Part E: Streamlined approvals process for small research and development projects


1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this guidance is to provide details of a streamlined approvals process that will apply to individuals, organizations, and entities researching and developing an innovative waste technology in Ontario. If the criteria set out in this guide are satisfied for a research and development proposal, applicants may be eligible for a streamlined approvals process to obtain an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) for their proposal, provided that all of the necessary technical requirements are also met.

1.2 Background

A research and development project typically aims to prove the viability of a project idea through:

  • testing of a proposed technology or a process or equipment
  • establishing baseline performance data
  • monitoring of the environmental performance and/or quality

Generally these projects have reduced potential for adverse environmental impacts, are small in scale, involve low amounts of materials being tested and are short in duration, such as a couple weeks to 12 months.

General technology readiness

  1. Proof of concept
  2. Research and development
  3. Commercialization

Research and development projects occur after proof of concept and before commercialization.

1.3 Key features

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (ministry) has introduced a streamlined approvals process so applicants can quickly and simply obtain an ECA for small-scale research and development projects that would otherwise be subject to the standard approvals process. The research and development project will need to meet all of the following criteria and participate in a mandatory pre-submission consultation meeting with the ministry before the ministry will allow an application to be submitted through a streamlined process for obtaining an ECA:

  • small in scale
  • limited quantity testing of waste
  • limited duration
  • environmental impacts effectively managed

Information about each of these qualifiers is provided in this guide.

Streamlined application form

The ministry has introduced a streamlined application form and list of supporting documentations and technical requirements to help applicants prepare and submit focused and relevant documents. The application form is available for use.

Prioritize technical review

As part of this streamlined process, it is the ministry’s intent to make a three-month commitment on the technical review and issuance of an ECA once a complete application is received, providing there are no issues during the review. Only the time when the ministry is carrying out the required review of the proposal and preparation of the ECA are counted for the purposes of calculating this three-month period.

2. Legislative framework

A research and development project that involves handling, treatment, processing, disposal, storage or transferring of waste is subject to various legislative and regulatory requirements.

2.1 Environmental Protection Act

An individual, organization or other entity proposing to operate a small-scale waste management research project in Ontario may be subject to ECA requirements depending on their proposed activities. If an ECA is required, consideration should also be given to timing for project-related construction. To see if an ECA is required, please refer to:

Other ministry approval and/or permitting requirements may also apply.

2.1.1 Regulation 347 and municipal waste pilot project sites

Section 5.0.1 of Regulation 347 under the Environmental Protection Act defines a “municipal waste pilot project site” and specific regulatory requirements pertaining to ECAs for such a site. Review section 5.0.1 and the definitions of “municipal waste” and “municipal waste pilot project” in Regulation 347 to determine if section 5.0.1 of the regulation applies to your application.  If your project is also a municipal waste pilot project per section 5.0.1 of Regulation 347 then the legislative framework for municipal waste pilot projects applies. A project that meets both the definition in section 5.0.1 and the criteria in this Guide, is eligible for this streamlined process. Refer to section 5.0.1 of Regulation 347 for the applicable requirements.

2.2 Environmental Assessment Act

Projects that meet the definition of “research undertaking” in Regulation 334 under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) are exempt from section five of the EAA. Section 11(1) of Regulation 334defines a “research undertaking” as “an undertaking that is carried out for the purpose of or that consists of research” and defines “research” as including “measuring, monitoring and testing”. When a research and development project meets this definition, an environmental assessment is not required.

2.3 Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993

Proposals that are classified as Class II for the purposes of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR) require public notification. Almost all applications for an ECA are considered Class II proposals and therefore subject to the requirements of the EBR (see Ontario Regulation 681/94 made under the EBR).

EBR exemption related to EAA

The EBR exempts certain proposals from the public posting requirements. Section 22 of the EBR which requires public notice of classified instrument does not apply where, in the minister’s opinion, the issuance, amendment or revocation of an instrument would be a step towards implementing an undertaking approved by a decision made under the EAA, or that has been exempted by a regulation under the EAA (EBR, subsections 32 (1) and 32 (2)).

Applicants will be required to provide information explaining why they believe the instrument they are applying for relates to an undertaking that has been exempted from the requirements of the EAA, and may thus be exempt from posting under the EBR. After reviewing these reasons, the minister or his/her delegate will decide if the exemption applies.

