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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

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Table of Contents: Land Quality

Solid Waste

Solid waste, in general, can be a solid, incidental liquid or contained gas that is discarded, abandoned, or recycled, or is an inherently waste-like material. IDEM oversees the disposal of solid wastes, including household waste and wastes generated by commercial or industrial activities, as well as, those generated by cleanup activities.

Waste Disposal Facility Permitting

Obtaining an IDEM-Issued Permit to Operate a Waste Disposal Facility

Persons and governmental entities wishing to construct and operate a facility for the disposal or processing of any type of solid waste must obtain a permit from IDEM’s OLQ Solid Waste Permits Section. Types of solid waste facilities include: municipal solid waste landfills, restricted waste disposal facilities, construction/demolition debris landfills, incinerators, solid waste transfer stations, and other types of processing facilities.

Solid Waste Operator Certification

IDEM also issues solid waste operator certifications to those persons responsible for the daily operation of a solid waste disposal facility. To learn more about solid waste permitting requirements, contact IDEM’s OLQ Solid Waste Permitting Section at (800) 451-6027, ext. 2-7200.

Application information

Visit the IDEM Forms page for application forms and instructions. Contact IDEM’s OLQ Solid Waste Permits Section to speak with or arrange a meeting with staff concerning permitting requirements for any type of disposal or processing facility that you or your company may propose to build or operate. Early coordination is highly recommended. Staff may be reached through IDEM’s toll free number at (800) 451-6027, ext. 2-7200.

Waste Determinations and Management Options for Those Who Generate Solid Waste

Determining the disposal requirements for waste generated by a commercial or industrial facility can be varied and complex. There may be some wastes that are readily acceptable for disposal at any permitted solid waste landfill, such as lunchroom and non-hazardous office waste, as well as, wastes which require more environmentally protective handling or disposal requirements. It is the responsibility of the generator to determine those requirements based on the nature and the characteristics of the wastes generated, and to manage and dispose of them in the appropriate manner. This process is called a "waste determination."

The Indiana Administrative Code, (329 IAC 10-7.2) Title 329, article 10, rule 7.2 of the Indiana Administrative Code describes how such a waste determination must be conducted to determine how to properly manage, process or dispose of a solid waste. The waste determination establishes whether a waste is hazardous waste or a non-hazardous waste. If hazardous, the regulatory requirements with which you must comply will be based on the amount you generate each month.

If your solid waste is determined to be non-hazardous, you must then determine if it contains regulated levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), pesticides, asbestos, or other handling problems defined in 329 IAC 10-7.2-1. Management requirements for these solid wastes can be found at 329 IAC 8.2. Regulatory requirements for wastes containing regulated levels of PCBs can be found int the Indiana Administrative Code at 329 IAC 4.1. Special requirements for waste pesticides can be found in the Indiana Code at IC 15-16-4-68.

Note: Waste streams cannot be combined for a waste determination.

Industrial process wastes (defined in the Indiana Administrative Code at 329 IAC 10-2-95), which are determined to be non-hazardous and which do not contain PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) or other wastes regulated by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) or the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) may be managed or processed in a variety of means, including:

  • Disposal at a permitted solid waste landfill;
  • Disposal at a permitted solid waste incinerator;
  • Disposal at an IDEM-permitted restricted waste site (these sites are usually self-operated by the generator). A waste classification is required for each waste to be disposed at the site;
  • Land application (this includes land application for agronomic purposes, as well as, inclusion in compost or potting soil. Land application requires approval by IDEM).
Visit IDEM's Web site for:

Legitimate Use of Non-hazardous Waste Materials

Some non-hazardous solid wastes may be legitimately used (refer to the Indiana Administrative Code [329 IAC 10-3-1] "Exclusions; general"). Please note that IDEM approval may be required to reuse certain wastes, depending upon the type of waste and how it is to be reused. Some commonly reused industrial process wastes have separate statutory exclusion. Those wastes include:

Some wastes cannot be, or are not commonly, accepted by municipal solid waste landfills. It may be more appropriate (and perhaps less expensive) to dispose of these wastes at other types of facilities, such as construction/demolition debris landfills or yard waste composting facilities. The Solid Waste Landfills fact sheet (available on the IDEM Fact Sheets page) provides additional information about the various solid waste landfills, including construction/demolition debris landfills.

IDEM has developed non-rule policies or issued guidance documents regarding the management and disposal of a wide range of other regulated wastes. All facilities are urged to review their disposal practices of these wastes.

Transfer Stations

Generators may send waste through transfer stations prior to disposal. Transfer stations may accept industrial waste as long as they comply with the conditions of their permit. Contact the transfer station to determine the information they need from you to accept your waste in accordance with their operating permit.

Processing (Bulking) Facilities

Generators may send waste to permitted processing facilities to solidify or consolidate waste prior to disposal. Again, you should contact the facility to determine whether they can accept your waste, and if they need additional information.

Construction, Demolition, and Renovation Sites

Asbestos-containing materials must be properly managed at demolition and renovation sites. A great deal of additional information, including tips for homeowners and a listing of state-permitted municipal solid waste landfills, is provided on IDEM’s OAQ Asbestos Waste Handling Requirements Web page. Questions about licensing, demolition, notification and disposal may be directed to IDEM’s 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.

Be sure to check with local city and county officials for local ordinances and/or regulations regarding demolition projects. You may need a permit from the city and/or county where the demolition is to occur prior to beginning a demolition project.

