Canada - U.S.A. Agreement Each year, millions of tonnes of wastes are generated as by-products of industrial and municipal activities. Significant portions of these wastes contain toxic chemicals such as acids, phenols, arsenic, lead and mercury, which threaten health or the environment if improperly handled. Although it may be impossible to eliminate wastes entirely, efforts are being made to reduce their generation at the source, and to divert more towards recycling and recovery operations. Those wastes that still remain are managed through a variety of methods intended to reduce the environmental and human health risks. Some wastes are managed and disposed on-site; others are shipped off-site where they can be managed in an environmentally sound manner using such operations as physical, chemical, biological, or thermal treatment followed by disposal in a secure landfill site.
Canada and the United States both recognize the environmental and economic benefits of minimizing the distances that wastes must travel to reach such off-site facilities. As a result approximately 800,000 tonnes of hazardous wastes and over one million tonnes of non-hazardous wastes cross the Canada-U.S.A. border annually, on their way to nearby environmentally sound recovery, recycling, treatment or disposal facilities
This booklet contains the consolidated text of the 1986 “Agreement between the Government of Canada and Government of the United States of America Concerning the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste”, it’s 1992 amendment incorporating “other wastes”. Other wastes are defined to include Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) that is sent for final disposal or for incineration with energy recovery, and residues arising from the incineration of such waste, as defined by the Parties’ respective national legislation and implementing regulations, but excluding waste covered under paragraph (B) of the Article 1 of the Agreement. Article 1(b) defines hazardous waste. The Agreement sets out specific conditions for the export, import and transit of hazardous and other wastes between the two countries, and ensures that transboundary movements are handled safely and are exported and imported only to facilities that are authorized by importing jurisdiction. The original Agreement was signed by then Canadian Environment Minister and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator on October 28, 1986 and came into effect November 8, 1986. The agreement recognizes that for other wastes, an alternative tracking scheme may replace the manifest system used for hazardous wastes
The Agreement takes into account international recognized principles required to control the transboundary movement of waste, including that:
the exporting country agrees to provide the importing country with adequate and timely information prior to any proposed shipment, giving the importing country an opportunity to consent or object to such import;
the two countries agree to cooperate to ensure that transboundary movements are tracked from the point of origin to the final destination, in accordance with the Agreement and domestic laws and regulations;
the exporting country agrees to permit re-entry of any wastes that may be returned by the importing country; and,
the two countries agree to manage waste within their own jurisdiction, in accordance with their domestic laws and regulations.
Furthermore, since Canada is a Party to the Basel Convention, it believes that the Agreement, together with Canada’s supporting regulatory framework, is consistent with the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and its Article 11 that allows for bilateral, multilateral and regional agreements or arrangements, notwithstanding the Convention’s general prohibition on transboundary movements between Parties and non-Parties. By implementing these provisions and bilaterally reviewing them on a regular basis, the Agreement greatly contributes to the environmentally sound management of transboundary movement of wastes.
Both countries have regulations to implement the obligations under the Agreement as they pertain to hazardous wastes. Canada is in the process of developing regulations to address other wastes, that will obligate the Canadian regulated community to submit notifications containing the information in Article 3(b), which will then be forwarded to EPA for review and consent or objection as required by Article 3(c). The U.S. has not yet established requirements controlling imports or exports of other wastes.
Environment Canada and EPA are considering a new initiative to introduce an electronic tracking system (e-notice and e-manifest) for transboundary movements between Canada and the United States which will help to ensure faster and more efficient document processing while improving border security and environmentally sound management.
(Note: This is a consolidated text of the 1986 Agreement and its 1992 Amendment for public use only, and does not constitutes an “official” text)