2.4 Other requirements

Research and development projects may also require other approvals and/or permits from the provincial or federal government, local municipalities or conservation authorities. It is the responsibility of the applicant to determine what other regulatory requirements may apply to the proposal and to ensure that any such legal requirements are met prior to proceeding with the proposed project.

3. Streamlined approvals process

3.1 Key criteria

Scale and dimension

This streamlined process is intended to apply to research and development projects that have a small footprint, require minimal storage of waste at the site/facility (including trucks needed to transfer waste) and generally have low potential for adverse environmental impacts. To qualify for the streamlined process your research and development project must fall within the following thresholds for both design capacity and storage capacity:

Process design capacity is no more than:

  • 5 cubic metres per day for liquid industrial or liquid waste or hazardous waste or any combination of;
  • 5 metric tonnes per day for solid hazardous or non-hazardous waste or any combination of;
  • 1,300 cubic metres per year or 1,300 metric tonnes per year of any waste type; or
  • a combination of liquid industrial or liquid waste or hazardous waste and solid hazardous and/or non-hazardous waste with a combined capacity of no more than 5 cubic metres per day, 5 metric tonnes per day or 1,300 cubic metres per year or 1,300 metric tonnes per year

Maximum storage capacity is not greater than:

  • 5 cubic metres for either liquid industrial or liquid waste or hazardous waste at any one time;
  • 5 tonnes for solid hazardous or non-hazardous waste at any one time; or
  • a combination of liquid industrial and/or liquid waste and/or hazardous waste and/or solid hazardous and/or non-hazardous waste with a combined capacity of no more than 5 cubic metres or 5 metric tonnes at any one time

Calculations demonstrating the process design capacity and waste storage capacity and location (indoor/outdoor) must be included with the application. For example, calculations to show the proposed storage location has enough capacity to store maximum of 5 m3 or 5 tonnes of waste(s) or a combination of both at the site. Applicants will also need to identify the maximum time period that the waste will be stored to ensure there is enough capacity for the waste and describe how the residual waste will be disposed of, including if the trial is not successful. For research and development projects that will take place at an existing waste site/facility, the applicants should also indicate in their application if the storage capacity is in an existing area or is proposed additional storage.

Waste types

There is no limitation on the type of waste that can be the subject of research and development activities and includes municipal waste, hazardous waste as well as gaseous waste. Depending on the type of waste, additional regulatory requirements in addition to the requirement for an EA, may apply.


A defined length of operation for the research and development project will need to be identified in the application. Research and development proposals can typically last from a few months to one full year. Research and development activities that are proposed to last longer than one year will require appropriate justification and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and an approval may be provided for a longer period at the Director’s discretion.

Potential environmental impacts

Potential environmental impacts will need to be assessed during the research and development project, as well as necessary design and operational controls to limit any environmental impacts arising from the trial. Given this, within the application the, applicants should:

  • demonstrate knowledge of contaminants to monitor for during research
  • identify potential controls or best management practices to prevent discharges and mitigate any discharges should they occur
  • identify any contingency measures to control potential emergencies and spills

Measuring, monitoring and testing

Measuring, monitoring and testing elements of the research and development project are key to determining the success of the proposal and understanding environmental impacts and/or the effectiveness of proposed environmental controls. These actions are critical to validating the research and development proposal hypotheses, including establishing relationships between inputs and outputs and operating parameters and the potential end-uses and/or end-market or disposal options for the outputs. Information on these plans will be required to be submitted for how the project is measured, monitored and tested.

3.2 Overview of streamlined process

Stage 1: Mandatory pre-submission meeting to verify applicability

A pre-submission meeting is required to confirm if you are eligible for this streamlined application process. Before asking for a meeting, assess the proposal against the research and development project criteria set out in this guide.

If you feel you are eligible, you can get a pre-submission meeting request form by sending an email to

Once a complete form is received, the ministry will schedule a pre-submission meeting.

To prepare for a pre-submission meeting, the applicant should review the questions in Appendix A and be prepared to speak to these questions in the meeting to help us verify if the streamlined approvals process applies.

If enough detail is provided, the ministry may indicate at the pre-submission meeting whether the proposal qualifies for the streamlined approvals process. Where insufficient information is provided, the ministry may require additional information and/or follow-up meeting(s) before indicating whether a proposal qualifies.

Stage 2: Completion of a research and development application form

If the ministry confirms the streamlined process applies your proposal, the streamlined Environmental Compliance Approval application for small research and development projects can be completed. This form is a shorter version of the existing EA application form. Ensure you include a clear description of the applicant’s plan to construct and operate during the research and development project. The form includes the following sections:

  • Section 1 applicant information
  • Section 2 project information
  • Section 3 site information
  • Section 4 regulatory requirements
  • Section 5 facility type and required information
  • Section 6 statement of the applicant
  • Section 7 payment information

Please note that incomplete applications will not be reviewed and will be returned.

