Management of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials in Canada

In Canada, all three levels of government contribute to environmental protection and have a role to play in managing hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials.

  • Municipal governments are responsible for establishing collection, recycling, and disposal programs within their jurisdictions.
  • Provincial and territorial governments establish measures and criteria for licensing hazardous-waste generators, carriers, and treatment facilities, in addition to controlling movements of wastes within their jurisdictions.
  • The Federal Government regulates transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials, in addition to negotiating international agreements.

Environment Canada (EC) implements the terms of international agreements related to hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials to which it is a party. In signing these agreements, Canada made a commitment to develop national legislation to promote the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 Regulations related to hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), EC's Waste Reduction and Management Division implements the following regulations:

  1. Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (EIHWHRMR)
  2. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) Waste Export Regulations
  3. Interprovincial Movement of Hazardous Waste Regulations

1. Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations

The first Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations (EIHWR) came into force on November 26, 1992, under the former CEPA. The revised EIHWHRMR revoked and replaced the EIHWR in November 2005.  The EIHWHRMR control and track the movement of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material between Canada and other countries, as well as implement the prior informed consent mechanisms for exports, imports and transit of such materials.

At the time, EIHWR required modification because a number of changes have occurred both domestically and internationally since 1992. Among these was the entry into force of CEPA 1999, which included new authorities with respect to hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials that did not exist under the former CEPA. By implementing these new authorities and modernizing the former control regime, the EIHWHRMR help Canada adapt to its evolving international obligations, and contribute to the protection of the environment and human health.

The Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (EIHWHRMR) were amended on May 4, 2012 mainly to address some minor clarity issues and inconsistencies that were identified in the regulatory text by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.  The amendments were published in Canada Gazette Part II on May 23, 2012. 

If you are an individual or business that exports from, imports into, or transits within Canada (for recycling or disposal purposes), wastes or materials that are considered to be hazardous under the EIHWHRMR, EC has prepared a suite of tools to help you fulfill your responsibilities according to the Regulations.

2. Polychlorinated Biphenyls Waste Export Regulations

The Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) Waste Export Regulations allow Canadian owners of PCB waste to export such wastes to the United States for treatment and destruction (excluding landfilling) when these wastes are in concentrations equal to or greater than 50 parts per million. The Regulations require that advance notice of proposed export shipments be given to EC. If the PCB waste shipment complies with the Regulations for the protection of human health and the environment, and authorities in any countries or provinces through which the waste will transit do not object to the shipment, a permit is sent from EC to the applicant authorizing the shipment to proceed.

More information is also available on other PCB related regulations on the PCB web site.

3. Interprovincial Movement of Hazardous Waste Regulations

The Interprovincial Movement of Hazardous Waste Regulations control the movements of hazardous waste between provinces and territories by prescribing the use of a tracking system.