Organics Management photo identifier

Organics Management

Law & Rule

Washington State's law regarding solid waste handling, recovery and recycling is Chapter 70.95 RCW Solid Waste Management - Reduction and Recycling. It was created to prevent land, air, and water pollution and conserve the natural, economic, and energy resources of this state. Chapter 173-350 WAC, Solid Waste Handling Standards were written to implement the law. They contain specific requirements for organics and other solid waste management.

Protecting water through good management
practices. Photo courtesy of Dan Corum.

Anaerobic Digesters
Composting Facilities
Tools and Other Resources


Composting often goes hand-in-hand with agricultural practices. Much of this compost activity is exempt from the Solid Waste Handling Permit process. See the agricultural exemptions within the composting regulations, WAC 173-350-220 (1)(b)(v)-(vii), (ix) The primary agencies that provide assistance and oversight to agricultural operations are Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA).


Some dairy manure anaerobic digesters do not need a solid waste handling permit. They can operate as conditionally exempt from permitting requirements. However, if anaerobic digester operations do not qualify for the exemption, a solid waste handling permit is required. See Ecology's Anaerobic Digester site for more information.


WA State's composting regulation (WAC 173-350-220) has been revised.

Facility Standards

Composting facility standards are at WAC 173-350-220. They were developed to promote composting while protecting human health and the environment. Standards include:
  • Exemption categories (identifying operations that don't need solid waste handling permits)
  • Design and operating standards for permitted facilities
  • Compost quality testing requirements


Jurisdictional Health Departments (JHD) usually oversee solid waste permits for composting facilities. Ecology provides technical support reviewing operation plans, permits, and annual reports. Most permitted compost facilities are required to obtain air permits (in most cases by local air authority) and stormwater permits (Ecology).

Permit Exemptions

There are many exemptions from solid waste permits. Exemptions are based on feedstock type and volume, and whether the material is distributed off-site or used on-site. For details, see the solid waste handling permit exemptions within the composting regulations, WAC 173-350-220 (1)(b)(i)-(x)

Performance Standards

All compost facilities must meet the performance standards in WAC 173-350-040 whether they are exempt from a solid waste permit or not.

It's important to communicate with your jurisdictional health department (JHD) since they may require more stringent and/or additional requirements. Also maintain contact with Department of Ecology. See "Contact Us" to locate your regional office.


Compost Facility Annual Summary of Lab Analysis Form (Ecology)
Composting Facility Annual Report Form (Ecology)
Solid Waste Facility Forms (Ecology)