Vegetative Wastes

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 one of the options listed below.

Vegetative and naturally occurring woody wastes can instead be taken to a registered yard waste composting facility. Vegetative wastes and chipped, ground, or shredded woody vegetative wastes could be composted onsite (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.

Construction/Demolition Debris

Construction, renovation, and building sites usually generate scrap building materials. Although such construction debris may be disposed of at almost any solid waste landfill, it may be less expensive to haul it to a permitted construction/demolition (C/D) debris landfill rather than dispose of it at a municipal solid waste landfill. Anyone considering burying or burning construction debris should first read the material below.

Renovation and demolition sites usually generate demolition debris. As with construction debris, disposal of demolition debris may be less expensive at a permitted construction and demolition [PDF] 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.

Burying Debris

Uncontaminated rocks, bricks, concrete, road demolition debris, and dirt are not subject to solid waste regulations found in the Indiana Administrative Code under 329 IAC 10-3-1, and therefore do not have to be disposed of in a landfill. Such debris may be left or buried on-site, or may be used off-site as fill, so long as it is not placed in a wetland or floodway. However, no other types of construction or demolition debris may be buried or left on-site. Some bmaterials can compress or decay over time such that structures built on unknown burial sites could, at some future date, be subject to subsidence.

Burning Construction Debris

Open burning also is not generally an allowable or safe alternative (see 326 IAC 4). In particular, builders should keep in mind that state rules allowing private residential burning do not apply to open burning construction debris on residential building sites. Open burning of waste that is generated on a regular basis as part of routine business operations is prohibited.

Even when burning for heating purposes - which is allowed only from October 1 to May 15 - builders must conform to the state open burning rules, some of which include that:

  1. fires must be in a noncombustible container that is sufficiently vented to induce adequate combustion and has enclosed sides and a bottom (no fires on the ground);
  2. only clean wood products and paper may be burned (for example; no tar paper, shingles, plastic pipe, empty containers, etc.);
  3. burning must be done during safe weather conditions;
  4. fires must be attended;
  5. fires must be extinguished if they create a hazard, nuisance, pollution problem or threat to public health;
  6. adequate fire fighting equipment must be nearby; and,
  7. burning activities also must comply with all other federal, state and local laws, rules and ordinances (For example, branches and twigs are the only wood products that may be open burned in those portions of Marion County incorporated into Indianapolis).

Furthermore, burning treated lumber - which has been saturated or coated with arsenic, chromium, copper, creosote, or other wood preservatives - is prohibited under all circumstances. There are documented instances of a single exposure to treated wood smoke causing serious harm to humans. For more information, see the Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) fact sheet.

It also is noteworthy that 326 IAC 4-1-5 states that "Any person who allows the accumulation or existence of combustible material which constitutes or contributes to a fire causing air pollution may not refute liability for violation of this rule (326 IAC 4-1) on the basis that said fire was set by vandals, accidental, or an act of God."

No other open burning of construction waste is allowed without first obtaining a variance from IDEMs Office of Air Quality.

Demolition Debris

Renovation and demolition sites usually generate demolition debris. As with construction debris, disposal of demolition debris may be less expensive at a permitted construction and demolition debris landfill [PDF] than at a municipal solid waste landfill. Anyone considering burying or burning demolition debris should first read the material below.

Burying Demolition Debris

Uncontaminated rocks, bricks, concrete, road demolition debris, and dirt are not subject to solid waste regulations (see 329 IAC 10-3-1), and therefore do not have to be disposed of in a landfill. Such debris may be left or buried on-site, or may be used off-site as fill, so long as it is not placed in a wetland or floodway. However, no other types of demolition debris may be buried or left on-site. It can include materials that can compress or decay over time such that structures built on unknown burial sites could, at some future date, be subject to subsidence.

Open Burning of Certain "Wooden Structures" or Demolition Debris

Open burning is not generally an allowable or safe alternative: (for the rule, please refer to the Indiana Administrative Code [326 IAC 4]). Open burning must conform to specific state guidelines and any local ordinances on open burning. The open burning of certain "wooden structures," such as barns, out buildings, sheds, garages, corn cribs and outhouses, is allowable, but only under the following circumstances:

  1. The burning must take place in an unincorporated area and on the site where the structure is located (a person may not demolish a “wooden structure” and haul it outside the city limits to burn);
  2. If the “wooden structure” has an asphalt roof, vinyl or asphalt siding, wiring, or any material other than wood, concrete, brick, glass or metal, that material should be removed so that the structure can be considered a “wooden structure;”
  3. All asbestos containing materials and treated lumber must be removed and not burned; and,
  4. All such burning of “wooden structures” must confirm to specific state guidelines and any local ordinances on open burning.

The debris remaining from burning a wooden structure must be properly disposed at either a permitted municipal solid waste landfill or a permitted construction/demolition debris landfill.

No other open burning of demolition waste is allowed without first obtaining a variance from IDEM. 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 Air Compliance Branch at (800) 451-6027, ext. 3-5672. Regulated solid waste and asbestos-containing materials and treated lumber must be removed for proper disposal at an approved facility. 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 Asbestos Section, toll free at (800) 451-6027 ext. 3-6880, or IDEM's Industrial Waste Compliance Section at (800) 451-6027 ext. 308-3103 or 308-3008.