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Technical Document for Batch Waste Incineration

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Purpose

This Technical Document for Batch Waste Incinerationwas developed to provide guidance for owners and operators of batch waste incinerators regarding proper system selection, operation, maintenance and record keeping, with the goals of assisting them in achieving the intent of the Canada-wide Standards (CWS) for dioxins/furans and mercury, and reducing releases of other toxic substances. This technical document focuses on batch waste incinerators ranging in size from 50 to 3,000 kg of waste/batch. Batch waste incinerators are those that operate in a non-continuous manner (i.e. they are charged with waste prior to the initiation of the burn cycle, and the door remains closed until the ash has cooled inside the primary chamber). Air emission testing completed by Environment Canada in 2002 using a modern Canadian-built batch waste incinerator revealed that, when properly operated and maintained, these systems are capable of meeting the CWS for dioxins/furans (80 pg I-TEQ/Rm³@ 11% O2) and mercury. Stack testing can be carried out as required by the regulatory authorities in order to verify that these standards are met.

The document includes:

  • A discussion on the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling to divert wastes from disposal;
  • Methods for the selection of appropriate incineration technologies to meet specific waste management requirements;
  • Operational requirements that should allow batch waste incinerators to meet the intent of the CWS for dioxins/furans and mercury, and to reduce the release of other toxic substances; and
  • Recommendations on record keeping and reporting.

Owners and operators are advised to undertake a full review of relevant local legislation and consult with the appropriate regulators before proceeding with any waste management operation.

1.2 Background

Incineration is recognized as an effective and environmentally sound disposal method for a wide range of wastes, and is used in facilities and jurisdictions across Canada. Waste generators located in remote areas may have limited options for cost-effective and environmentally sound waste management, and incineration may therefore be considered an appropriate waste management option. Remote commercial activities, such as exploration and development of natural resources, can create large volumes and varieties of wastes that must be managed appropriately. Residual wastes from industry, research activities, and the health care sector may require thermal treatment as an environmentally sound method to control the spread of disease from plants, animals or humans. Furthermore, there are certain locations in Canada where incinerating waste is an important means of avoiding potentially dangerous interactions between humans and wildlife. In all cases, reduction and diversion should be the primary waste management objectives, prior to considering any disposal option.

This section provides background information on batch waste incineration, including: substances of concern; international and national initiatives; and provincial/territorial initiatives.

1.2.1 Substances of Concern

There are some important potential environmental concerns associated with waste incineration that can be addressed through proper equipment selection, operation, maintenance and record keeping. These include potential releases of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/F), which are persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and mercury.

Dioxins and Furans

Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDDD/F), commonly known as dioxins/furans (D/F) , are toxic, persistent, bioaccumulative, and result predominantly from human activity.

Data from the measurement of dioxins/furans in the North shows that these chemicals are frequently found at concentrations far in excess of those that might be explained by local production. With the increased social and economic development in Canada's North, it is important to control these persistent chemicals.

Dioxins and furans can be generated from incomplete combustion resulting from the use of inadequate technology and/or operating the incinerator improperly.


Another possible contaminant released from incinerators is mercury. Mercury bio-accumulates in the environment and, like POPs, is found in polar regions at higher concentrations than can be explained by local anthropogenic releases.

Mercury is not emitted from the incinerator unless items containing mercury are placed into the incinerator. The best method to control mercury releases is therefore to limit the amount of mercury in the waste fed to the incinerator.

1.2.2 International and National Initiatives

Over the years, Canada has participated in numerous initiatives to reduce dioxins and furans as well as mercury releases such as:

  • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants;
  • CCMEPolicy for Management of Toxic Substances;
  • Federal Toxics Substances Management Policy (TSMP),
  • Canada Wide Standards for Dioxins and Furans;
  • Canada Wide Standards for Mercury; and,
  • Chemicals Management Plan.
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

Canada is a Party to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which entered into force in May 2004. The Stockholm Convention sets out a range of measures to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate POP releasesFootnote 2.

