Waste management hierarchy

Alberta must strive to achieve sustainable waste management practices. This is done in part by following the desired waste management hierarchy presented in 'Too Good to Waste', Alberta’s road map for waste reduction and management. The hierarchy emphasizes waste reduction as the most desirable option, followed by re-use, recycling, and finally disposal as the least desirable. Our challenge is to implement more desirable waste management strategies and work towards a zero-waste society.

Waste reduction

Waste reduction encourages the more effective use of natural resources and prevents the generation of waste in the first place. Reduction is at the top of the waste hierarchy as it is the most effective method of pollution prevention and is often the most cost-effective waste management option in the long term.

Waste reduction means using processes, practices, materials, or products that avoid or minimize the creation of waste or environmental disturbance, and reduce risk to human health or the environment.


This involves items being used again for the same or different purposes with the objective of long-term cost savings. Re-use is higher up the hierarchy than recycling as recycling often consumes energy and can produce residuals that require managing.


Value should be recovered through recycling, composting, refining, or other processes where appropriate. Energy recovery should only be considered for materials with high heat value and no recycling options.

The Government of Alberta regulates recycling (or stewardship) programs for beverage containers, tires, paint, electronics, and used oil materials.

Municipalities are responsible for the recycling services they offer to residents. For information on what you can recycle contact your municipality directly.

For more information on composting and energy recovery, see:

For more information on recycling see:


Landfilling, deep well injection and incineration without energy recovery are examples of alternatives when other options are not feasible. The disposal of waste in its final resting place means that there is no added value derived from the material. For more information on waste disposal see:


Funding for waste and recycling initiatives

The Government of Alberta does not provide grants or direct funding for waste and recycling initiatives. Alberta Environment and Parks encourages Albertans and businesses to take the initiative to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills.

The following resources are available for businesses seeking assistance with funding opportunities.

The Business Link has a variety of resources available, including potential funding sources for small and medium-sized businesses. It is a not-for-profit organization supported by the Government of Canada and Government of Alberta. Further information can be found at:

Community Futures is a not-for-profit organization guided by volunteer boards of directors and staffed with business professionals. They offer a variety of small business loan products. For more information, visit:

Alberta's Jobs, Economy and Innovation ministry works to grow the province’s economy, strengthen small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and promote economic stability. For more information, visit:

Additional Resources can be found at:

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