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7th Annual Report - 2001-2002

Canadian Public

Progress with the Canadian Public

Federal pollution prevention strategy goal: Provide access to the information and tools necessary to implement pollution prevention practices.

Citizen-Driven Activities

The EcoAction Community Funding Program is an Environment Canada program providing financial support to community groups for projects that will achieve results in the following areas: Clean Air and Climate Change, Clean Water, and Nature. Some examples of 2001-2002 projects that received EcoAction funding are provided below:

  • TRAX is an ongoing project of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax. As an alternative to road expansion in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), TRAX is intended to reduce single-occupancy vehicle use and promote the increase of investments in sustainable transportation alternatives. To date, it has initiated a trip reduction program in six workplaces in HRM, with seven others considering participation. Other activities included a Bike to Work Week, a Commuter Challenge, and a public forum on a bike policy for HRM. TRAX efforts will contribute significantly to the local government's commitment to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, has initiated an environmental review of its parish buildings. The Enviro Church Program is expected to reduce energy use, water consumption, and wastewater production by 10% and hazardous household and chemical lawn products use by 20%. Also, educational materials will be supplied to parishioners to increase their awareness of the initiatives undertaken by their local church and to encourage similar efficiency in their own homes.

  • Atlantic Coastal Action Plan (ACAP) Cape Breton implemented a project to improve the environmental performance of operations at the Nova Scotia Community College's campus in Sydney. With help from the students' association, ACAP drafted a green purchasing policy for the college, conducted a water audit and chemical use survey, and made recommendations for chemical use reduction. In addition, there are plans to collect and recycle a number of hazardous and solid waste streams, conserve 1500 cubic metres of water, reduce chemical waste by 70 litres, make recommendations for energy efficiency, and publish a blueprint manual for greening the Nova Scotia Community College's other facilities.

  • Approximately 66 000 homes in Newfoundland and Labrador heat with oil. Aging oil tanks are a problem: some oil spills cause environmental damage and result in expensive remediation. The Conservation Corps of Newfoundland & Labrador initiated a Home Oil Check program to address leak prevention and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over 300 homes will receive a Home Oil Check assessment, including a report and information on heating with oil, oil tank regulations and inspection, and spills. Also, homeowners receive an "EnerGuide for Houses," a tool to promote action and to demonstrate energy (and financial) savings from recommended upgrades. To date, 52 homes from over 60 communities have received an assessment. Previous energy efficiency assessments indicated potential reductions of an average of 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per home per year.

  • The Nova Scotia residential sector is responsible for 26% of provincial greenhouse gas emissions. In the Halifax Regional Municipality, Clean Nova Scotia initiated a project to conduct 400 home visits, including an energy assessment, water conservation measures, and climate change education. Participating homes receive a water conservation kit and information material for each component of the Green Home visit. The project should lead to an overall 5% reduction in energy and greenhouse gas production and up to an 8% decrease in water consumption.

  • There is growing public concern about the public health and environmental effects of pesticide use. In 1997, pesticide sales in Canada totalled over $1.4 billion, 85% of which was for herbicides intended for use in lawns and gardens.3 The New Brunswick Lung Association addressed this issue by launching the Healthy Lawn Program. Ten individuals were trained in hosting home get-togethers to discuss pesticide-free, healthy lawn maintenance in a friendly setting. Eighteen events were held, with more planned as the program expands to the rest of New Brunswick. Results to date indicate that over 70% of the participants committed not to use pesticides on their lawns for cosmetic purposes.

Photo: TRAX sign

As an alternative to road expansion in the Halifax Regional Municipality, TRAX aims to reduce single-occupancy vehicle use and promote the increase of investments in sustainable transportation alternatives.

What is Sustainable Consumption?

