Compost Environmental Protection Standards in Canada (1)

Article excerpt

Abstract: The purpose of this paper was to summarize and compare Canadian environmental protection standards for compost. The paper describes the national and provincial organizations responsible for compost quality control in Canada. Discussions were organized under the key environmental protection criteria: maturity, trace elements, time-temperature requirements, pathogens (indicator organisms), foreign matter, and trace organics. A total of six organizations (three across Canada and three provincial) currently have distinct standards. Recent efforts to harmonize the standards have reduced the disparity between the various organizations.

Key words: compost, Canada, standards, environmental protection, criteria, solid waste management.

Resume : Le but de cet article est de resumer et de comparer les normes de protection environnementales canadiennes concernant le compost. Il decrit les organisations nationales et provinciales responsables du controle de la qualite des composts au Canada. Des discussions ont ete organisees concernant les criteres cles de protection environnementale : maturite, oligoelements, exigences temps-temperature, agents pathogenes (organismes indicateurs), corps etrangers et substances organiques a l'etat de traces. Un total de six organisations (trois canadiennes et trois provinciales) possedent des normes distinctes. Les efforts recents d'harmonisation des normes ont reduit la disparite entre les diverses organisations.

Mots cles : compost, Canada, normes, protection environnementale, criteres, gestion des dechets solides.

[Traduit par la Redaction]


The purpose of this paper is to compare Canadian environmental protection standards for compost. These standards impact engineering design and operating decisions. Compost quality standards also play an important role in marketing and the beneficial use of compost as well as in the expansion of composting of urban waste. These standards involve both environmental protection and product standards. Environmental protection (EP) standards mainly consider human, animal, and plant health and environmental impacts; while product standards emphasize agronomic factors such as nutrients (N, P, and K). Environmental protection standards are the focus of this paper.

Within EP standards for compost, five quality criteria are typically considered: maturity, trace element (heavy metal), time-temperature requirements, microbial pathogens (indicator organisms), and foreign matter. Some regulatory jurisdictions also include trace organics (e.g., dioxin and furans for Quebec). Both across Canada and provincial organizations are involved in the development of compost EP standards. The across Canada organizations involved include the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulating compost for sale, the Bureau de normalization du Quebec (BNQ) setting voluntary standards, and the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) encouraging the harmonization of provincial standards. Provincial governments are also responsible for compost production and quality standards for compost produced and applied in that province.


National organizations

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), formed in 1997, regulates compost under the authority of the Canadian Fertilizers Act (CFA) (AAFC 2004a). The CFIA has been actively involved in compost standards development. It is an observer at both the CCME and BNQ meetings on compost standards to provide advice and guidance and to ensure that the standards do not contravene the requirements of the Fertilizers Act and Regulations (Ring and Madey (3)). Compost sold in or imported into Canada must comply with the requirements of the CFA and Fertilizers Regulations (AAFC 2004b). The concentration of trace elements in compost is subject to Standards for Metals in Fertilizers and Supplements (Trade Memorandum T-4-93; CFIA 1997). …