T-4- 112 – By-products and other "Waste-derived" materials sold as fertilizers or supplements

The 3 year regulatory transition period (October 26, 2020 to October 26, 2023) has now ended. As a result, regulated parties, including all manufacturers, importers, distributors and sellers of fertilizers and supplements must adhere to the amended Fertilizers Regulations. There are few notable exceptions for some product categories. Learn more about the implementation of the amended Fertilizers Regulations.

1. Purpose

The purpose of this document is to outline information and registration requirements (if applicable) for fertilizers and supplements containing and/or derived from plant and animal by-products and/or industrial wastes under the Fertilizers Act and Regulations.

Products covered by this Trade Memorandum may include: plant and animal by-products, extracts, industrial wastes, anaerobic digestates, municipal biosolids, etc.

2. Standards and registration

All fertilizer and supplement products must meet the general safety standards as out lined in Trade Memorandum T-4-93 with respect to ingredients, compositional criteria and potential contaminants of concern. Some products (especially those containing, produced by or derived from living organisms) require registration under the Fertilizers Act prior to importation and sale in Canada. This applies irrespective of the product's end-use pattern (home and garden vs. farm applications). For more information on which products require registration and which are exempt from pre-market assessment please consult the Registration Triggers. Unless the product is explicitly exempt from registration (either because it appears on the List of Primary Fertilizer and Supplement Materials or meets another exemption from registration) the final fertilizer or supplement product requires registration.

3. Information and data requirements

The information that must be provided to enable the assessment of by-products and other "waste-derived" materials sold as (in) fertilizers or supplements is outlined in the Guide to Submitting Applications for Registration under the Fertilizers Act. Registration submission requirements specific to individual product types can also be found in the applicable submission checklists.

In the case of waste-derived materials, particular focus will be placed on:

  1. identification and description of the product's constituent material(s) derived from the specific waste stream used;
  2. the product label;
  3. the intended action of the product (for example provides plant nutrients or acts as a supplement), and the recommended rates and methods of application;
  4. the content of plant nutrients in the product or other active ingredients or essential components which account for its activity/benefits. Applications should specify, if known, the form in which these ingredients occur;
  5. description of the industrial or manufacturing process from which the product and each constituent by-product or "waste-derived" material(s) is obtained. Note: a flow-chart diagram of this process facilitates the CFIA's review and is preferred.
    • include a description of feedstock for the process, any chemicals or materials added throughout the pathway of the process, and any transformations these undergo as a result of the process
    • identify the point(s) during the process at which the product or the by-product or "waste" is generated
  6. scientific reports (if available) on the human, plant, animal or environmental safety of the product or its constituent materials, and on their environmental fate;
  7. current uses of the material (if any) including agricultural and/or industrial uses;
  8. any other information related to the potential safety of the product (for example, related to by-products, degradation products or contaminants associated with the industrial process from which a by-product is generated);
  9. disclosure of the list of ingredients that present a risk of harm to the health of Any human or animal that do not appear on the label as required by the Regulations.

4. Labelling

Labelling requirements for all fertilizers and supplements including those containing by-products and waste-derived materials are outlined in Trade Memorandum T-4-130 – Labeling requirements for fertilizers and supplements.

4.1 Precautionary statements

According to the Regulations any fertilizer or supplement (other than a customer-formula fertilizer) may be required to have a statement on the label setting out any precaution that is necessary to mitigate a risk of harm to human, animal or plant health or the environment (other than pest). This may include allergenicity statements.

If the fertilizer or supplement is or contains prohibited material as defined in subsection 162(1) of the Health of Animals Regulations, statements are required to indicate that:

  1. feeding the fertilizer or supplement to cattle, sheep, deer or other ruminants is prohibited and punishable under the Health of Animals Act,
  2. the fertilizer or supplement is not to be used on pasture land or other grazing areas for ruminants,
  3. the fertilizer or supplement is not to be ingested, and
  4. a person must wash their hands after they use the fertilizer or supplement.

4.2 Ash products

As specified in the regulations, any product represented to be a material set out in the  List of Primary Fertilizer and Supplement Materials must meet the definition in that list. Therefore, the term 'ash' may only be used if a product meets the definition (or has an ingredient that meets the definition) as provided in the list of materials. Recognizing that materials commonly known as ash may not meet the prescribed definition, it is permitted to describe or name these products as 'ashed (source material, designated as to kind)'. For example, if a wood ash product does not meet the definition of ash, the product may not be represented as 'wood ash', but may be referred to, or named: 'ashed wood'.

5. Application to land and disposal

Use (including application to land) and disposal are regulated by provincial and municipal jurisdictions therefore additional requirements and restrictions may apply. Please contact the appropriate authority in your area for further information. Note: products that are not sold (given away) or are generated on premises and applied to the same land do not fall under the purview of the Fertilizers Act.

6. Requirements other than those under the Fertilizers Act and Regulations

In addition to the requirements under the Fertilizers Act and Regulations, other federal rules may apply to the import, export, distribution or sale of waste-derived materials and by-products.

For importation, the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) should be consulted in advance.

6.1 Plant Protection Act and Regulations

The CFIA establishes and maintains policies and standards, under the authority of the Plant Protection Act and Regulations, relating to the importation and domestic movement of soil and related matter which includes humus, compost, earthworm castings, muck, plant litter, debris and peat moss to prevent the introduction and spread of regulated pests into Canada. Please refer to the CFIA's Soil and soil-related matter website for additional information about phytosanitary requirements that may apply to a specific activity.

6.2 Health of Animals Act and Regulations

The Health of Animals Act and Regulations provide the legislative and regulatory authority for the animal health import program for animal products and by-products. Please refer to CFIA's Animal, animal products and by-product imports website for additional information about requirements that may apply to a specific activity.

7. Contact information

For further information on the above data requirements, please contact:

Fertilizer Safety Section
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Phone: 1-855-212-7695
Email: cfia.paso-bpdpm.acia@inspection.gc.ca