Incineration was identified as a potential source of the POPs listed in Article 5 of the Stockholm Convention. Article 5 of the Convention requires Parties to take measures to reduce, and where feasible, eliminate releases of unintentionally produced POPs, including dioxins, furans, hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which are "unintentionally formed and released from thermal processes involving organic matter and chlorine as a result of incomplete combustion or chemical reactions".

Article 5 also requires that Best Available Techniques (BAT) and Best Environmental Practices (BEP) be applied for both new and substantially modified sources. "Best Available Techniques" are defined as using the most effective and advanced techniques that can be practically adopted to:

  • prevent or minimize harmful emissions of by-product POPs and other environmental impacts; or,
  • reduce by-product POPs releases to acceptable limits.

"Best Available Techniques" techniques can be applied by an operator to a specific facility since they have been developed to a state that they are economical and technically viable. Similarly, "best environmental practices" implies the application of the most appropriate combination of environmental control measures and strategies. Annex C states that for the purposes of the Convention there are a series of measures that are appropriate:

"Improvements in waste management with the aim of the cessation of open and other uncontrolled burning of wastes, including the burning of landfill sites. When considering proposals to construct new waste disposal facilities, consideration should be given to alternatives such as activities to minimize the generation of municipal and medical waste, including resource recovery, reuse, recycling, waste separation and promoting products that generate less waste."

CCMEPolicy for Management of Toxic Substances and the Federal Toxics Substances Management Policy

Canada took steps to improve the management of POPs even before the Stockholm Convention was adopted. Polychlorinated dioxins-p-dioxins (PCDD) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDF) were designated as Track 1 substances and scheduled for virtual elimination from the Canadian environment under the 1995 federal Toxic Substances Management PolicyFootnote 3 and the 1998 CCMEPolicy for the Management of Toxic SubstancesFootnote 4. PCDD/Fare on the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Footnote 5.

Under the federal 1995 Toxic Substances Management Policy and the 1998 CCMEPolicy for Management of Toxic Substances, mercury was designated as a Track 2 substance. As such, mercury must be managed through its life cycle to minimize releases. Mercury is on the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA 1999).

Canada-wide Standards for Dioxins and Furans

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) examined the incidental release of dioxins and furans in emissions from various combustion systems. This led to the development of the Canada-wide Standards for Dioxins and Furans, which were adopted by the CCME in 2001. The standards identify incineration for action to reduce emissions, and include specific air emission standards.

In a 2007 review of the Dioxins and Furans Canada-wide Standards for waste incinerationFootnote 6, a series of recommendations were made by the Dioxins and Furans Incineration Canada-wide Standards Review Group regarding batch incinerators in remote locations. These recommendations suggest that:

  • The company/department should take appropriate measures to ensure good operation and provide adequate records of such operation;
  • The company/department should only use incinerators that are equipped with monitoring equipment (temperature probes, differential pressure meters and auxiliary fuel flow) to ensure that proper operation is maintained. The monitoring equipment should be connected to a computer which will continuously log the data recorded;
  • All installations should install weigh scales to record the weight of each load charged to the incinerator;
  • All data from these systems should be available to inspectors;
  • The computerized data acquisition equipment should be integrated with all the operating controls of the incinerator in a manner that would facilitate remote access to the data to enable the manufacturer to assist the operator with trouble shooting the operation;
  • Operators should be trained, either through an appropriate site specific training program or through a certification program provided by a qualified body;
  • Operators should be instructed to distinguish between broad categories of waste, in terms of their calorific value, and be given clear instructions on how much from each category is suitable for charging to the primary chamber for a given batch;
  • All facilities should be required to file, with the appropriate regulatory authority, their annual waste throughput data. This filing should include details on the quantity and disposition of residues discharged from the facility.
Canada-wide Standards for Mercury

The Canada Wide Standards for Mercury Emissions were adopted in 2000 in order to reduce atmospheric emissions derived from both deliberate use of mercury and from incidental releases of mercuryFootnote 7. The standards include limits for mercury emissions from waste incinerators.

