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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

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Table of Contents: Land Quality

Yard Waste Composting Facility Registration

Because of the Yard Waste Disposal Ban under Indiana Code (IC 13-20-9), vegetative material (leaves, brush, and woody vegetative matter more than three feet in length) from landscaping and land clearing projects no longer may be taken to a solid waste landfill. As a result, persons wishing to dispose of such banned vegetative material are encouraged to take it to a nearby registered yard waste composting facility [PDF]. Composting is the biological treatment process by which microorganisms decompose the organic component of vegetative matter (such as yard or landscaping waste, including leaves, grass brush, limbs, and branches).

Registration and Compliance Information

According to the Indiana Code (IC 13-20-10), all owners or operators of a composting facility for vegetative matter must register with IDEM.

Compliance with IDEM's Yard Waste Composting Facility Registration Program includes:

  • Submitting an application for registration to IDEM;
  • Providing a detailed location and description of the site, including an outline of the composting operation boundaries clearly delineated on a topographic map;
  • Estimating the end use of composted materials and the annual volume of materials that will be processed by the facility;
  • Implementing compost management procedures, including controls for dust, odors, and noise;
  • Properly storing and disposing of any materials received that are unsuitable for composting;
  • Providing adequate controls to prevent groundwater or surface water contamination from leachate and runoff; and,
  • Submitting an annual report to IDEM that indicates the volume of material processed by the composting facility during the previous year and the final disposition of the composted materials.

There is no charge for registration and no time limit within which IDEM must process registration applications. However, applications are usually processed in less than one week. Registrations must be renewed every five (5) years.

Requirements for Changing Ownership

It is the policy of the IDEM Office of Land Quality (OLQ) that Registrations for Yard Waste Composting Facilities are not transferable. Thus, when property upon which a yard waste composting facility is located and/or operating changes ownership, the new owner must re-apply to IDEM for a new Yard Waste Composting Facility Registration, if they wish to continue to operate. Questions may be directed to IDEM’s OLQ Solid Waste Permits Section at (800) 451-6027, ext. 2-0066

Management Alternatives for Those Who Generate Vegetative Waste

Persons who wish to consider composting vegetative waste themselves should determine whether they are exempt from first registering with IDEM. Activities that are exempt from Yard Waste Composting Facility Registration requirements include:

  1. 1. Conducting a composting operation at one's residence or farm for vegetative matter and other types of organic material that are generated by their activities and stored, treated, or disposed of at their residence or farm.
  2. A composting operation that processes less than two thousand (2,000) pounds of vegetative matter during a year.
  3. The temporary storage of vegetative matter where only an incidental amount of composing will occur.

New construction, especially on previously undeveloped land, can generate leaf, brush, and woody wastes from land clearing which - under Indiana Code (IC 13-20-9) - are banned from disposal at solid waste landfills. Persons involved in land clearing activities do have the option to bury any vegetative wastes; such as leaves, twigs, branches, limbs, tree trunks and stumps onsite. However, because of the potential for future ground subsidence where large quantities of such material have been buried, the IDEM Office of Land Quality recommends that operators consider the following options.

  • Vegetative and naturally occurring woody wastes can instead be taken to a registered yard waste composting facility [PDF].
  • Vegetative wastes and chipped, ground, or shredded woody vegetative wastes could be composted on-site (although a registration process is required if more than 2000 pounds is to be composted) and the finished compost used onsite as a mulch, or worked into the soil as a soil amendment.
  • It also may be possible to burn the woody vegetation on site using an air curtain destructor (form available on the IDEM Forms page), provided prior approval is obtained from the IDEM Office of Air Quality.

Please visit IDEM’s Web page for Open Burning Forms and Guidance for more information and guidance. Questions concerning open burning variances and state rules may be directed to IDEM’s OAQ Air Compliance Branch at (800) 451-6027, ext. 3-5672.

Debris from renovation and demolition sites should be properly managed. As with construction debris, disposal of demolition debris may be less expensive at a permitted construction and demolition debris landfill than at a municipal solid waste landfill. To ensure asbestos has been properly addressed, IDEM provides information, including tips for homeowners and a listing of state-permitted municipal solid waste landfills, on IDEM’s Asbestos Waste Handling Requirements Web page. Questions about licensing, demolition, notification and disposal may be directed to IDEM’s OAQ Asbestos Section, toll free at (800) 451-6027 ext. 3-6880, or IDEM's OLQ Industrial Waste Compliance Section at (800) 451-6027 ext. 308-3103 or 308-3008.