Waste management


Imperial recognizes the importance of properly managing waste to minimize potential impact to the environment while using resources more efficiently. Our waste strategy begins with avoiding the generation of waste where possible. Where this is not possible, we work to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste and if practical treat waste to reduce volumes requiring disposal.

To help ensure waste from our operations is managed responsibly, all process waste generated from our facilities must be managed at Imperial-audited third-party facilities to minimize potential safety, health and environmental concerns associated with disposal.

Year-over-year, the amount of waste we generate varies depending on annual maintenance requirements. However, we continually investigate and evaluate opportunities to reduce the waste we generate or find better ways to manage it. Recent initiatives include:

  • 2021 program to recycle mine truck tires at Kearl resulted in 501 tires or 2,320 tonnes of rubber being recycled and made into camp and site walkways among other products.
  • Identified opportunity to send caustic waste from Ontario refineries to be used as feedstock for other industries, including in the manufacturing process at paper mills. This resulted in reusing more than 2,700 tonnes of hazardous chemical waste – that’s almost 10 per cent of total hazardous waste disposed from our operations in 2021.
  • Transitioned from paper to electronic waste manifests at our Cold Lake operations and we are looking to expand the initiative across our assets. Once fully implemented, we anticipate the program could eliminate approximately 2 million pages annually.
  • In addition to efficiently managing waste within our operations, we are also focused on supporting the reduction of waste associated with the products we sell. Imperial is a supplier of ExxonMobil lubricants and since 2018, ExxonMobil’s global network of lubricants blending and packaging plants has earned a Zero Waste to Landfill Silver validation from Underwriters Laboratories. ExxonMobil is the first petroleum products company to achieve this validation.1

Advanced recycling – plastics

Plastics are an essential part of modern life, but they are also a valuable resource that all too often gets wasted. Recycling plastic waste back into raw materials that can be used to make valuable products could help address the challenge of plastic waste in the environment.

Plastic waste is a global problem that requires collaboration, supportive public policy and significant investment in waste management facilities to increase the supply of materials that can be recycled within the supply chain. In 2021, Imperial joined the Council of the Great Lakes Region, Circular Great Lakes initiative that is working with partners to develop circular-economy strategies for plastics in the Great Lakes region.

Imperial is positioned well through our integrated fuels and chemicals business, to support recycling initiatives using advanced recycling technologies. Advanced recycling involves breaking down plastic waste to its molecular building blocks and effectively transforming the plastic waste into the raw material that can be used in the process of making virgin-quality plastics and other valuable products.

Imperial believes advanced recycling is a necessary complement to mechanical recycling to help address the plastic waste challenge. Advanced recycling helps to remove contaminants and can accommodate a broader range of plastic waste than conventional recycling technologies. Imperial is assessing the use of advanced recycling at our Sarnia facility to process an initial capacity of 30,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year.


1Silver Validation for Zero Waste, ExxonMobil Aviation.