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ARCHIVED - A Guidance Document for Distinguishing Waste, Recyclable Materials and Products for Regulations Under CEPA 1999

3.0 Explanation of the Criteria

Introduction

The criteria are, in effect, the key questions to ask in determining whether a given substance or mixture is a waste, recyclable material or product. The criteria, under each of the five categories, are explained in the rest of this section. To assist in explanation, some indicators are given of what elements should be present to signify conformance with each criterion.

A. Origin, Purpose and Destination

Specific criteria:

This category has one criterion:

  • A1 The substance or mixture is produced intentionally, for a specific and pre-determined end use, and ultimately to be sold.

Indicators:

A positive response to the following indicators would provide an indication that the substance or material is not a waste or a recyclable material but a product.

  • The substance or mixture is produced intentionally, rather than as an inevitable byproduct or a residual of producing another substance or product . The producing facility has an option to produce it, or not, but without market demand, it would not be produced.
  • It is produced for a pre-determined end use, e.g., to be sold directly, or to be used in a process which produces materials/products that will be sold.

Comments:

A substance or mixture that is produced intentionally, for a predetermined end use, is product product In contrast, something that no longer serves its original purpose and is intended for disposal is a waste.

Also, where the mixture or substance is unavoidably produced as a process by-product and requires processing for it or its components to be used again in the same or another process, then it is a waste or a recyclable material.

These distinctions, however, may be subject to certain other factors. For example, substance or mixture which was intentionally produced but is now at the end of its useful life (e.g., used lead-acid battery), or an off-spec product (e.g., off-spec chemical pesticide) is no longer considered a product. And substance or mixture that originally resulted as a by-product in a production process but which has been subsequently processed to a point where it can be used in the same way as a raw/virgin substance in a process, may be no longer be a recyclable material but a product. If this same by-product is destined for a disposal operation such as landfilling, incineration or processing prior to landfilling or incineration, then it would be a waste.

The history of substance or mixture's use has a bearing on its status as waste, recyclable material or product. A practical and beneficial use may be found for any substance or mixture that may have occurred as a waste. While simply finding a use for a substance or mixture that had been traditionally managed as a waste does not automatically make it a product, the substance or mixture may eventually become established as a product, whose main purpose for production is ultimately financial benefit. Some substances or mixture which originated as a waste, have developed markets which have increased in value and they have become as valuable as the originally intended product.

The other four categories of criteria are intended to address these and other distinctions.

B. Degree Of Processing Required

Specific criteria:

This factor has one criterion:

  • B1 The substance or mixture requires no further processing (or very little processing) before it can be used as a product or in a process that yields a product.

Indicators:

A positive response to the following indicator would suggest the substance or mixture is a product.

  • The substance or mixture can be used as it exists to be sold as a product, or used in a process that creates a saleable product. .

Comments:

While a substance or mixture's origin, purpose and destination might suggest that it was derived from a waste or recyclable material, certain conditions may cause it to be considered as a product. For example, if the substance or mixture could be sold directly as a product, or if it could be fed into a process which creates saleable products, without needing to be processed first, then it more closely fits the notion of a product.

Determining whether a substance or mixture is a product, l or a recyclable material that requires further processing before it can be used , is often difficult. Recovered solvents that were used or recharged batteries, for example, can be sold and used directly. Once they have been processed, these recycled material are considered products. Similarly, a recyclable material that has been processed to a point where it may be fed into another process and is more or less comparable to a raw/virgin substance, or an alternative to that substance, in the same process, could be considered to be no longer a waste or recyclable material.

The degree of further processing that is required may be a determining factor in some cases. For example, if a product simply needed repackaging in order to prepare it for shipment for use as originally intended, it could be considered a product.

On the other hand, one that needed to be chemically processed before being fed into a production process, would be considered recyclable material. Simply sorting, bulking or mixing that substance or mixture which needed chemical processing would be insufficient to trigger status as a product.

Additionally, the substance or mixture may be so contaminated or the cost of processing so high that even if it could be recycled it is destined to a disposal operation. In this case, even if the substance or mixture is theoretically recyclable, it would be considered a waste.

Case Study Illustrations:

Some cases are used, below, to illustrate how where a substance or mixture would be considered as a waste, recyclable material or a product.

In the first case, a process is used to remove 6Li isotope from lithium hydroxide monohydrate.
After re-crystallization, the remaining LiOH.H2O is enriched with 7Li and of higher purity. The intent is to produce a saleable product, which needs no further processing or upgrading to be used/sold. On this basis it would be considered as a product.

