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HRAI was notified in early June about a regulation proposed by the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks concerning electrical and electronic equipment under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.  The details of this consultation can be found here, and the text of the proposed regulation can be found here.

Consistent with other “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) regulations that have been introduced in other parts of Canada, this proposed regulation would require manufacturers to take responsibility for recovering and recycling products that they put into the market.  In this case, the regulation covers “large equipment” (including “air conditioners, fans and exhaust ventilation equipment”) and “small equipment” (which includes thermostats).  The obligations proposed for industry to manage recovery programs for affected equipment are quite onerous. 

Late in June, HRAI VP of Government and Stakeholder Relations Martin Luymes met with Ministry staff to make a case for exemption of HVACR products on the grounds that they mostly belong in a category of equipment exempt from the regulation called “large-scale fixed installations” -- which are defined in the regulation to mean

equipment, such as elevators, escalators, automated entryways, streetlights and electronic billboards, that,

(a)   are assembled, installed and de-installed by a qualified person, and

(b)   are intended to be used permanently as part of the building or a structure at a pre-defined and dedicated location.

In the meeting, and in a follow-up letter, HRAI argued that “HVACR products are installed by qualified technicians and are an integral part of the fabric of buildings (residential, commercial, ICI). These systems are piped, vented and wired directly to the fixed electrical and mechanical systems of a building and cannot be readily disconnected without altering the electrical and/or mechanical system’s connections and functionality. Like the examples provided in Section 2, Subsection (6) [of the proposed regulation] – elevators, escalators, etc. – mechanical heating, cooling and ventilation systems, once installed, form part of the real property of the building into which they are installed.  Unlike the plug-in appliances that make up the bulk of the “large equipment” category, HVACR products are not removed and replaced when buildings change ownership.” 

HRAI also pointed out that HVACR products are typically decommissioned by qualified technicians, due to the complexity of the technology and regulations governing these systems. The licensed and trained technicians who remove and decommission HVACR products/systems are also governed by other provincial and federal regulations such as the Code of Practice for the Elimination of Fluorocarbon Emissions for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Concerning the inclusion of thermostats in the small equipment category, HRAI’s submission suggested that “thermostats are an integral element of the heating and cooling systems in buildings and, as such, once installed, they become a wired-in part of the larger ‘fixed installation.’  Most of the legal requirements for proper installation and maintenance of these systems apply also to the installation of thermostats.”

HRAI also pointed out that HRAI has already established and managed for almost ten years a successful thermostat collection program called the Thermostat Recovery Program, which already meets the spirit of the regulation, on a voluntary basis.

Based on these considerations, HRAI recommended that:

a)     the proposed regulation be revised to define HVACR products/systems explicitly as “large-scale fixed installations” and therefore exempt from the regulation; and

b)     the proposed regulation be revised to exempt thermostats from the scope of regulation, or to explicitly recognize that an appropriate collection process already exists for the purpose.

Though Ministry staff were very sympathetic to these recommendations during their meeting with HRAI, they have not formally responded as yet to HRAI’s written submission.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 1-800-267-2231, ext. 235, or email mluymes@hrai.ca