Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts

Chemicals Control Branch, Pollution Prevention Directorate, Environment Canada


More than mere advantages to the environment
The Canadian northern climate, with its periods of frost and snowfalls, is a continuous challenge for authorities in charge of ensuring free-flowing and safe traffic on Canadian winter roads. On average, five million tons of road salts are spread from coast to coast each year. While our current operating procedures provide the means for winter road safety, we may ask ourselves whether traditional practices for road salt management are the best ones or not.

The Code of practice - As the result of a scientific assessment carried out under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999), an assessment report published December 1, 2001 concluded that road salt discharges were harmful to the environment and its ecosystems. The conclusions of this report gave rise to the Code of practice for the environmental management of road salts, which came into force in April 2004. This Code is a tool that was purposely developed by Environment Canada and road authorities across Canada to safeguard the environment. Its main objective is to provide environmental protection while maintaining road safety. It is intended for organizations that use over 500 tons of road salts each year and organizations that include on their territories sensitive area which could be affected by road salts.

Advantages of adhering to the Code
Once enforced, Code recommendations will not only be profitable to the environment, but they could also include advantages for road authorities, such as more efficient operations and savings in equipment use. Environment Canada published several case studies showing the environmental and financial benefits brought about by the improvement of road salt management practices. The Code of practice for the environmental management of road salts features a simple and flexible alternative that you can adapt to the reality of your organization for greater benefits.

Following Recommendations
The Code of practice recommendations correspond to four steps that are highly adaptable to each organization. Table 1 summarizes each one of these steps.


For more information
To obtain additional information or receive reference material on road salt management, please write to Environment Canada at or contact one of the following regional offices:

Atlantic Provinces
Tel. (902) 426-9590

Tel. (514) 283-4670

Prairie Provinces, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories
Tel. (780) 951-8890

Tel. (416) 739-5872

British Columbia
Tel. (604) 666-9862

Tel. (867) 667-3402


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