The application form and guide provide guidance on how to complete the research and development application form and prepare a complete application package.

If you have any questions about completing the application form, please contact the Client Services and Permissions Branch by phone at 416-314-8001 or 1-800-461-6290 or by e-mail at

Stage 3: Ministry completes review

Each application is screened for completeness once received by the ministry.

Complete applications will be reviewed by technical reviewers and will include concurrent application reviews for the affected media (e.g. air, noise, wastewater), as required. Any requests for follow up information will be made to the applicant.

Provided there is no additional input or technical information required, an ECA will be issued (or refused) within three months of a completed application being accepted. If approved, an ECA (with multi-media terms and conditions, if applicable), will be issued to the applicant.

The ECA will include specific terms and conditions that must be adhered to by the applicant. Such conditions typically relate to the type of waste and storage, the size, expiry of the ECA, and environmental monitoring and/or reporting.

Appendix A: Pre-submission meeting preparation questions

Pre-submission meetings are mandatory for applicants who are seeking a streamlined approvals process for their research and development project.

This mandatory pre-submission meeting allows the ministry to determine if the project is eligible for a streamlined approvals process. The questions below will help you prepare for your meeting. Be prepared to speak to these questions in as much detail as possible during a pre-submission meeting with the ministry.

Technology1. Describe the technology/equipment/processes to be evaluated, how it is/has been used. Is there any existing data on its use?
General2. Describe the current and proposed land uses. Does the current zoning and plan designation permit the proposed activity?
General3. Describe the location of the facility where the research will take place, including its distance to its nearest sensitive receptors (such as, within 1 km of property boundary, residential area, schools, hotel, residence, place of worship or hospital).
General4. Is the proposed activity located or planned to be located in a vulnerable area identified in a local assessment report or source protection plan under the Clean Water Act, 2006?
General5. Is the activity being applied for identified as a significant drinking water threat in the assessment report for the local source protection area?
General6. Describe the monitoring program for and testing plan for unintended discharges and fugitive emissions.
General7. What are the proposed hours of operation for the research and development project (hours and days per week)?
General8. Is the proposed project/activity adjacent or close to a First Nation Reserve? Is the applicant aware of any concerns from Indigenous communities about this proposed project/activity?
Waste9. What are the type(s) of waste associated with the proposed research and development project (refer to Regulation 347 for waste types)?
Waste10. What are the processing and storage capacities for each type of waste?
Waste11. How and where will the waste be received, stored, treated and disposed of?
Waste12. How will the waste be inspected and confirmed to be acceptable for receipt?
Waste13. What is the batch size/processing rate and the total amount of waste in storage prior to processing? Where and how will the pre-processing waste be stored?
Waste14. What are the expected outputs? What are the expected processed/residual waste streams?
Air (if there is no discharge of contaminant(s) to the natural environment or emissions are contained indoors/enclosed space, this section is not applicable)15. What is the initial list of emissions, air pollution sources and contaminants from the facility?
Air16. Indicate if there are any fans and vents and where they discharge and if they are process fans or HVAC (indoor/outdoor).
Air17. Describe equipment that may emit odour and discharges to the natural environment, and the best management practices and controls that will be employed to minimize these emissions/discharges?
Air18. What is the expected number of hours per day of contaminant discharge to natural environment?
Noise (if there are no sources of noise and vibration, this section is not applicable)19. What are the significant noise and vibration sources and proposed mitigation measures?
Sewage effluent discharge (if there are no anticipated effluent discharge, this section is not applicable)20. Is there any outdoor storage or processing of waste?
Sewage effluent discharge21. If there is effluent discharge from the processes, how will the effluent be handled (collected/contained), treated and/or disposed of? Where will effluent be discharged? For example, to storm sewer, sanitary sewer, natural environment, or stored and transported by licensed hauler to approved disposal facility?
Sewage effluent discharge22. Will there be any contact between waste(s) and stormwater generated on-site? For example, stormwater contact with waste, outdoor storage material or truck traffic. If yes, how will the contact stormwater be managed and/or treated (stormwater management pond, oil/grit interceptor, pH dosing, etc.) and how will stormwater be disposed of (storm sewer, ditch, surface water.)