The Mercury Containing Product Stewardship: Manual for Federal FacilitiesFootnote 8provides useful information on how to develop an inventory of mercury within a facility, reducing mercury through life-cycle management practices, and monitoring and reporting on mercury stewardship activities.

Chemicals Management Plan

Canada 's efforts to improve the environment have also led to new measures under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP)Footnote 9, which was first brought forward in 2006. The CMP develops measures to better protect human health and the environment from the risks posed by chemical substances. Since CEPA was adopted, all new chemicals have received rigorous pre-market assessments; however, approximately 23,000 "legacy" chemicals were in use in Canada before CEPA came into effect. The CMPidentified a list of 193 substances as priority for action. Industry is required to provide Environment Canada and Health Canada with information regarding these substances on a quarterly basis within the next three years. The information that is received, along with that gathered from other sources, will be assessed and used to decide, if necessary, the appropriate actions required to protect the health of Canadians and the environment.

The Waste Sector has been identified as a sector under the CMP due to potential releases to the environment from incinerators and landfills.

1.2.3 Provincial / Territorial Initiatives

The CWS for both dioxins/furans and mercury have been incorporated into regulations related to new incinerators in various provinces. One example is the Ontario Guideline A-7Footnote 10 which incorporated the CWS emission values for new incinerators shortly after they were adopted and Guideline A-7Footnote 11which clarified the approach for existing facilities in 2004. In many cases, the adoption of the CWS by provincial regulators has resulted in the closure of older incineration facilities. Some facilities have been upgraded to meet the new standards.


Footnote 2

At the Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, held May 22 to 23 2001 in Stockholm, Sweden, the Convention was adopted and opened for Signature. It remained open for signature at the United Nations Headquarters, Treaty Section, in New York, until May 22, 2002. Available on-line at:

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Footnote 3

Environment Canada, Toxic Substances Management Policy. 1995. Available at

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Footnote 4

CCME, 1998. CCMEPolicy for the Management of Toxics Substances. January 29, 1998. Available at

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Footnote 5

CEPA, 1999. Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. 1999, c. 33 (Assented to September 14, 1999). Available at

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Footnote 6

Chandler, A.J., 2007. Review of Dioxins and Furans from Incineration In Support of a Canada-wide Standard Review A Report Prepared for The Dioxins and Furans Incineration Review Group through a contract associated with CCMEProject #390-2007. Available at:

Return to footnote 6 referrer

Footnote 7

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). Canada-Wide Standard for Mercury Emissions, 2000. Available at:

Return to footnote 7 referrer

Footnote 8

Mercury-containing Product Stewardship: Manual for Federal Facilities. (2004). Environment Canada. Available at

Return to footnote 8 referrer

Footnote 9

Chemicals Management Plan (CMP), 2006 Notice of intent to develop and implement measures to assess and manage the risks posed by certain substances to the health of Canadians and their environment. Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

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Footnote 10

Ontario Ministry of the Environment, 2004. GUIDELINE A-7 Combustion and Air Pollution Control Requirements for New Municipal Waste Incinerators. Legislative Authority: Environmental Protection Act, Part V, Section 27, and Part II, Section 9. Last revision February, 2004. Available at:

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Footnote 11

Ontario Ministry of the Environment, 2004. GUIDELINE A-8 Guideline for the Implementation of Canada-wide Standards for Emissions of Mercury and of Dioxins and Furans and Monitoring and Reporting Requirements for Municipal Waste Incinerators Biomedical Waste Incinerators Sewage Sludge Incinerators Hazardous Waste Incinerators Steel Manufacturing Electric Arc Furnaces Iron Sintering Plants. Legislative Authority: Environmental Protection Act, Part V, Section 27, and Part II, Section 9, August 19, 2004. Available at:

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