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2003 Waste — Co-winner 1

City of Edmonton, Alberta

Integrated Waste Management System (IWMS)

Population: 666,104

When the City of Edmonton's landfill was nearing capacity in the early 1980s, the city seized the opportunity to develop an entirely new approach to waste management. Key components of its integrated waste management system (IWMS) include North America's largest ccomposting facility (a facility that treats two streams of waste inclumunicipal solid waste and bio-solids), a new materials recovery facility, "Eco Stations" for year-round collection of household hazardous waste, a landfill gas (LFG) capture plant, a leachate treatment facility, and an extensive public education program. The composting and recycling programs have increased residential waste diversion from 15 per cent in 1999 to 60 per cent in 2002.


In the early 1980s, the city's landfill was reaching its capacity. A search began for a new landfill site with more than 100 sites within the city limits and surrounding areas considered. Residents, however, balked at the idea of having a landfill in their community and demanded a more responsible approach to waste management.

With such a strong public reaction, city staff seized the opportunity to develop an entirely new approach and assessed long-term strategies that focused on reduction, recycling, and resource recovery, and explored alternatives to landfill, including incineration and various types of composting.

In addition to its innovative waste system, the city has participated in FCM's Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) since 1995 and is actively developing its local action plan (PCP Milestone Three) through a private-public partnership called Carbon Dioxide Reduction Edmonton, or CO2RE.The team includes planners, developers, social workers, business leaders, environmentalists, engineers, educators, and government representatives from more than 20 organizations. CO2RE was featured as one of eight municipal regions in FCM's Citizen Participation and Community Engagement in the Local Action Plan Process: A Guide for Municipal Governments.


  • In 1999, the city modified its 11-year old blue box recycling program and introduced blue bag recycling, achieving a 70 per cent conversion rate in its first year.
  • The co-composting facility, opened in 2000, processes 180,000 tonnes of residential waste and up to 22,500 dry tonnes of biosolids each year, producing 80,000 tonnes of compost. An additional composting system was installed in 2002 that enables the city to compost additional biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant.
  • A leachate treatment plant processes up to 10 million litres of leachate annually before sending it to the wastewater treatment plant.
  • A multi-faceted public education program includes school programs, a backyard composting demonstration centre, and a waste hotline. The city's award-winning master composter/recycler program trains volunteers in composting, recycling, and waste reduction. Graduates promote these activities in their communities. More than 400 volunteers have graduated from the program since its inception.
  • Two "Eco Stations," that collect household hazardous waste, have opened since 1995.They also serve as transfer stations for every type of household waste.

Lessons Learned

  • Work closely with elected officials. Staff ensured that councillors were regularly updated during development of the plan, and this ensured political support for the IWMS.
  • Do your homework. The city researched and analyzed several options, set objectives, and defined criteria before choosing what worked best for the community.
  • Give the public an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way. Connie Boyce reported that, during the 1980s when the city was initially looking to site a new landfill, the city did not involve the public as much as it could have and the issue became quite controversial. "As a result, public input has become an integral part of our system," she said. "If we develop anything new, we make sure we communicate that to the public."
  • Ensure that responsibilities under public-private partnerships are clear. The city uses many such arrangements in its IWMS. "You must be very specific in your agreements so that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities," said Ms. Boyce.
  • Share your expertise. In the last two years, over 1,500 delegates from around the world have toured the city's facilities. "They come from every continent," said Ms.Boyce. "Developing countries are struggling the most with waste management issues and our facilities reinforce that there are alternatives to landfilling. We have a lot of expertise to share so even if they don't use the same system, there are elements they can incorporate."

Partners and Collaboration


  • City of Edmonton Waste Management Branch and Drainage Services


  • Edmonton School Board
  • Canadian Waste Services
  • EarthTech
  • AMEC Earth and Environmental
Page Updated: 21/12/2015