Skip to main content

Frequently asked questions about solid waste

Where can I go to review files on a solid waste facility?

Files on solid waste facilities are maintained in regional offices, the central office in Madison and some service center offices. The best office to view a file will depend on the facility. Call the staff person assigned to the county facility in which you're interested to determine the best office to view the file.

Does the DNR regulate the operation of auto salvage yards?

The DNR regulates the disposal of solid and hazardous waste generated at salvage yards through laws and rules which are intended to prevent contamination of the land, surface and groundwater, and air from these operations. Additionally, auto salvage yards must have a storm water discharge permit issued by the DNR's Watershed Program and be certified and registered to remove freon from automobiles by the DNR's Air Management Program. Storm water permit and air management staff are located at DNR regional offices. They can provide you with information regarding whether an auto salvage yard has storm water permit coverage or a registration to remove freon.

The DNR does not issue licenses to auto salvage yards to operate but the Department of Transportation does license auto salvage yards. Wisconsin solid waste laws specifically exempt auto junk yards or scrap metal salvage yards from the definition of a solid waste facility. See s. 289.01(35), Wis. Stats.

The DNR does not regulate the visual appearance of salvage yards or where they may be located. Your local or county zoning ordinance may have requirements regarding the establishment of a junk yard and how it operates.

What is defined as "clean fill" that does not have to be taken to a landfill?

Wisconsin's solid waste management codes and statutes do not use the term "clean fill." However, s. NR 500.08(2)(a), Wis. Adm. Code, does address this general topic. This code provision says that, provided specific locational, performance and operational standards are met, facilities accepting only clean soil, brick, building stone, concrete, reinforced concrete, broken pavement, and unpainted or untreated wood are exempt from licensing and the requirements of chs. NR 500 to 538, Wis. Adm. Code.

Excavated naturally occurring soils typically meet the exemption requirements under s. NR 500.08(2)(a), Wis. Adm. Code. If the excavated soils are from the remediation of a contaminated site or contain manmade fill materials other than those listed above, some soils from these projects may have contaminant concentration levels that require handling as a solid waste. Soils from these projects are typically reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine if the NR 500.08(2)(a), Wis. Adm. Code exemption applies. For such situations you should contact the staff person assigned to the county in which the soils will be excavated.

Why doesn't Wisconsin control the amount of waste imported from other states?

See Wisconsin's waste imports and exports.

What requirements apply to asbestos?

Transportation of asbestos containing material (referred to as ACM) and most other demolition materials is regulated under s. NR 502.06, Wis. Adm. Code. In general, a solid waste transportation license from the DNR Waste Management Program is required. Homeowners can transport small amounts of their own ACM or other wastes without a solid waste transportation license.

Special requirements that apply to disposal of ACM are listed in s. NR 506.10, Wis. Adm. Code. In all cases, ACM must be properly packaged and transportation must be to a landfill approved to accept the waste, or to an approved storage facility. It's a good idea to contact the landfill to ensure the ACM can be accepted.

How ACM should be managed, including removal procedures, packaging for transport, and disposal requirements, depends on the specific type of ACM and how easily asbestos fibers can be released from the material. Types of ACM are defined as category 1 nonfriable, category II nonfriable, and friable, in ss. NR 447.02 (1)(a), (1)(b), and (16), Wis. Adm. Code, respectively, and include materials that contain 1% or more asbestos.

Necessary ACM removal procedures also depend on the type of building the ACM is being removed from. In all cases, friable ACM should be wetted prior to removal and immediately placed in a leakproof bag, and there should be no visible emission of dust or other particulates in the air at any time. Many other requirements apply, described further in the information referenced below.

The DNR's Waste and Materials Management Program, regulates ACM storage, transportation and disposal. Asbestos removal projects are regulated by DNR's Air Management Program, and DHS' Asbestos and Lead Section [exit DNR]. In particular, DHS regulates asbestos removal (abatement) contractors. A homeowner that removes asbestos from their residence is not required to be certified, but this is generally not recommended due to the hazardous nature of asbestos.

As a home mechanic, where do I recycle used motor oil?

See recycling motor oil, oil filters and other automotive products.

How do I dispose of old, worn-out tires?

See waste tires in Wisconsin.

How can I find information to clean up spilled mercury?

See mercury spills and cleanup.

As a business, what can I legally open burn?

See the DNR's "Can I Burn?" tool.

As an individual property owner, what can I legally open burn?

See the DNR's "Can I Burn?" tool.

When a building is burned for fire practice, how must the resulting ash be disposed?

Practice burns are allowed under section NR 502.11(2)(c), Wis. Adm. Code. Prior to a planned burn, building contents and building components containing hazardous materials (such as asbestos) must be removed. After the burn, the resulting ash should be disposed in a landfill approved by the Department. This applies to ash from any structure, including a single family home.

Remaining brick, stone, concrete, reinforced concrete and broken pavement may be disposed onsite, in accordance with s. NR 500.08(2)(a), Wis. Adm. Code. These materials can usually be pushed into the old basement or crawlspace after the ash and other charred remains have been removed. Waste disposal is prohibited in wetlands, surface waters and floodplains.