Landfilling is a part of integrated solid waste management systems. Disposal of materials to a landfill is the least preferred management option in the waste management hierarchy after reduce, reuse, recycle and recovery options have been exhausted. However, even with high diversion rates landfills will continue to remain an essential component of solid waste management systems in order to deal with the wastes that cannot be practically removed from the waste stream.

Landfill Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste

Landfills should be carefully designed and managed to minimize risks to the public health and safety and to ensure environmental protection. To that end, the 'Landfill Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste' guidance document provides standards for siting, design, construction, operation and closure of Municipal Solid Waste landfills.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has developed the second edition of 'Landfill Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste' that builds on the original 1993 document. For the last two decades, Municipal Solid Waste landfill management has been an area of active research and innovation. The new Criteria outline ministry expectations for best management practices at landfills and provide more information for ministry staff and stakeholders to ensure clarity and consistency in regulatory approach across the province.

Contaminated soil landfilling 

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has developed new interim considerations for landfills that will begin accepting contaminated soils or those that want to increase the quantities of contaminated soils they currently accept. These considerations are in addition to those in existing guidance materials, including the Landfill Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW Landfill Criteria) and the Guidelines for Environmental Monitoring at Municipal Solid Waste Landfills. These considerations are based on the contaminated soils landfilling review that was conducted from July 2019 to January 2021. The long-term implementation process may include new policy, or changes to existing policy, following consultation with more opportunities for input. Note that landfills continue to require site-specific authorizations (permits, operational certificates, or approvals).

Landfill gas capture

The Landfill Gas Management Regulation establishes province-wide criteria for landfill gas capture from Municipal Solid Waste landfills. The regulation focuses on greenhouse gas emissions reductions from landfills with the objective of maximizing reductions of landfill gas emissions and identifying potential opportunities to increase landfill gas recovery. The regulations phases in new requirements for landfill gas (LFG) capture that takes into account economic and technical feasibility requirements and associated implications for landfill owners.

Environmental monitoring

An effective environmental monitoring program should be in place to ensure that landfills meet the performance criteria outlined in the Landfill Criteria.