Exemptions to the law include:
- An allowance for the domestic manufacturing of lead wheel balance weights within Canada designed only for export outside of Canada;
- Importation of lead wheel weights into Canada designed only for immediate transport through Canada to a destination address outside of Canada; and/or
- The importation of lead wheel weights already installed on vehicles.
Additionally, all lead wheel balance weight inventories existing in the Canadian market prior to Feb. 3, 2024, are allowed to be sold and installed on vehicles within Canada as designed after the enforcement date.
The main non-lead alternatives available in the Canadian market are zinc, steel and plasteel wheel-balance weight options, according to Wegmann Automotive G.m.b.H., one of the leading suppliers of wheel weights.
The Tire Dealers Association of Canada (TDAC) said it supports the new regulation and notes that suppliers of wheel weights in Canada have been working on solutions for several years in anticipation of this regulation.
The 12-month period between the publishing of the regulation and the regulation coming into full force will give the Canadian supply chain adequate time to adjust and deliver non-lead-based products to dealers across the country, the TDAC said.
The new law is an extension of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) that went into force in 1999. A project looking into the issue since 2014 finally reached approval during the first session of the Canadian 2023 Parliament calendar, Wegmann said, and was posted on Feb. 16 to the Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 157, thus making it official.
"We were fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside the government of Canada on developing this new law that will change the tire supply market within Canada in the coming months and years," said Emile Lajoie, Canadian sales director for Wegmann Automotive.
"Our market is flush with readily available non-lead alternatives that will provide a continued positive user experience as well as a positive environmental impact."
The new regulations draw heavily on the findings of research conducted by the Department of the Environment from 2014 to 2017, which surveyed stakeholders — industry members active in Canada such as manufacturers, importers and distributors; downstream users; independently owned repair shops, car dealers and tire dealers; and secondary lead smelters, scrap yards, recyclers, and scrap metal brokers; environmental non-governmental organizations; and non-profit organizations.
A survey conducted in 2011 found that lead wheel weights accounted for 72% of the Canadian market, with 28% made from an alternative material.
The agency issuing the regulations stressed that they are based on a scientific risk assessment of the potential effects of lead on the environment and health of Canadians, are in line with international regulatory standards, and do not require any additional government expenditures.
The law does not spell out the nature of fines in the event of violations of the law, but it does state that the Environmental Department will assume responsibility training, inspections, investigations, measures to deal with any alleged violations and compliance promotion activities. These activities represent $100,000 in one-time costs for enforcement, which would include intelligence assessment work, enforcement strategy development, and the training of enforcement officers.
In the U.S., at least nine states — California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington — have bans on lead wheel weights in place.