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Special wastes suitable for public works projects

Section 895.58(2), Wis. Stats., provides immunity from liability for the use of certain solid wastes that are beneficially used in public works projects. Under this law, the DNR may characterize a "special waste" as suitable for beneficial use in public works projects. "Special waste" means any type of solid waste for which the DNR has granted a waiver or an exemption under s. 289.43(3), (4), (7) or (8), Wis. Stats., or that is exempt by rule under s. 289.05(4), Wis. Stats. A "public works project" means any work done under contract to a state agency or local governmental unit.

Solid wastes characterized as special wastes

Industrial byproducts

Section 289.05(4), Wis. Stats., allows the DNR to create rules that allow and encourage the beneficial use of industrial byproducts, so long as that use is consistent with the protection of public health and the environment and is conducted under good engineering practices.

Section NR 538.03(2), Wis. Adm. Code, defines "industrial byproduct" as paper mill sludge; ash from energy recovery, including coal ash and slag and material captured in flue gas desulfurization systems; ferrous and steel foundry excess system sand and slag; lime-kiln dust; or other nonhazardous solid waste with similar characteristics as determined by the DNR. These industrial byproducts, when beneficially used in compliance with ch. NR 538, are characterized as special wastes.

It is important to note that NR 538 is applicable to facilities that voluntarily participate in the program and have characterized their industrial byproducts according to the rules of the program. Waste and Materials Management staff can verify the name of the facility that participates in the program and the type of industrial byproduct.

Clean fill

Section NR 500.08(2)(a), Wis. Adm. Code, exempts clean soil, brick, building stone, concrete, broken pavement and unpainted and untreated wood from the requirements of chapters NR 500 to 536. These wastes, when beneficially used in compliance with requirements in s. NR 500.08(2) that establish environmentally sensitive places where wastes cannot be placed, are also characterized as special wastes under s.895.58, Wis. Stats.


Section NR 500.08(2)(f), Wis. Adm. Code, exempts glass used as an aggregate replacement in asphalt pavement and subbase material under roadways, from the requirements of chs. NR 500 to 536. This waste, when beneficially used in compliance with the specific conditions outlined in s. NR 500.08(2)(f) and locational requirements in s. NR 500.08(2), are characterized as special wastes under s. 895.58, Wis. Stats.

Special wastes listed by grant of exemption

Section 289.43(3),(4),(7) or (8), Wis. Stats., allows the DNR to waive requirements to landfill a solid waste for certain research projects, high-volume industrial waste and other wastes based on their impact on public health or the environment. The DNR has characterized the solid wastes listed below as special wastes. The conditions under which these special wastes may be used in public works projects are found in the specific grants of exemption listed below.