On January 5th, 2022, Canada’s Department of the Environment has published the long awaited Volatile Organic Compound Concentration Limits for Certain Products Regulations (SOR/2021-268). This effectively enacts Canada’s Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) regulations for consumer and commercial products.
Canada’s regulations will come into force on January 1, 2023. The maximum VOC concentration limits for manufacture and import of products listed in the schedules to the regulations will come into effect on January 1, 2024 (January 1, 2025, for disinfectant products).
Products which exceed the VOC limit for a specific product category after January 1, 2024 will require a special permit to manufacture and import into Canada, otherwise such products would be banned.
Product types will include personal care products, automotive and household maintenance products, adhesives, adhesive removers, sealants and caulks as well as other miscellaneous products.
Manufacturers and importers of regulated products will have to ensure their products comply with the new regulations and will be required to keep records for a minimum of 5 years. There are also other compliance options set out in the regulations to provide alternative paths to compliance for manufacturers and importers which includes special permits:
- Permit – Technical or Economic Non-Feasibility
- Permit – Product Whose Use Results in Lower VOC Emissions
- VOC Compliance Unit Trading System that allows companies to balance emissions from products that exceed the concentration limits with compliance units earned from products that were reformulated to have VOC concentration lower than the regulatory limits. The program also allows companies to trade compliance units with other companies.
The final regulations mostly align with the 2010 CARB regulations. CARB regulations contains the most restrictive VOC limits for consumer products in the US and have gone through many amendments to further reduce the VOC concentration limits for various product categories over the years. These regulations were adopted based on a promise to ensure that there is consistency across North America in terms of VOC requirements. It is important to note that there are differences to some of the product category definitions as Canada requires that the regulations including all definitions are provided in both English and French.
The regulations do not require companies to submit reports or conduct product testing, however the responsibility for compliance fall on the company manufacturing and/or importing applicable products. The determination of VOC concentration for the purposes of these regulations must be performed by an accredited laboratory.
The same product labelling requirements apply as for CARB where the date of product manufacture or a code representing that date must be listed on the product label.