Import and Export of PCBs

Four regulations, described below, control the import and export of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This fact sheet outlines the requirements for importing and exporting PCBs.

PCB Regulations

The purpose of the regulations is to protect the health of Canadians and the environment by preventing the release of PCBs to the environment and by accelerating the phasing out of these substances. Among other requirements, the PCB Regulations prohibit the export and import of PCBs in concentrations of 2 mg/kg or more unless it is a permitted activity under these regulations or if the export or import is controlled by the PCB Waste Export Regulations or the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations.

PCB Waste Export Regulations, 1996

These regulations establish controls on the export of PCB waste in concentrations of 50 mg/kg or more. Export is permitted only for thermal or chemical destruction in authorized facilities located in the United States. The export of PCBs to countries other than the United States is prohibited. However, since 1997 the United States has prohibited the import of waste containing PCBs in concentrations of 2 mg/kg or more, unless specific conditions are met.

Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (EIHWHRMR)

The purpose of these regulations is to control hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material that are transported across international borders so that they are managed in a way that protects the environment and human health. The export, import or transport through Canada of such waste or recyclable material may require a permit. The EIHWHRMR allow for the import, export and transit of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material with a PCB concentration of 50 mg/kg or more, if a permit is obtained and if other requirements are met.

Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations (ESECLR)

The ESECLR govern the export of substances included in Schedule 3 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999(CEPA 1999), which is also known as the Export Control List. One of the aims of these regulations is to ensure that Canada meets its international obligations regarding exports, established under international treaties such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. PCBs are included in Schedule 3 of CEPA 1999, and their export is controlled by the ESECLR regardless of concentration.

Export and Import of PCBs

The flow chart below summarizes whether the import or export is regulated or prohibited and which regulations apply.

Flowchart summarizing regulated or prohibited imports and exports

Is import or export regulated or prohibited and which regulations apply?

Do you want to export or import PCBs?
Export:
What is the concentration of PCBs?
Less than 2 mg/kg: Subject to the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations.
2 mg/kg or more and less than 50 mg/kg: Prohibited by the PCB Regulations. Export of PCBs may be permitted under the PCB Regulations for activities such as laboratory analysis; communication, navigation, electronic control equipment and cables contained in aircrafts, ships, trains and other vehicles; and colouring pigments; however, these activities may still be regulated by the Export of Substances on the Export Control List RegulationsFootnote 1 .
50 mg/kg or more: Is the export for the purpose of destruction?
If yes, is the United States the importer? The United States currently prohibits the import of wastes containing PCB concentrations of 2 mg/kg or more, unless specific conditions are met. If the United States is not the importer, then prohibited by the PCB Waste Export Regulations.
If no, prohibited by the PCB Waste Export RegulationsFootnote 2
Import: What is the concentration of PCBs?
Less than 2 mg/kg: Not subject to the PCB Regulations, the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations, the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations and the PCB Waste Export Regulations
2 mg/kg or more and less than 50 mg/kg: Prohibited by the PCB Regulations. Import of PCBs may be permitted under the PCB Regulations for activities such as laboratory analysis; communication, navigation, electronic control equipment and cables contained in aircrafts, ships, trains and other vehicles; colouring pigments; and fusion sealed capacitors for use in relation to communication tactical equipment or electronic control tactical equipment.Footnote 3
50 mg/kg or more: Is the import for the purpose of recycling or destruction?
If yes, subject to the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations.
If no, prohibited by the PCB RegulationsFootnote4.

Unless the PCB Waste Export Regulations 1996, the EIHWHRMR, or an exemption applies, the PCB Regulations prohibit the export and import of PCBs in concentrations of 2 mg/kg or more. The EIHWHRMR allow the import of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material with a PCB level of 50 mg/kg or more if a permit is obtained and if other requirements are met. The PCB Waste Export Regulations 1996 prohibit the export of waste containing PCBs in concentrations of 50 mg/kg or more to any country, except to the United States, but only for the purpose of destruction. However, since 1997, the United States has prohibited the import of waste containing PCBs in concentrations of 2 mg/kg or more, unless specific conditions are met. PCBs in concentrations of less than 2 mg/kg can be exported to the United States and other countries, depending on the legislation in the country of final destination. PCBs are included in Schedule 3 of CEPA 1999 and their export is controlled by the ESECLR regardless of concentration.

For More Information

PCB Regulations

Regulations
Website
Tel.: 844-815-6418 (toll-free)
Email: ec.bpc-pcb.ec@canada.ca

PCB Waste Export Regulations

Regulations
Website
Tel.: 844-524-5295 (toll-free)
Email: ec.mt-tm.ec@canada.ca

Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (EIHWHRMR)

Regulations
Website
Tel.: 844-524-5289 (toll-free)
Email: ec.mt-tm.ec@canada.ca

Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations (ESECLR)

Regulations
Website
Tel.: 819-938-4228
Email: ec.substancedexportationcontrolee-exportcontrolledsubstance.ec@canada.ca

Other Information on PCB Regulations

PCB Website
ePCB Website

Contacts
RegionemailPhone number
National Capital Regionec.bpc-pcb.ec@canada.ca1-844-815-6418
Atlanticec.bpcatlpcb.ec@canada.ca1-800-668-6767
Quebecec.bpcqc-pcbqc.ec@canada.ca514-283-5350
Ontarioec.onpromotiondelaconformite-oncompliancepromotion.ec@canada.ca1-800-668-6767
Prairies and NorthernPNRCompliancePromotion@ec.gc.ca204-983-1906
Pacific and Yukonec.bpcrpy-pcbpyr.ec@canada.ca604-666-9100

The guidance contained in this document should be used for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal guidance, since it does not reflect all the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 or the PCB Regulations. Thus, should there be any discrepancy between this document and the Act or the regulations, the Act and the regulations will prevail.

For the purpose of interpreting and applying the regulations, users must consult the regulations on Justice Canada's website.

Photos: © Environment and Climate Change Canada

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