In the second case, ash containing a hazardous amount and form of vanadium undergoes reprocessing. This makes it more suitable for vanadium recovery. However, since the reprocessed material is still an ash, and still needs further processing to become a marketable substance or mixture (i.e., vanadium), it is still a waste or recyclable material.

C. Residuals and Potential Hazard

Specific criteria:

This factor has two criteria:

  • C1 Use or re-use of the substance or mixture does not generate wastes and emissions/effluents requiring further treatment, in excess of those resulting from the use of raw/virgin substances.

  • C2 The substance or mixture does not have significant potential for contamination that would make it more hazardous.

Indicators:

If the following indicators are true, it would suggest the substance or mixture is a product.

C1 Use or re-use of the substance or mixture does not generate wastes requiring further treatment, relative to the use of raw/virgin substances.

  • the degree of hazard, cumulatively, is equal or less than the use of equivalent raw/virgin substances (information is required on what wastes are produced by the use or re-use of the substance or mixture , and the degree of environmental hazard).

C2 The substance or mixture does not have significant potential for contamination that would make it more hazardous.

  • the degree of hazard, cumulatively, is equal or less than the use of equivalent raw/virgin substances.

Comments:

The fundamental purpose of the EIHWR is to protect the environment and human health from the release of hazardous wastes. For this reason, there must be an assurance that there will be no harm to the environment and/or human health as a result of classifying a substance or mixture as a product rather than as a waste or recyclable material. Accordingly, Environment Canada wants to be sure that recyclable materials that have been processed and are being sold or fed into a process are not resulting in greater harm to the environment and/or human health, than would have resulted with the use of raw/virgin substances that would otherwise have been utilized in the process.

Case Study Illustrations:

An example is where caustic solutions are used as a scrubber during a hydrocracking process. During the process, the solution becomes loaded with organic acid and phenols (hazardous substances). Once the organics build to a concentration of 10%, the caustic solution is no longer useful. The used solution is being sent to a processing facility in another jurisdiction to recover the organic material (organic acid and phenols). The used solution is a recyclable material, because it needs further processing before it can be used again, and because it contains contaminants that have significant potential for causing harm to the environment.

D. Standards and Quality Control

Specific criteria:

This factor has four criteria:

  • D1 Production is subject to quality control and the adherence to national or international standards including environmental considerations.

  • D2 The substance or mixture is managed in a manner that minimizes loss.

  • D3 The production facility tracks purchases, production and sales.

  • D4 The substance or mixture meets industrial requirements for use as an ingredient.for a variety of circumstances

Indicators:

A positive response to the following indicators would suggest the substance or mixture is a product.

D1 Production is subject to quality control and the adherence to national or international standards including environmental considerations.

  • A quality control process is in place, including provisions like criteria for rejection of substandard products.
  • The facility's operations involving the material adhere to existing national or international standards; or there are agreements, orders or similar instruments in place giving consent or regulatory variance for the facility's operations, from a recognized responsible regulatory authority (e.g., Environment Canada, USEPA, provincial government departments, state regulatory agencies). There should be specific requirements in such instruments.
  • There are contractual specifications in place between the producer and the receiver of the substance or mixture.
  • The above includes considerations of environmental protection, e.g., prevention or control of emissions, effluents, contamination, residual wastes, security, etc.

D2 The substance or mixture is managed in a manner that minimizes loss.

  • A loss control plan is in place, which includes measures for assessing l loss on an ongoing basis, and indicates corrective action will be taken to minimize loss.
  • The existence of a loss control system is usually related to the reason for creating a product, i.e., that it has economic value and market demand. Therefore, there is incentive to produce it.

D3 The production facility tracks purchases, production and sales.

  • Purchases, production and sales are recorded by the facility, on an ongoing basis.
  • Auditable records of purchases, production and sales exist, and are current and comprehensive.

D4 The substance or mixture meets industrial requirements for use as an ingredient for a variety of circumstances.

  • The substance or meets industrial requirement for use as an ingredient under a wide range of circumstances, homogeneity of product, etc.
  • Its use is not limited to one facility or under limited circumstances.

Comments:

If the substance or mixture meets recognized national or international standards as well as any federal, provincial, territorial or aboriginal government laws or regulations applicable to products, and these standards include environmental considerations, then two purposes are accomplished. First, it is an indicator that the material is a product. Second, it suggests that there is an acceptable level of environmental or other risk in treating it as a product rather than controlling it as a waste or recyclable material.

