Compost Use & Standards

Residential Compost

Compost produced in your backyard is for use on your own property at your own discretion. Consult resources such as the Compost Council of Canada for directions on how to apply compost.

Note that compostable products such as cups, bags, and take-out containers will not break down in a backyard compost. They must be processed at large, municipal or commercial compost sites where piles are large enough to produce the high levels of heat required to break these products down.

To avoid contaminating your compost with toxic chemicals or heavy metals, do not add plants sprayed with pesticides, treated or painted wood, or glossy coloured paper.

Municipal and Commercially-produced Compost:

To protect public health and the environment, and to ensure product safety and quality, municipal and commercially produced compost should meet parameters set out in the Canadian Council for Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Guidelines for Compost Quality (2005). These guidelines offer criteria for trace elements, foreign matter, maturity, stability, pathogens and organic contaminants in compost. If a municipality operates a licensed facility, it is required to have the compost tested and meet the CCME guidelines, before giving away or selling the compost.

In addition, to legally sell compost in Canada or import compost into Canada, either as a soil amendment or as a product with plant nutrient claims, it must meet the safety, efficacy and labelling standards summarized in the T-4-120-Regulation of Compost under the Fertilizers Act administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

It is important to promote good composting practices, and make sure the compost being produced is safe, healthy, and meets agronomic needs. Commercial composting facilities are encouraged to become a member of the Compost Quality Alliance (CQA) program. This is a voluntary program established by The Compost Council of Canada, to standardize testing methods and establish consistent operating protocols to improve customer confidence.