Sustainable consumption has been defined as the "use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life, while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations."4

Environment Canada hosted the second meeting of the North American Sustainable Consumption Alliance Workgroup. The North American Sustainable Consumption Alliance is a strategic partnership of people and organizations that are working to promote more sustainable consumption patterns in Mexico, Canada, and the United States. One of the Alliance's goals is to facilitate the shaping of a common North American vision of sustainable consumption. Discussions are also under way to organize a third meeting in Mexico.

In response to the need for information on the environmental practices, behaviours, and concerns of Canadian individuals and households, Statistics Canada is planning to conduct the Household and Environment Survey in 2003. Statistics Canada has developed a framework based on sustainable consumption, examining Canadians' understanding and perceptions of environmental issues, role of individual consumptive behaviours and public participation in environmental activities, and, finally, actual environmental practices. The themes that will be covered by the survey include water consumption and conservation, waste management and recycling, transportation decisions, use of pesticides and fertilizers, purchase of "green" products, knowledge and understanding of environmental issues, and civic engagement. A more limited version of this survey was conducted in 1991 and 1994, and the results were published in the Statistics Canada report, "Households and the Environment" (Catalogue No. 11-526).

Public Awareness Campaigns

Photo: Thermometer

London, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay residents were able to return unbroken thermometers from February 15 to March 15, 2002 as part of a Mercury Fever Thermometer Take Back pilot project.

Pharmacists are working with Environment Canada to reduce mercury levels in the environment by safely collecting and disposing of unbroken mercury fever thermometers as part of a Mercury Fever Thermometer Take Back pilot project. London, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay residents were able to return unbroken mercury fever thermometers to participating retailers from February 15 to March 15, 2002. Over 100 pharmacies participated in the program, and 1400 thermometers were collected in total. The pilot project provided individuals with a safe disposal method for mercury fever thermometers and eliminated the risk of releasing mercury into the environment. The lessons learned will help determine the feasibility of initiating a national program.

Environment Canada is providing financial support and technical advice to the Riversafe Car Wash Campaign. The campaign's purpose is to educate residents and community groups about the impact of unregulated non-point discharges from home and volunteer fundraising events at carwashes/gas stations. In addition, Environment Canada is financially supporting the formation of a multi-stakeholder task force to examine the establishment of a carwash industry self-certification initiative.

The Environmental Damages Fund (EDF), administered by Environment Canada, is a repository for fines levied against those convicted of causing environmental damage. Through a partnership with the Atlantic EDF managers, a higher priority is placed on EDF fund proposals for projects that use pollution prevention approaches and practices where appropriate.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency funded a series of short television vignettes profiling young entrepreneurs. The profiles introduce young people to the world of business by providing role models and offer practical steps to help them establish a viable business. One aspect they address is the issue of sustainable development and pollution prevention when running a business. The profiles aired on the CBC TV series "Street Cents" and on French CBC television.

As part of its Community Animation Project (CAP) Program, Health Canada's Ontario Region is working with the Nunavut government and non-governmental organizations to strengthen local health/environment networks, committees, groups, and projects. Networking links were increased between 65 health/environment groups and sectors. Results include support for healthy public policy on pesticide reduction workshops and education campaigns; and fundraising and intersectoral collaboration in support of well water protection workshops.

Access to Information

TerraChoice Environmental Services Inc., on behalf of Environment Canada, manages and delivers the Environmental ChoiceeM Program (ECP). The ECP is an eco-labelling program that helps individuals, corporations, and governments make informed purchasing decisions to reduce their environmental impacts. Over 3000 brand name products in approximately 136 product categories now bear ECP's EcoLogo, including products such as tires, cleaners, office equipment, electricity, and paints.


Natural Resources Canada's Auto$mart information program promotes awareness among Canadian motorists of how important vehicle fuel efficiency, maintenance, and proper driving are in reducing emissions and benefiting the environment, as well as saving money. This year, the program provided information to 30 124 more new drivers through its Auto$mart driver kits and other information sources.