In a similar sense, the way in which the substance or mixture is managed and controlled becomes an important indicator in making a determination as a waste, recyclable material or product. If there are requirements set out in laws and/or regulations or stringent criteria used by the producer or the industry that the producer is a part of on quality, loss control, etc., then it suggests that the intent is that the substance or mixture is a product rather than a waste or recyclable material.

Another factor is the consistency and homogeneity of the substance or mixture being produced. Usually, a substance or mixture can only meet a regulatory requirement and/or standard if it conforms to a sufficiently narrow range in specifications. Similarly, confidence can be placed in its meeting environmental safety requirements only if it falls within a certain range of physical and chemical properties. Therefore, the quality control of the substance or mixture is relevant to its being considered as a waste, recyclable material or product.

If the substance or mixture is not consistently homogeneous (in nature) over time, it may meet industrial requirements for use as an ingredient only under certain circumstances. For example, if the plant accepting the substance or mixture can accept it only within a narrow range of physical or chemical parameters, and the producer produces it within a much wider range, then the receiving plant may not accept it as a feed for use in the plant's processes. In such a case, the substance or mixture does not meet the criteria for determination as a product.

In short, compliance with federal, provincial territorial, or aboriginal government laws and/or regulations, adherence to a standard and implementation of quality controls address the principle of consistency.

Case Study Illustrations:

Some cases are used, below, to illustrate how where a substance or mixture would be considered a waste, recyclable material or a product. .Let us examine a case where ash containing a hazardous form and concentration of vanadium undergoes some reprocessing to make it more suitable for vanadium recovery but the re-processing is not done is not done in accordance with a recognized national, international or industrial product standard. This would indicate that the ash containing vanadium is recyclable material rather than a product.

In a second situation, the desulphurization of flue gas has resulted in the availability of an ingredient (calcium sulphate) to produce gypsum. The process has improved enough to produce a substance or mixture of the same quality as raw/virgin substances that would otherwise have been used for the production of wallboard. The recovered substance or mixture and the raw/virgin substance are judged as having the same quality. . Hence, the calcium sulphate recovered from flue gas desulphurization in this case is considered a product.

E. Economic Value and Market Viability

Specific criteria:

  • E1 The material has a measurable positive economic value.

  • E2 The market for the material is identifiable, measurable and generally viable

Indicators:

If the following indicators are true, it would suggest the substance or mixture is a product

E1 The substance or mixture has a measurable positive economic value.

  • The value of the substance or mixture i, including its intrinsic value and the rate of return from processing it for use, is known and is consistently positive.
  • The value, as determined, compares favorably with other raw/virgin substances.

E2 The market for the substance or mixture is identifiable, measurable and generally viable.

  • There is an identifiable market, i.e., industry, processor and ultimate product for sale.
  • There are a number of receiving facilities (and/or processes) available for acceptance of the substance or mixture.
  • There is a "track record" of using the substance or mixture for the proposed process, i.e., state how long the substance or mixture has been in use.

Comments:

The economic value of the substance or mixture and its market viability are collateral to the fundamental reasons for the substance or mixture's production and its eventual destination. If the substance or mixture has consistently positive an economic value, and the markets for it are well established, this provides support for the contention that the substance or mixture is a product. Conversely, if its value is significantly lower the use of raw/virgin materials that would otherwise be used, it may suggest the substance or mixture lacks consistency or is of inferior quality.

Sometimes the substance or mixture might be utilized as a feedstock (e.g. a product), for example, while at other times it might be sent to disposal as a waste. This could translate into inconsistency in the level of quality control and homogeneity of the produced substance or mixture , and the risk of harm to the environment and/or human health. In such cases, it is more likely that the substance or mixture would be considered a waste or recyclable material.

Case Study Illustrations:

A lead smelter yields 96% silver alloy, as a by-product, from its lead smelting operations, using a standard industry method of production consistent with that of silver alloy from a primary production process. The smelter wants to sell the silver alloy to be used as a raw/virgin substance in an industrial process. The silver alloy has an economic value, and there is market demand for the alloy's use. It meets the recognized specifications of the metal industry and past experience in the use of silver alloy demonstrates no increased risk of harm to the environment or human health. On all of these bases, the determination is that the material is a product.