Landfills in Alberta
Landfilling is the most common method to dispose of waste in Alberta. Even though significant efforts are made to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much of the waste we produce, there is still a need for disposal facilities.
Alberta began regionalizing its municipal landfill system in the 1970s to transition the province from a system of small municipal "dumps" throughout the countryside to regional landfills with a network of transfer stations that would consolidate waste. This shift allowed for the cost-effective development of engineered landfill sites.
Modern landfills are engineered waste management facilities that are typically integrated with other activities such as organics management and collection sites for household hazardous waste, tires, white goods and other recyclable materials.
Landfills in Alberta are classified by the waste streams they can accept. There are three classes of landfills:
- Class I – Hazardous waste landfill
- Class II – Non-hazardous waste landfill
- Class III – Inert waste landfill
The Standards for Landfills in Alberta outline the minimum requirements for development, operation, monitoring, closure and post-closure of Class I, Class II, and Class III landfills. The Standards are intended to provide public assurance regarding the protection of groundwater and surface water, and the appropriate management of nuisances associated with landfill development.
The Guide to the Standards for Landfills in Alberta is currently being developed to assist landfill owners, operators, engineers, and others with the siting, design, operation, monitoring, closure, and post-closure of landfills in Alberta.
Some small landfills in suitable geological areas may also register under the Code of Practice for Landfills. However, these facilities are encouraged to use the Standards for Landfills in the development of the operations plan for ongoing monitoring and operation.
Approval and registration
This application form outlines the requirements under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) for Class II and Class III landfill proposals requiring either an approval or registration. This form should also be used to renew a previous approval, or to amend, add, or delete terms or conditions from an existing approval.
- Approval or Registration of a Class II or Class III Landfill under EPEA – Application Form (DOC, 265 KB)
For more information on the regulatory process for landfills, see detailed information on the approval process Apply for Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act approvals.
The Alberta Landfill Gas Working Group developed a guidance document to assist landfills in Alberta to quantify gas emissions through modelling
This landfill specified gas emission quantification guidance document will be recognized by Alberta Environment and Parks as the standardized method for landfill specified gas quantification until such time when standardized field quantification methods are approved in the future.
Guidance for Landfill Emissions Quantification
Landfills owners and operators should consult the following guidance document and supporting worksheets to quantify greenhouse gas emissions from their landfill operations.
- Technical Guidance for the Quantification of Specified Gas Emissions from Landfills
- Landfill with Gas Collection (XLS, 702 KB)
- Landfill with Partial Gas Collection (XLS, 1.4 MB)
- Landfill without Gas Collection (XLS, 1.3 MB)
For further information on emission offsets, please see:
Funds must be set aside by landfill owners to ensure that sites are reclaimed to a useful and productive state when operations conclude. Owners of waste management facilities (excluding on-site, Crown and local authority facilities) must provide financial security to the department before starting operations or reclaiming their facilities.
The Subdivision and Development Regulation (AR 43/2002) under the Municipal Government Act defines the setback distances required from a development for a residence, school, hospital, or food establishment to an operating landfill, non-operating landfill, waste storage site and hazardous waste management facilities.