Waste and greenhouse gases: Canada’s actions

When organic wastes – such as food, yard and paper – are disposed in landfills, they produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. This process occurs over many years, which means that the methane generated in landfills today is the result of decades of disposal of organic waste.

According to Canada's Greenhouse Gas Inventory, in 2020:

  • Emissions from Canadian landfills account for 23% of national methane emissions.
  • About 1,401 kilotonnes (kt) of methane were generated, 418 kt were recovered and 885 kt of methane (equivalent to 22 Mt CO2) were emitted.
  • Of the recovered methane used to create energy, 52% was used to generate low-carbon electricity, 17% to produce renewable natural gas and 30% was used directly at a nearby facility.

For an overview of how landfill methane emissions in Canada are estimated, please consult the National inventory report: greenhouse gas sources and sinks in Canada.

Technical Guidance on Estimating, Monitoring and Measuring Landfill Methane

Environment and Climate Change Canada has developed resources to support efforts to estimate, measure and monitor methane at landfills in Canada. A technical guidance document provides information on both established and emerging approaches. A modelling tool is also available that allows users to estimate methane generation at a landfill and view the impact of diverting organic waste on future methane generation.

The Technical Guidance Document on Estimating, Measuring and Monitoring Landfill Methane and the Landfill Methane Modelling Tool are available upon request. Please send an e-mail to ges-dechets-ghg-waste@ec.gc.ca to obtain these resources.

Reducing landfill methane emissions

By installing landfill gas management systems, methane is recovered before it can be emitted to the atmosphere. The recovered landfill gas is either flared (burned) or used to create low-carbon energy. There are over 100 landfills in Canada that have systems in place to recover landfill gas.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) maintains a Landfill Gas Inventory which includes:

  • open landfills with a waste capacity greater than 100,000 tonnes and that receive more than 500 tonnes of municipal solid waste per year
  • closed landfills with at least 450,000 tonnes of waste in place.

Information about these landfills, including their landfill gas utilization status, is available on request by emailing ges-dechets-ghg-waste@ec.gc.ca.

Organic waste reduction and diversion

Diverting organic waste away from landfills and processing it at composting or anaerobic digestion facilities avoids the generation of landfill methane and extends the lifespan of the landfill.

Composting includes everything from backyard composters to large facilities that turn food waste, yard and garden waste and other organic wastes into compost that can be used as a soil amendment.

Anaerobic digestion is an industrial process that is used to convert food and other organic waste into biogas (a methane rich gaseous mixture that can replace the use of fossil fuels and fossil based energy) and a nutrient-rich soil amendment.

Find out more about these organic waste management technologies through the Technical Document on Municipal Solid Waste Organics Processing.

Of course, reducing the amount of food waste created in the first place makes the most of the energy and resources that go into growing and producing food, reduces the amount of waste that needs to be managed, and reduces landfill methane emissions.

Learn more about how we can reduce Food loss and waste.

Find out more about the ways waste management can impact GHG emissions by using the GHG Calculator for Organic Waste Management


Recovered landfill gas and biogas generated from organic waste can be utilized to:

  • generate electricity
  • produce renewable natural gas
  • fuel industries
  • heat buildings

The energy from biogas can replace non-renewable sources of energy such as coal, oil, or natural gas. The material remaining after the digestion process is called digestate. It is rich in nutrients and is used to fertilize soils, increasing the organic matter content and reducing the use of synthetic fertilizers.

Canada’s actions to reduce landfill methane emissions


The Strengthened Climate Plan – A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy committed to develop new federal landfill methane regulations to increase the number of landfills that recover and flare or utilize landfill gas.

Find out more about the ongoing engagement on reducing methane emissions from Canada’s municipal solid waste landfills.

Greenhouse Gas Offset Credits

Under the Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System Regulations, a greenhouse gas (GHG) offset protocol has been published for landfill gas recovery and destruction projects. Eligible projects will be able to generate revenue for landfill owners and project developers.

Find out more about the landfill methane recovery and destruction protocol.

Clean Fuel Standard

In addition to increasing the demand and revenue potential for low-carbon fuels (such as renewable natural gas produced at landfills or anaerobic digestion facilities), the Clean Fuel Standard provides opportunities for non-regulated parties to create credits.

Funding programs

Emerging approaches for reducing landfill methane emissions

ECCC is accepting applications for funding to conduct pilot tests of emerging monitoring technologies that can help reduce methane emissions at landfills. Projects will consist of the installation, operation and evaluation of emerging technologies for monitoring landfill methane, including:

  • drone-based measurement systems that can identify methane hotspots and leaks and/or quantify the total site emission rate
  • continuous methane monitoring systems that generate real-time continuous methane emissions data
  • automated wellfield monitoring and tuning systems that can be added to existing landfill gas collection systems to maximize efficiency
  • other monitoring technologies that will assist in measuring methane emissions from landfills, identifying emissions sources or leaks, or improving landfill gas collection efficiency

Find out more about this fund.

Other funding programs

Although not specific to the waste sector, projects that research or take action to avoid or reduce methane emissions from landfills or create low-carbon energy or fuels from waste may be eligible under several federal funding programs, including:

International engagement

In October 2021, Canada confirmed support for the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to reduce global methane emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030 through focused efforts in the energy, agriculture, and waste sectors.

The Global Methane Initiative (GMI) is an international partnership dedicated to reducing methane emissions, as well as to the recovery and use of methane as a clean energy source. Canada is co-chair of the GMI Biogas Sector Subcommittee, which includes agriculture, municipal solid waste, and wastewater technical groups.

Contact us

Waste Reduction and Management Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 Saint-Joseph Boulevard
Gatineau QC  K1A 0H3
Email: ges-dechets-ghg-waste@ec.gc.ca

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