The fifth annual Canadian Pollution Prevention Roundtable was held in St. John's, Newfoundland, in June 2001. The Roundtable is a recognized opportunity to strengthen partnerships and advance pollution prevention. Sessions included Corporate Sustainability, Health and Community Healthcare, Measuring and Reporting P2 Progress, North American Sustainable Consumption Network, Integrating P2 into Existing Management Systems, and the launch of a municipal pollution prevention workgroup. Over 100 participants representing business, consultants, universities, governments, labour, youth, and non-governmental organizations discussed pollution prevention issues and celebrated Canadian achievements. With funding support from Environment Canada, the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention, a non-profit organization, coordinates the Roundtable.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Environmental Registry

The CEPA Environmental Registry is a comprehensive source of public information relating to activities under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). In addition to providing up-to-date copies of current CEPA instruments, the primary objective of the Environmental Registry is to encourage and support public participation in environmental decisionmaking, by facilitating access to documents arising from the administration of the Act.

The Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse is an Internet tool that links Canadians to information on pollution prevention (P2). It explains P2, explores the benefits, and provides examples of common practices. This online database provides access to over 1300 P2 reference materials. The references cover more than 30 industrial sectors and service industries and contain information on community projects and how to incorporate P2 into daily life. The Canadian Pollution Prevention Success Stories website is a place to see examples of P2 in action. Providing incentive for Canadians to adopt similar practices, the success stories website currently recognizes 85 Canadian organizations, companies, and individuals who are making a difference in P2. Environment Canada is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of these two sites, as well as the inclusion of additional information.

In 2001, the Government of Canada introduced the Energy StarTM symbol as a way consumers could quickly identify the most energy efficient products in their class. The Energy Star symbol is backed up by technical specifications that identifies how a product qualifies for the energy efficiency mark and what efficiency level must be attained. The Energy Star high-efficiency specifications are administered by Natural Resources Canada's Equipment Program. NRCan endorses specifications for selected major electrical household appliances, heating and cooling products, office equipment, consumer electronics, some lighting and signage products, as well as selected commercial and industrial products. NRCan's Equipment Program also administers the Regulations under Canada's Energy Efficiency Act. The Regulations, originally introduced in 1995, identify minimum energy performance levels and test standards for over 32 energy-using consumer products in all market sectors. They are continually being updated to take into account changes in technology and in standards. For example, an amendment to the Regulations was passed in 2001 to introduce new energy efficiency levels and updated test standards for refrigerators, refrigerator freezers, and freezers. Subsequent amendments to the Regulations include upgrading the standard for room air conditioners, lighting ballasts, distribution transformers, and other residential and commercial space conditioning equipment.

Energy Star

The EnerGuide for Houses Program encourages Canadians to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Of the homeowners receiving the evaluation, 63% respond with some amount of work, including caulking/draft sealing, 49%; insulation, 42%; door and window replacement, 37%; and heating system replacement, 19%. By year-end 2001, average energy consumption of homes that undertook retrofits had improved by 17.6%. Greenhouse gas reduction since the program began is estimated at 30.8 kilotonnes. Natural Resources Canada provides national coordination, technical support, software tools, and training for the program.

Addressing Climate Change

The Government of Canada Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change is a five-year program that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 megatonnes per year in key sectors of the economy. In November 2001, the Government of Canada announced details of 28 specific climate change initiatives to cut Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by more than 23.7 megatonnes by 2010. These practical, concrete measures, when fully implemented, are expected to take Canada about one-third of the way (or 65 megatonnes closer) to the targets agreed to during the 1997 Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

Engaging Youth

Started in 1997, the Youth Round Table on the Environment (YRTE) is an active, non-partisan forum of up to 18 youths that brings together young Canadians of diverse regional, cultural, educational, and linguistic backgrounds. During a one-year term, the group meets up to three times a year to provide input on Environment Canada's programs and policies and to advise on ways to make these programs more accessible to youth. In 2001-2002, the YRTE addressed themes including Environment and Health, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Technology and the Environment, Conservation and Stewardship, Climate Change and Kyoto, and Water and Environmental Education.

