7. Controlling pollution and managing waste (Part 7)

Part 7 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) provides the Minister with authorities to deal with various substances that have the potential to harm the environment or human health.

The disposal of waste at sea within Canadian jurisdiction and by Canadian ships in international waters requires a permit issued by the Minister. A permit for disposal at sea will be approved only if it is the environmentally preferable option. Incineration at sea is banned except under emergency situations. CEPA 1999 provides additional controls on disposal at sea, including

In 2008-2009, 96 permits were issued in Canada for the disposal of 3.79 million tonnes of waste and other matter, compared with 98 permits for the disposal of 4.74 million tonnes in 2007-2008. Most of this was dredged material that was removed from harbours and waterways to keep them safe for navigation. The number of permits issued has remained relatively stable since 1995. Less material was permitted for disposal in 2008-2009 than in 2007-2008 owing to a decrease in need from several large clients. There was a significant drop in the quantity of geological matter permitted for disposal in 2008-2009 as a result of the completion of several capital works for the 2010 Olympics and a slowing in the economy. The quantity of dredged material disposed of decreased due to a decreased volume of spring freshets depositing sediments in estuaries. Table 10 lists the number of disposal at sea permits and quantities permitted from 2008 to 2009, and Table 11 lists this information by region.

Table 10: Disposal at sea quantities permitted (in tonnes) and permits issued in Canada from April 2008 to March 2009
Material Quantity permitted Permits issued
Dredged material 3 113 760* 45
Geological matter 611 000* 4
Fisheries waste 67 985 46
Vessels - -
Organic 200 1
Total 3 792 945 96

* Dredged material and geological matter were converted to tonnes using an assumed density of 1.3 tonnes per cubic metre.

Table 11: Disposal at sea quantities permitted (in tonnes) and permits issued by region from April 2008 to March 2009
Material Atlantic:
quantity permitted
permits issued
quantity permitted
permits issued
Pacific and Yukon:
quantity permitted
Pacific and Yukon:
permits issued
Prairie and Northern:
quantity permitted
Prairie and Northern:
permits issued
Dredged material* 1 003 860 12 592 800 13 1 517 100 20 - -
Geological matter* - - - - 611 000 4 - -
Fish waste 66 085 42 1900 4 - - - -
Vessels - - - - - - - -
Organic - - - - - - 200 1
Total 1 069 945 54 594 700 17 2 128 100 24 200 1

*Dredged material and geological matter were converted to tonnes using an assumed density of 1.3 tonnes per cubic metre.

CEPA 1999 requires the monitoring of disposal sites to verify that permit conditions were met, and that scientific assumptions made during the permit review and site selection process were correct and sufficient to protect the marine environment. In 2008-2009, monitoring projects were completed on a total of 20 ocean disposal sites involving fieldwork conducted in the summer of 2007. The fieldwork included site stability and chemical concentration analysis at nine sites in the Quebec Region, a study of a scrap metal storage site in the Prairie and Northern Region, and baseline studies at six sites in the Atlantic Region. In addition to routine monitoring, several reviews of historical monitoring data were conducted to better streamline and manage future disposal activities. Following an extensive review of historical data and the emergence of disposal alternatives, 18 sites were closed in the Pacific and Yukon Region. It is worth noting that one of these sites was closed because of the discovery of a rare cold-water sponge reef in the area. Monitoring data were instrumental in the development of harbour management plans for Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and the Saint John harbour, New Brunswick.

CEPA 1999 enables the making of regulations governing the export and import of hazardous waste, including hazardous recyclable materials. The act also enables authorities to make regulations on the export and import of prescribed non-hazardous waste for final disposal. The act requires exporters of hazardous wastes destined for final disposal to submit export reduction plans; and sets out criteria that the Minister may consider in refusing to issue an export, import, or transit permit if the waste or recyclable material will not be managed in a manner that will protect the environment and human health.

Canada implements its international obligation as a Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal through the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations made under this Division of the act.

