National norms and standards provide the foundation of the regulatory system. The Waste Act allows for an integrated system of norms and standards across the three spheres of government. Certain norms and standards at a national level are mandatory, while others are discretionary. In addition, provinces may set norms and standards that are not in conflict with national norms and standards. Municipalities may also set local waste service standards. The system of norms and standards will be developed in a sequenced manner, with the immediate focus being on the development of mandatory standards, which include:

  • The classification of waste.
  • Planning and delivery of waste management services.
  • The storage, treatment and disposal of waste (including the planning and operation of waste treatment and waste disposal facilities). 

In relation to the classification of waste, the Waste Classification and Management System will be in effect as of September 2010.  The system will identify norms and standards for the appropriate storage, handling and disposal for different waste management activities and acceptable use types, and will dynamically evolve to incorporate norms and standards as they develop. This system is described in more detail in Section 3.2.

The provision of waste management services has been addressed by two sets of standards. The first set of standards provides for the delivery of free basic waste services and the level of service that will be provided. The second set of standards revolve around the collection of waste, and includes recommendations for separation of waste at source, measures to promote recycling, and prescriptions in terms of the frequency of collection.

In terms of the discretionary national norms and standards, the development of technical standards for the remediation of contaminated land and soil quality has been identified as a priority and the standards will be published for comment by April 2010. 

Other discretionary norms and standards will be identified and developed using the following criteria:

  • The contribution to achievement of the waste hierarchy.
  • The extent of the environmental impact.
  • The impact on availability of landfill space.
  • The relationship to other priority sectors (such as waste-to-energy and its contribution to the climate change mitigation strategy).
  • The existence of proactive industries which have established and adhere to additional operating standards.
  • The existence of standard operating procedures which may be converted into standards for particular sectors or companies with multiple sites.
  • Elements of the waste transportation sector that have not been properly regulated. 

To prevent a proliferation of norms and standards, discretionary provisions for provincial and local government norms and standards should only be invoked where national implementation is unable to effectively address provincial or local waste management issues due to regional variation. Instances where possible regional variation might be required should be identified and discussed in the appropriate inter-governmental forums.