Organic Matter Recycling Regulation


The Ministry of Environment (the ministry) will be revising the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation (OMRR) made under the Environmental Management Act and the Public Health Act. Enacted in 2002, the OMRR governs the construction and operation of composting facilities and the production, distribution, sale, storage, use, and land application of biosolids and compost. The OMRR was developed to facilitate the recycling of organic material while protecting human health and the environment. Organic matter can originate from plants, animals or humans, as well as from residential, commercial, institutional, or industrial sources. Examples of organic matter include: food scraps, grass clippings, and animal and human waste. A feature of organic matter is that it is biodegradable. Organic matter can be recycled to create products for beneficial uses.

Organic matter suitable for composting under the OMRR is described in Schedule 12 and includes: food waste, animal bedding, biosolids, brewery and winery wastes, domestic septic tank sludge, fish and hatchery wastes, manure, milk processing waste and whey, plant matter derived from processing plants, poultry car­casses, red-meat waste, untreated and unprocessed wood residuals, and yard waste.

On April 4, 2016 the Provincial government announced that it will be undertaking a comprehensive review of the OMRR to ensure it remains protective of human health and the environment.

Organic waste represents up to 40% of all waste currently sent for disposal. The ministry continues to work toward the long-term target of 75% of BC’s population being covered by organic waste disposal restrictions by 2020.


Untreated and Unprocessed Wood Residuals

The ministry intends to amend the definition of untreated and unprocessed wood to include wood shavings, sawdust, wood chips, hog fuel, bark and mill ends” and will include clean wood from construction and demolition sources. Treated wood will be excluded from the proposed definition of untreated and unprocessed wood.

Domestic Septic Tank Sludge

The OMRR currently allows composting of unstabilized “domestic septic tank sludge” within provisions of the OMRR. However, it does not enable composting of other unstabilized (i.e., untreated) domestic sewage sludge.

The ministry intends to amend Schedule 12 of the OMRR to include domestic composting toilet sludge as “sludge removed from a composting toilet used for receiving and treating domestic sewage.” The broader category of unstabilized (i.e., untreated) domestic sewage sludge is not intended to be defined or included in Schedule 12 of the OMRR.

Paper and Cardboard

At present the OMRR does not contain provisions for composting of “paper and cardboard.” Enabling this material to be categorized as organic matter suitable for composting under the OMRR could provide an additional feedstock for composting and support operation of composting facilities. In addition, paper and cardboard contaminated with organic food waste (and that is not acceptable for paper recycling) could be recycled as compost and this could support landfill disposal restrictions. The ministry intends to amend Schedule 12 of the OMRR to include paper and cardboard that cannot be reasonably recycled into a paper product and is not contaminated with any substance harmful to humans, animals, plants or the environment.

Compostable Plastic

The ministry intends to add compostable plastic to schedule 12 as organic matter suitable for composting. The definition of compostable plastic will be based on a review of industry standards and practices, including those promoted by the Compost Council of Canada.

Other proposed amendments include:

·       Ensuring composting facilities have best practices to manage and store material.

·       Provisions for composting facilities designed to produce 5000 or greater tonnes of finished compost per year with respect to a “facility environmental management plan” and require that all plans, reports and specifications be submitted to the ministry within a specified time frame.

·       Addition of new maximum allowable standards for chromium and copper for Class A Biosolids as well as consideration for other emerging substances of concern from personal care products, pharmaceuticals, flame retardants and endocrine disrupting compounds, legacy organics including dioxins, furans, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols and phthalates.

·       Land application rates for soil amendments.

·       Enabling the designated representative to issue permits or approvals on a site-specific basis for mine site reclamations or landfill closures.

·       Notification requirements for composting facilities that would be made public.

·       Submission of land application plans, disclosure requirements with respects to biosolids.

·       Requirements for sampling, monitoring and record keeping with respect to land applications of composted material.

·       Notifications to First Nations communities for composting facilities (at least 90 days before beginning operations) and at least 30 days prior to land application.


·       Allows additional material (wood shavings, sawdust, wood chips, hog fuel, bark and mill ends, compostable plastics, paper, cardboard etc.) to be composted that will reduce the load on our landfills;

·       Increased clarity in terms of standards to be met for composted material, land application rates, additional requirements for sampling, monitoring and record keeping with respect to land application of composted material;

·       Notification requirements, compliance monitoring, reporting and ensuring consistency with other regulations including the BC Contaminated Sites Regulation and the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation.

·       Increased public transparency with respect to composting facilities and land applications of composted material.


The Environment Team members discussed these changes and the team is in support of the proposed changes to the regulation due to the benefits outlined previously. The proposed changes to the regulation will help divert a major quantity of materials into composting facilities that would have otherwise ended into landfills. The proposed changes provide for the following which are key to encourage composting of material within the province.

·       opportunities for increased public transparency;

·       notification requirements for First Nations;

·       improved facilitation of organics recycling; and,

·       increased clarity regarding regulatory requirements.