In our ongoing effort to represent our members in supporting environmental stewardship through the beneficial use of biosolids, our Regulations Development Committee recently provided Northwest Biosolids’ comment on the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation Policy Intentions Paper to the BC Ministry of Environment that you can access here.
This past spring, the BC Ministry of Environment announced a review of the BC Organic Matter Recycling Regulation (OMRR) https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016ENV0017-000513 to ensure the regulation remains protective of human health and the environment. In October, an OMRR Policy Intentions Paper was released https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016ENV0053-001877 inviting comments on the proposals outlined by December 2nd, as part of the Ministry’s stakeholder consultation process. Notable proposed regulatory revisions outlined in the Intentions Paper include increased public transparency, additional requirements around land application of biosolids and compost, and consideration of addition of new standards (e.g., emerging substances of concern).
The OMRR governs the construction and operation of composting facilities; and, the production, distribution, sale, storage, use, and land application of biosolids and compost in BC. The regulation was developed over a five-year period and enacted in 2002 under the authority of the Public Health Act and the Environmental Management Act. Regulatory development occurred with the input and support of local governments, recycling groups, Agricultural Land Commission, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and industry sectors such as agriculture and forestry, as well as with the active participation of Medical Health Officers. The OMRR criteria and requirements were adopted from pre-existing legislation in BC and Canada, as well as from the work done in developing the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Part 503 rule.
The OMRR contains a provision that the Ministry evaluate the regulation within three years of coming into force “to determine if any modifications are appropriate based on advances in science, law and the management of organic matter” (Government of British Columbia, 2002). To date, amendments to the OMRR have included additional feedstocks acceptable for composting, adding a requirement for composting facilities that process food waste and biosolids to have a permit, and clarifying minor points in the regulation. Amendments to the BC Organic Matter Recycling Regulation are of significant interest to all our members, as regulations from other countries can influence how other nations may consider customizing regulatory standards in the future.