Compost Use & Standards

Residential Compost

Compost produced in your backyard is for use on your own property. Therefore, it can be used at your own discretion. To avoid contaminating your compost with toxic chemicals or heavy metals, avoid plants that have been sprayed with pesticides and also avoid treated wood and printed paper.

Municipal and Commercially-produced Compost:

To protect public health and the environment, and to ensure product safety and quality, the Manitoba Composts Program requires that all municipal compost and all commercially-produced compost meet 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 the 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 essential to promote good composting practices, including monitoring and product analysis, to make sure the compost being produced is safe and healthy, and also 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.

Minimum requirements for compost quality are set by CCME Guidelines for Compost Quality, but ultimately, the quality of compost produced is best determined by the requirements of the final user of the material. Finished compost may require screening to remove large contaminates, such as plastic bags or stones, to recover un-composted bulking agents, like wood chips, or to meet desired market size.