See also the Composting Council of Canada. However, the
Ministry of the Environment has struggled to manage odour
complaints near composting sites, and issues relating to
contaminants in compost, especially when sewage biosolids are used
as feedstock. Pulp and paper biosolids have also generated
considerable concern in some quarters. The new rules address both
The new rules are found in three parts (1) Ontario Compost
Quality Standards (Standards) and (2) Guideline for the Production
of Compost in Ontario (Guideline), and (3) supportive amendments
to Regulation 347 under the Environmental
Protection Act (EPA) and O. Reg. 267/03 under the Nutrient Management
Act, 2002 (NMA).
The Standards document includes three new compost standards
– AA, A and B:
Highest quality standards; similar to former Ontario standards
but with some modifications.
May not contain sewage biosolids, pulp & paper biosolids or
septage as feedstock.
Continues the use of former zinc and copper standards, which
are more stringent than Category A.
Restrictions on Use:
Category AA may be used without restrictions or approvals (both
on and off farm).
Consistent with the CCME Category A quality guidelines.
Category A allows for slightly higher concentration of zinc and
May use biosolids as feedstock (maximum 25% of total
feedstock), but must meet the metals standards on input
Restrictions on Use:
Category A must include the following labelling information:
maximum application rates;
identification of any biosolids and domestic septage used as
warning that product should not be used on soils with elevated
copper or zinc concentrations.
Category A compost may be used without an Environmental
Compliance Approval (ECA) (both on and off farm).
Meet the CCME Category B quality guidelines plus Ontario's
Cadmium and Copper standards; less restrictive metals and foreign
matter standards than Category AA and A.
May use biosolids, but must meet the same metals standards for
feedstock as Category A.
Restrictions on Use:
Category B compost would continue to require government
approval for use and transportation (i.e., ECA off-farm or an
approved NASM Plan on-farm).
Waste or product?
The "retail sale" exception from waste regulation no
longer applies to compost. Compost must therefore be handled as
"waste" unless it meets specified quality standards,
normally Category AA or Category A. Facilities with approvals
issued before January 1, 2013 can sell, as a product, compost
that meets Category AA requirements for metals, quality
of feedstock and pathogens, if its environmental compliance
approval sets quality standards for other issues.
Guideline on Composting Facilities
The Guideline on composting facilities includes best practices
guidance for composting facilities, including:
Land use planning and site selection
Site and facility design considerations
Operating procedures during each stage of material
Operational flexibility and optimization
Operational controls such as compost recipe development and
composting process monitoring
Prevention and control of potential adverse effects, such as
Key revisions to the Guideline since consultation include more
detailed guidance on odour issues, including:
Negative air pressure to control fugitive emissions
Minimum separation distance from sensitive receptors and buffer
Controversial feedstocks, such as plastic bags, compostable
plastic bags and disposable diapers and sanitary items
Existing compost facilities can expect to be pressed to meet the
new Guidelines, to the extent practicable.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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