US - Canada Municipal Waste Import/Export Issues
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.
The 1986 Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste ("bilateral agreement") (PDF) (10 pp, 317K) establishes a mutual notice and consent regime for the transboundary movement of hazardous waste.
- The bilateral agreement was amended in 1992 to add substantially similar
provisions for municipal solid waste (MSW). While Environment
Canada now has the statutory authority (and is in the process of developing
regulations), the United States has not yet enacted the legislation
needed to provide EPA with specific statutory authority to require notice
and consent for the transboundary movement of MSW.
- In the interim, EPA continues to work with the greater Toronto area
municipalities, the province of Ontario, and Environment Canada to better
understand which entities are currently exporting MSW to Michigan, what
they are doing or planning to do to reduce their exports, and how they
are working to ensure compliance with Michigan's solid waste regulations.
- In response to concerns expressed by Michigan elected officials and citizens regarding Canadian MSW shipments, EPA Region 5 conducted a joint project in 2005 with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The purpose of the project was to monitor the disposal of Canadian and domestic MSW at eight landfills for compliance with environmental laws and regulations. The eight landfills monitored receive almost all of the Canadian MSW shipments. An EPA contractor conducted weekly, unannounced inspections of incoming foreign and domestic waste loads between March and October 2005. Inspection data indicated no appreciable difference in compliance with environmental regulations between MSW loads imported from Canada and loads generated within Michigan or another state in the United States. A final report detailing this project was issued in June 2006.
- In addition, EPA and Environment Canada conducted a voluntary pilot project in 2005 between the governments of Canada and the United States to test the implementation of a notice and consent scheme for transboundary movements of MSW patterned after the existing scheme used for hazardous waste shipments. Six Canadian exporters submitted a total of fourteen notices under the pilot project, which began on April 1, 2005 and concluded on December 31, 2005. All of the notices were for exports from Ontario to landfills in Michigan. The wastes described in the export notices accounted for approximately forty percent of the total volume of Canadian MSW disposed in Michigan landfills (based on a comparison with Michigan’s data regarding the annual waste flows between October 1, 2004 and September 30, 2005). All of the shipments of MSW described in the notices did not conflict with applicable federal and Michigan State requirements. A distribution letter (PDF) (2 pp, 96K) jointly signed by Environment Canada and US EPA and a final report (PDF) (25 pp, 437K) detailing the pilot project was issued in March 2007.