In June 2008, at the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, Canada led a decision on a strategic review of the Basel Convention with the aim of reviewing Parties' capacity to implement the Basel Convention objectives, such as ensuring the environmentally sound management of waste.

During the calendar yearFootnote 1 January 2008 to December 2008, the quantity of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material imported into Canada was 509 501 tonnes (t). This represented an increase of approximately 8% over the total 2007 import quantity, which was 470 136 t. The increase in the total quantities imported into Canada during 2008 amounted to 39 365 t, of which about 70% were hazardous recyclable materials and about 30% were hazardous waste destined for disposal operations. During 2008, just over 52 200 individual transboundary shipments of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material were reported in movement documents received.

In the case of exports of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material out of Canada, the overall quantities also increased marginally in 2008 compared with 2007 figures. In 2007, the total quantities of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material exports combined amounted to 452 396 t, which increased to 457 806 t in 2008. In this instance, there was a slight increase in the quantity of hazardous recyclable materials that were exported, from approximately 352 933 t in 2007 to 354 722 t in 2008. This represents an increase of 1789 t or approximately a third of the overall total increase of 5410 t.

During 2008, nearly 4000 notices were processed for proposed imports, exports and transits of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials. The notices received covered over 14 800 individual waste streams, which exhibited a range of hazardous properties from explosivity, flammability, acute toxicity, corrosivity, dangerous reactivity and environmental hazard.

The annual statistics for international transboundary movements indicate that in 2008, nearly 99.9% of Canadian imports came from the United States, with the remainder coming from Europe and Mexico as hazardous recyclable materials destined for metal recovery operations. Shipments destined for recycling, which reduce reliance on primary resources and benefit Canadian industry, represented nearly 49% of all imports in 2008, an increase from 47% in 2007. Used or spent batteries, metal-bearing waste, used or spent liquors from metallurgical processes, used lubricating oils and manufacturing residues made up the majority of imports of hazardous recyclable material into Canada. Hazardous waste imports destined for disposal operations included solid wastes no longer suitable for metal recovery, industrial residues and environmentally hazardous substances.

Imports of hazardous recyclable materials destined for recycling operations in 2008 were shipped to five provinces. Quebec and Ontario continued to receive the vast majority of all imports into Canada, with smaller quantities imported into British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick. The situation was similar for imports of hazardous waste for final disposal, with most destined for Quebec and Ontario, and relatively small quantities imported into Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

In 2008, exports of hazardous recyclable materials originated from eight provinces, with Ontario and Quebec accounting for 73% of all shipments out of Canada. The bulk of these shipments were sent to authorized environmentally sound facilities located in the northeastern and central United States. The only two provinces that did not export any hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable materials in 2008 were Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. No exports were made from any of the territories.

Figure 3 shows the trends of imports and exports, and Tables 12 and 13 list the quantities imported and exported from 2001 to 2008.

Figure 3: Imports and exports of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, 2001-2008 (tonnes)

FIgure 3 (see long description below)
Long description for figure 3

This bar chart shows that total exports of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material were lower than imports every year from 2001 to 2005. Total imports show a decline from 2001 to 2004 to just over 400 000 tonnes. They increased in 2005 and 2007 to about 470 000 tonnes and peaked in 2008 at slightly over their 2001 level of 500 000 tonnes. Total exports from 2001 to 2005 were fairly stable at about 300 000 tonnes and increased to about 470 000 tonnes in 2006 and about 220 000 tonnes in 2007 and about 250 000 tonnes in 2008. For the exact weights for all years, consult Table 12 and Table 13.

Table 12: Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, imports, 2001-2008 (tonnes)
Imports 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Recyclables 237 069 193 318 189 110 200 097 174 983 164 903 220 377 247 763
Total imports 499 758 423 067 417 368 416 136 476 416 408 839 470 136 509 501
Table 13: Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, exports, 2001-2008 (tonnes)
Exports 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Recyclables 237 872 238 597 205 356 187 986 226 380 374 024 352 933 354 722
Total exports 313 361 340 261 321 294 308 357 327 746 474 538 452 396 457 806

Page details

Date modified: