A landfill is a facility that permanently disposes of refuse and other non-hazardous materials.
Before establishing a new landfill – private or municipal – you must apply for a permit from the Ministry of Environment and complete the approval process.
The protection of soils, surface waters and groundwater need to be considered during the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of any landfill to prevent negative impacts to the environment or nearby communities.
1. Constructing/Establishing a New Landfill
When developing a landfill, you must follow best design practices and consider specific site conditions to protect groundwater from potential contamination.
Before beginning construction of a new landfill, you will need to submit an application, along with a design plan, to the Ministry of Environment for approval.
To apply for a landfill permit:
1. Prepare Application
Applicants must work with a qualified person (QP) to prepare an application to construct a landfill. The application needs to include:
- Site suitability report – this report is important to help design the landfill. It details the information about the site, including the type of soil present and information on groundwater and surface water.
- Setbacks – landfills are required to be certain distances from high traffic/inhabited areas such as residences and highways. This information can be found in section 8 of The Municipal Refuse Management Regulations.
- Design plan – the design plan provides the details and drawings for the landfill based on the site-specific requirements. Refer to the Landfill Design Plan Fact Sheet for more information about designing and establishing a new municipal or private landfill.
2. Submit Application
For more information about registering for and using the portal, visit Environment Business Services.
3. Receive Permit
If your application is approved, a permit to construct will be issued with conditions that must be met. These conditions include, but are not limited to:
- A construction verification report that includes quality assurance and quality control test results. This ensures the landfill is constructed according to the design plan.
- The development of an operations plan and emergency response plan prior to operation of the facility.
- A preliminary closure plan (required no later than 60 days after the completion of construction of the landfill.) This provides a roadmap for the operation of the landfill.
A permit to operate will be issued once all documents required in the permit to construct are submitted and approved.
2. Operating a Landfill
Landfills operators need to follow permit conditions:
Having an operations plan and an emergency response plan in place and reviewing/updating those plans annually.
- Landfill Operations Plan Fact Sheet
- Sample Landfill Operations Plan
- Sample Landfill Emergency Response Plan
Monitoring and reporting as per permit requirements.
Other requirements include:
- Reporting fires and spills immediately to the Hazardous Spills reporting line at 1-800- 667-7525.
- Informing the ministry prior to sale or closure of the site (typically 60 days prior).
- Communicating with the ministry (including permit renewals) through the ministry’s online portal.
Hazardous Household Waste
If a waste management facility accepts hazardous household waste (such as used oil) to store and eventually recycle, or has fuel tanks for equipment, the facility may be required to have a Hazardous Substances Waste Dangerous Goods Storage Approval (depending on the amount of material being stored). Contact an environmental protection officer for more information by contacting the Ministry of Environment Inquiry Centre at 1-800-567-4224.
Please note: Diverting waste from landfills by recycling and composting can extend the life of landfills. For more information, please visit saskatchewan.ca/recycling.
3. Closing/Decommissioning a Landfill
Proper closure and decommissioning of a landfill is key to protecting residents and the environment surrounding your community.
If you have decided to close/decommission your landfill, you are required to:
- Inform the ministry and discuss next steps with an environmental protection officer.
- Work with a qualified person to prepare decommissioning and reclamation plans.
- Determine an alternative waste disposal plan, which could include:
- establishing a transfer station;
- implementing household pick up; or
- a combination of transfer station and household pick up.
When the site stops accepting waste, you are required to:
- Provide written notice to the environmental protection officer.
- Place an interim cover over the landfill to stop blowing litter and reduce wildlife and rodent issues.
- Post a notice at the entrance warning against trespassing, illegal dumping and vandalism.
Ensure the site is clean of any litter, unused containers, unused tanks or waste in temporary storage areas, including recyclable materials.
Once the site is closed, you must:
- Implement your approved decommissioning and reclamation plan. This may include completing an environmental site assessment.
- Apply a final approved landfill engineered cover system.
- Provide a final report to the ministry.
- Undertake post-closure work that may include maintenance and monitoring.
4. Inert Landfills
People or companies looking to dispose of a significant amount of inert waste - including some construction and demolition material - can apply to construct and obtain a permit for an inert landfill.
Some examples of inert waste include:
- concrete, bricks, mortar;
- rubble, construction debris;
- wood scrap, trees, stumps;
- minimal scrap metal;
- non-recyclable plastics (film plastics are discouraged due to littering potential);
- tiles, ceramics, glass; and
More information can be found in this guidance document.