Photo: The Youth Round Table on the Environment

The Youth Round Table on the Environment is an active, nonpartisan forum that brings together young Canadians of diverse regional, cultural, educational, and linguistic backgrounds to provide input on Environment Canada's programs and policies.

Environment Canada-Atlantic Region provided financial and technical support to the four Atlantic provincial organizing committees of the 2001 Canon Envirothonô. The Envirothonô is North America's largest high school-level science fair. The 2001 event theme was non-point source pollution. Competing student teams received a one-hour briefing on topics such as non-point source pollution and pollution prevention alternatives.

Every four years, Scouts Canada organizes a 10-day Jamboree providing 12 000 youth aged 11 to 17, and staff from across Canada and beyond, with the experience of outdoor activities. The 2001 Canada Jamboree (CJ'01) was held at Cabot Provincial Park, Prince Edward Island. Environment Canada provided a range of environmental elements to the CJ'01 program. Pollution prevention principles and practices, such as Leave No Trace, were taught and used throughout the Jamboree, from site water treatment to beach hiking. Scouts learned, from role playing, the consequences of groundwater contamination and the means to prevent it.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency funded a study of entrepreneurship among young Atlantic Canadians aged 15 to 29. The study sought opinions of young entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs throughout Atlantic Canada on a wide variety of business-related issues and included questions on the environment and sustainable development. Ninety-three per cent of entrepreneurs believe it is possible to operate a business without harming the environment.

The Computers for Schools program collects, repairs, and refurbishes donated surplus computers from government and private sector sources and distributes them free to schools. The program, managed by Industry Canada, has a total of 69 centres throughout Canada, where computers are cleaned, refurbished, and prepared for delivery, or recycled if unusable. In 2001-2002, over 73 000 refurbished computers were made available for reuse, with 360 000 reused since 1993. In addition, the program has diverted, through recycling, over 22 million kilograms of used equipment not suitable for donation through recycling.

Pollution Prevention Opportunity Fact Sheets

Environment Canada created a series of fact sheets entitled P2 & You for households. The fact sheets feature useful tips on how to implement pollution prevention around the home, at work, at school, while driving, and while shopping. Below is a sample checklist of what households can do that will save energy and water and reduce the amount of waste created, while at the same time saving money.

Save energy

  • Turn the temperature on your water heater down. Most homes do not need extremely hot water.
  • Use the energy saver option or shortest cycle necessary on appliances.

Reduce waste

  • Create and maintain your own compost pile, if feasible. This will produce your own fertilizer and reduce the amount of garbage from your home.
  • Cardboard boxes and paper bags can be used to store things or when packing items for your next move.
  • Plastic shopping bags can be reused on your next visit to the grocery store.

Save water

  • Place a plastic bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to reduce water use in the toilet.
  • Install water flow-reducing attachments for faucets and showerheads to reduce water use.

Be consumer wise

  • Purchase products and services from companies that are environmentally conscious.
  • Use safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals. For example, use insecticidal soaps instead of chemical sprays to get rid of insects on your plants at home.


Tracking Progress Against Pollution Prevention-A Federal Strategy for Action5
Goal: Provide access to the information and tools necessary to implement pollution prevention practices
1. Provide information that illustrates how pollution prevention fits into daily activities.Ongoing
  • Canadian Pollution Prevention Success Stories
  • EcoAction program
  • Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention
2. Create a national pollution prevention clearing house.Complete
  • Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse
3. Encourage consumers to use their purchasing power to promote pollution prevention.Ongoing
  • Auto$mart Program
  • Environmental Choice Program
  • Energy Star program

3 Pesticides: Making the Right Choice for the Protection of Health and the Environment. Report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, May 2000.
4 Symposium on Sustainable Consumption, Oslo, Norway, January 1994.
5 This table summarizes the linkages to programs and initiatives undertaken in pollution prevention with the federal government's action plan on pollution prevention with the Canadian public.