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Waste 2 Resources Program

Solid Waste Facilities and the Permitting Process

What Types of Solid Waste Facilities are Permitted?

Many facility types require solid waste permits in Washington State. The majority of the facilities are subject to chapter 70.95 RCW, Solid Waste Management. Specific requirements are found in regulations as follows:

Chapter 173-306 WAC, Special Incinerator Ash Management Standards, applies to ash monofills.

Chapter 173-351 WAC, Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills, contains permit requirements for municipal solid waste landfills. Go to Municipal Solid Waste Landfills for more information.

Chapter 173-350 WAC, Solid Waste Handling Standards, contains permit requirements for :
  • Anaerobic Digesters
  • Limited purpose landfills
  • Inert waste landfills
  • Transfer stations and drop boxes
  • Compost facilities
  • Land application sites
  • Pile storage and treatment
  • Surface impoundments
  • Tanks
  • Waste tire storage facilities
  • Moderate risk waste facilities
  • Recycling and material recovery facilities
  • Energy recovery facilities and incinerators
Find lists of solid waste facilities in Washington in databases maintained by the Waste 2 Resources Program.

Who Writes the Regulations for Solid Waste Facilities?

The Department of Ecology, per RCW 70.95.060, is directed to write minimum standards for solid waste handling. Jurisdictional health departments (JHDs) have primary oversight of solid waste facilities and issue permits and enforce the standards. Under RCW 70.95.160, JHDs must adopt regulations that may be more stringent than the state's “minimum” standards. For anyone planning to handle solid waste, it is important to contact the JHD where the facility is located to discuss standards, permitting and associated fees.

What is the Permitting Process for Solid Waste Facilities?

  • Jurisdictional health departments (JHDs) are the permitting entities in Washington State. A facility can obtain a permit application from the JHD for the county in which the facility is located. Many JHDs use the permit application form created by the Department of Ecology (Ecology) and found on the Solid Waste Facility Forms page. Besides filling out the form, a complete permit application will typically include design, operating, environmental monitoring and closure plans. Contact the JHD to see what permit fees to submit with permit applications.

    After a facility submits two complete applications to the JHD, the JHD must submit one copy to Ecology. Ecology has 45 days to recommend for or against issuance of a solid waste permit to the JHD. Ecology has only review authority, not permit approval. The JHD has 90 days after receiving the complete application to decide if the facility conforms to solid waste and other laws and regulations, and to the local comprehensive solid waste management plan.

    Once a JHD issues a solid waste permit, it must submit a copy of the permit to Ecology within seven days. Ecology has 30 days to review the permit and can appeal its issuance to the Pollution Control Hearings Board as described in chapter 43.21B RCW.

    Permit application process and requirements are found in WAC 173-350-710 and WAC 173-350-715 and, for municipal solid waste landfills, WAC 173-351-720.
  • All permit applications must include proof that it meets requirements of the State Environmental Policy Act, chapter 197-11 WAC, SEPA Rules. The JHD can provide appropriate contacts for this.
  • Some facilities require proof of financial assurance before they can start operating. Financial assurance is required for municipal solid waste landfills, limited purpose landfills, waste tire facilities and moderate risk waste facilities that store more than nine thousand gallons of MRW on-site, excluding used oil.

Permit Deferral

Chapter 173-350 WAC, Solid Waste Handling Standards, allows for a "Permit Deferral" under WAC 173-350-710(8). The jurisdictional health department, at its discretion and with the concurrence of the Department of Ecology, can waive the requirement for a solid waste permit if other air, water or environmental permits issued for a facility will provide an equivalent or superior level of environmental protection. A facility can apply for a permit deferral using the Permit Deferral Form.

Exemptions from Solid Waste Permitting

  • Chapter 173-350 WAC, Solid Waste Handling Standards, does not require solid waste permits for some facilities, as long as they meet certain conditions. These facilities include recycling, material recovery, composting, piles of agricultural, inert or wood waste, and some moderate risk waste handling activities. Consult applicable sections of chapter 173-350 WAC to see if your facility will be able to meet the conditions for exemption or contact Department of Ecology (Ecology) staff.
  • Under chapter 173-350 WAC, Solid Waste Handling Standards, Ecology can grant a beneficial use exemption from the permit requirements for uses of solid waste. Find more information at Beneficial Use.
In contrast to permitted facilities, which are overseen by jurisdictional health departments, Ecology has direct oversight for permit-exempt facilities.

State-Issued Solid Waste Permits and Certifications