StFX’s FluxLab receives $1 million for research that will help inform landfill methane emission policy

Flux Lab truck

St. Francis Xavier University’s FluxLab has received $1 million in funding and its research data is helping inform vital new policy the Canadian government is developing to meet landfill methane emission reduction targets. Landfills are one of the country’s three major methane emitters. 

FluxLab, led by Dr. Dave Risk, undertook a project collecting methane measurements at 12 landfills in three different climatic regions across the country to better understand major emission sources from solid waste landfilling operations. 

Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi made the funding announcement May 13 during the 2024 CanCH4 Symposium – Methane by the Numbers, a technical meeting, held at Carleton University, to share research and measurement data on methane emissions in support of Faster & Further, Canada’s National Methane Strategy.

The aim of FluxLab’s study, carried out this past year, was to address critical data gaps by conducting a systematic measurement study to define methane sources, their variation, mitigation opportunities, and potential for improved modeling.

Athar Omidi holds a master’s degree in mathematics and completed a master’s degree in computer science at StFX in 2022. She was the lead data analyst working on this project and is continuing to analyze the data collected. “Our study revealed that active faces of landfills, where new waste is added, emit significant amounts of methane, raising important questions about the timing of methane formation in relation to waste deposition,” she says. 

“We observed considerable variability in these emissions, with higher rates in colder seasons and lower rates in summer, highlighting the need for continuous measurements to accurately estimate total emissions and further research to unravel the complexities of landfill methane dynamics.”

FluxLab Research Operations Manager Chelsie Hall says executing this field intensive project required hiring seven new employees to work alongside the lab’s existing 25 staff and students. 
“The breadth of training people obtain at FluxLab allows them to take research into the world whether by improving measurement methods and accounting of methane and other greenhouse gases, or through policy development,” she says. 

flux lab measurement
Field engineer Shadman Sakib working on site at a landfill in Nova Scotia in 2023.

“FluxLab is an interdisciplinary research and development lab, and one of our greatest strengths is our flexibility to work across government, other academic institutions, industries and NGOs.”

Ms. Hall says, “Those hired to work on this project were all recent graduates or in early stages of their careers, and this funding allowed them to connect with a powerful network of research receptors and potential future employers.” 


Canada’s Methane Strategy commits to a 50 per cent reduction in waste sector emissions by 2030. Landfill methane regulations are being developed, and should be introduced by 2025, but until recently there has been little relevant field data.

Only in 2022, were the first large-scale screening measurements of Canadian landfills gathered by FluxLab, with funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada, who launched a national landfill measurement study and collected “snapshots” of emissions data from 125 sites between Nova Scotia and British Columbia. 

Building upon that work in this most current study, funded by Natural Resources Canada, FluxLab conducted more comprehensive measurements at a dozen landfills in Nova Scotia (maritime/coastal); Quebec (humid continental); and Alberta (prairie-steppe.) 

The research is helping identify methane sources at different landfill types; methane mitigation thresholds and approaches; will help provide measurement guidance for landfill operators; and will provide data to improve the accuracy of emissions models for Canadian landfills. 

FluxLab staff measured each landfill in two different seasons and used several methods of measurements including truck-based, drone, and stationary set ups to gain broader understandings of factors that influence landfill methane emissions. 

Another component of this research included a technology comparison study, funded by Environmental Research & Education Foundation, an American non-profit organization which does research for the solid waste industry to enable innovation in sustainable waste management practices. 

That study, at a closed landfill where controlled amounts of methane were released, saw 16 different service providers on site to test how their technology and methods worked, enabling researchers and waste companies to better understand and compare how well the tools they are using work.