easily absorbed into organic matter making their associated risks particularly high in any number of food chains across the animal world. As part of the formal reprimand for these violations the company’s director faces a 45-day jail term and a hefty $420,000 fine payable to the Federal Environmental Damages Fund. This strict treatment reflects the high toxicity of PCBs and their dramatic affect on ecosystems, more specifically aquatic life. Although once seemingly an ideal insulative material due to their range of properties and ease of use, PCBs prove no longer ideal with new found knowledge of their risk.  They represent a key example of the mistakes of the past coming back to haunt the manufacturers of today.

An important concern in a variety of industries across all markets globally, environmental sustainability poses a tricky situation when the manufacturing processes of days gone by are evaluated. In previous times, the associated risks of these simple and once seemingly ‘idealic’ processes were relatively unknown, resulting in widescale environmental damage that has carried forward into present day. In the production of not only cosmetics and consumer products but various other industries as well, it is vital that long term effects are taken into consideration from not only a production level but as well as the product and its packaging after the consumer stage. Keeping up to date with current regulations can help companies avoid penalties. As was seen with the case of this violation, repercussions aren’t limited to purely financial but may even extend to more serious punishment such as jail-time. Additionally, with more serious and widely publicized regulation violations this can result in irreparable damages to a company’s reputation. As innovation and the development of industry coalesce it is crucial that environmental sustainability always be in discussion.

The company has been penalized to what appears to be to the fullest extent of the law for their violation, making it a better time than ever to brush up on current regulations released by CEPA. Perhaps this could mark a shift in the severity of punishment for environmental violations. With growing concerns of environmental sustainability, it comes as no surprise that a swing to more strict enforcement as well as more serious penalties may soon become the market standard.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Focal Point Research Inc.  We are leading Canadian regulatory and Health Canada consultants for Natural Health ProductsOTC DrugsCosmetics, and other personal care products.