Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

Backgrounder – Canada-wide standard on Dioxins and Furans: Conical Waste Combustion of Municipal Waste

Dioxins and furans are toxic, persistent, bioaccumulative, and emissions from human activity are of concern. For these reasons, dioxins and furans are slated for virtual elimination in Canada.

Conical Waste Combustion of Municipal Waste

There are approximately 45 conical waste combustors that operate in Newfoundland and Labrador, which is the only province that uses this disposal method for municipal waste. These combustors account for estimated annual releases of 44g of dioxins and furans to the atmosphere, or 27 percent of the national total of dioxins and furans emissions to the atmosphere documented in a 2001 inventory of releases in Canada.

The rugged topography and isolated nature of many communities in Newfoundland and Labrador has presented waste disposal challenges in many parts of the province. Compared to landfilling, conical waste combustors conserve soil which would otherwise be required as cover material in landfills, and which is in limited supply in the province. Since the 1990's, conical waste combustors have been approved for use only where alternative methods of
waste disposal were not feasible.

While modern municipal waste incinerators employ sophisticated and effective emission controls, conical waste combustors use only screens to capture some of the larger particulate matter they emit. Due to the design of the combustors, emission controls are not a feasible option for reducing releases of dioxins and furans.

The Canada-wide standard (CWS) on conical waste combustion of Municipal Waste will phase out the operation of conical waste combustors in Newfoundland and Labrador, and prevent the operation of new facilities elsewhere in Canada. The phase-out strategy will also result in reduced mercury emissions.

Newfoundland and Labrador will implement a waste management strategy to achieve the phase-out. The goals of the strategy include waste diversion, large scale composting facilities and province-wide modern waste management. It places a strong emphasis on identifying and implementing pollution prevention opportunities as well as minimizing overall environmental impacts.

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to phasing out existing conical waste combustors by 2008.

The CWS on conical waste combustion of municipal waste is one of several standards to address atmospheric emissions of dioxins and furans. Others standards have been approved to address emissions from incineration, coastal pulp and paper boilers, iron sintering, and steel manufacturing electric arc furnaces. Additional details on these and other CWSs are available at: