Management of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material in Canada

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

  • Municipal governments establish collection, recycling, composting 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 waste within their jurisdictions.
  • The federal government regulates transboundary movements of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, in addition to negotiating international agreements related to chemicals and waste.

Environment and Climate Change Canada 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 waste and hazardous recyclable material.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 Regulations related to hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), the Waste Reduction and Management Division of Environment and Climate Change Canada 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 Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (the regulations) revoked and replaced the EIHWR in November 2005. The Regulations establish a permitting regime to control and track transboundary movements of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material between Canada and other countries. It is through this permitting process that Canada obtains consent from the importing and transit countries.

The regulations were amended in 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. The regulations were further amended in 2016 to strengthen Canada’s ability to meet two of its obligations under the Basel Convention: the obligation to seek the consent of importing and transit countries for any export from Canada of waste or recyclable material subject to the Basel Convention, including household waste; and the obligation to take or send back shipments that cannot be completed as planned. These amendments were published in Canada Gazette Part II on November 3, 2016.

If you are an individual or business that exports waste or recyclable material from Canada, imports it into Canada, or conveys it in transit through Canada, for recycling or disposal purposes, and the waste or recyclable material is considered to be hazardous under the regulations, Environment and Climate Change Canada has prepared a suite of tools, including the Online Notification and Permit System, 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 waste to the United States for treatment and destruction (excluding landfilling) when the waste is in concentration equal to or greater than 50 parts per million. The regulations require that advance notice of proposed export shipments be given to Environment and Climate Change Canada. If the PCB waste shipment complies with the regulations and if the authorities in any countries or provinces through which the waste will transit do not object to the shipment, a permit is sent from Environment and Climate Change Canada 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.

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