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Composting and Mulching: Am I Regulated?

Requirements for composting or mulching source-separated materials, and materials diverted from a municipal solid waste stream. Links to guidance and forms.

 

 

Types of Composting and Mulching Operations

If you compost, mulch, or land-apply, or accept for composting, mulching, or land-application only source-separated yard-trimmings, clean wood material, vegetative material, paper, and manure, your operation will be exempt from permit, registration, and notification requirements, provided it complies with Title 30 Texas Administrative Code (30 TAC) Chapter 332, Section (§) 332.3(d) Exit TCEQ (relating to Composting, Applicability). Other operations will require a notification, registration, or permit, depending on the material being processed and the location of the operation.

If your composting or mulching operation involves storing combustible material outdoors or poses a significant risk to public health and safety, you may also be required to establish financial assurance for closure of the facility.

If your facility is located in Bexar County, and will store combustible material, please read about additional requirements for facilities in Bexar County, that became effective September 10, 2009.

 

Exempt Composting and Mulching Operations

The following activities are exempt from the TCEQ compost permit, registration, and notification requirements by 30 TAC §332.3(d) Exit TCEQ:

  • Composting of source-separated yard trimmings, clean wood material, vegetative material (defined in 30 TAC §332.2 Exit TCEQ), paper, and manure
  • Composting of agricultural materials generated and composted on agricultural sites
  • Mulching
  • Land application of yard trimmings, clean wood materials, vegetative materials, and manure at rates below or equal to agronomic rates as determined by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service
  • Application of paper as an erosion control or soil amendment
  • On-site composting of nonhazardous industrial waste at a facility that is in compliance with 30 TAC §335.2 Exit TCEQ (relating to Permit Required) and §335.6(a) Exit TCEQ (relating to Notification Requirements)

provided that the operation complies with:

  • General requirements in 30 TAC §332.4 Exit TCEQ, and
  • Air quality requirements in 30 TAC §332.8 Exit TCEQ

However, exempt operations that compost or mulch yard-trimmings, clean wood material, vegetative material, paper, or manure must do the following in addition to complying with the general requirements and air quality requirements listed above:

See also information for all composting and mulching operations.

 

Composting and Mulching Operations Requiring a Notification

You will need to submit a compost notification to the TCEQ in accordance with 30 TAC Chapter 332, Subchapter A, §332.3(c) Exit TCEQ, and Chapter 332, Subchapter B Exit TCEQ, if you compost any of the following materials:

  • Source-separated meat, fish, dead animal carcasses, or dairy materials
  • Source-separated meat and vegetable oils and greases

using the forms for notification-tier compost facilities.

If your notification-tier operation involves storing combustible material outdoors or poses a significant risk to public health and safety, you will also need to establish financial assurance for closure, unless your facility is excluded by 30 TAC §328.5(a) Exit TCEQ.

See also information for all composting and mulching operations.

 

Compost Operations Requiring a Registration

You will need to obtain a compost registration from the TCEQ, as required by 30 TAC §332.3(b) Exit TCEQ if you compost any of the following materials:

  • Municipal sewage sludge (exception: operations that compost municipal sewage sludge mixed with municipal solid waste require a permit)
  • Positively sorted organic materials (defined in 30 TAC §332.2 Exit TCEQ) in addition to those feedstocks at the exempt tier
  • Disposable diapers
  • Paper sludges (evaluated on a case-by-case basis)

To apply for a compost registration, you must submit an application in accordance with 30 TAC Chapter 332, Subchapter C Exit TCEQ and Subchapter G Exit TCEQ, and the forms for composting operations requiring a permit or registration.

In addition, the compost produced must comply with end-product standards.

If your registered composting or mulching operation involves storing combustible material outdoors or poses a significant risk to public health and safety, you may also be required to establish financial assurance for closure of the facility.

See also information for all composting and mulching operations.

 

Compost Operations Requiring a Permit

You will need to obtain a compost permit from the TCEQ as required by 30 TAC §332.3(a) Exit TCEQ if you compost any of the following materials:

  • Grease-trap wastes
  • Mixed municipal solid waste that is not positively sorted

To apply for a compost permit, you must submit an application in accordance with 30 TAC Chapter 330, §330.1(d) Exit TCEQ, and Chapter 332, Subchapters D, E, F, and G Exit TCEQ, and include the forms for composting operations requiring a permit or registration.

In addition, the compost produced must comply with end-product standards.

See also information for all composting and mulching operations.

 

Compost End-Product Standards

Registered compost facilities must comply with the end-product standards referenced in 30 TAC §332.37(11) Exit TCEQ, and permitted compost facilities must comply with the end-product standards referenced in 30 TAC §332.45(11) Exit TCEQ. Registered compost facilities must submit reports semiannually; permitted compost facilities must submit reports monthly.

  • Requirements for sampling and analysis, documentation, and reporting of final product characteristics (30 TAC §332.71 Exit TCEQ)

    A note about exemption from TCEQ laboratory accreditation: All data submitted to the TCEQ after July 1, 2008, must be prepared by a laboratory accredited by the TCEQ unless the program area determines that an exemption applies under 30 TAC §25.6(4) Exit TCEQ. The Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Permits Section has determined that MSW composting facilities may use analytical data prepared by a laboratory certified under the U.S. Composting Council Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) Program, using the Test Methods for the Examination of Composting and Compost (TMECC) protocols, to demonstrate compliance with end-product standards specified in 30 TAC Chapter 332. Compost end-product testing, including testing for heavy metals using EPA test methods may be performed by laboratories that certify compliance with STA program rules in lieu of accreditation by the TCEQ.

  • Final Product Report for Registered or Permitted Composting Facilities (Form TCEQ-20194)

 

Financial Assurance Requirements for Composting and Mulching Facilities

If you store combustible material outdoors or your composting or mulching operation poses a significant risk to public health and safety, you are required to establish financial assurance in accordance with 30 TAC § 328.5(c)–(e) Exit TCEQ for notification-tier facilities (unless excluded by 30 TAC § 328.5(a) Exit TCEQ), registration-tier facilities, and certain exempt facilities, or in accordance with 30 TAC §332.47(9) Exit TCEQ for permitted facilities. The following documents provide additional information:

 

Information for All Composting and Mulching Facilities

Rules

The composting rules address composting, mulching and land application, and the beneficial reuse of nonhazardous organic materials. It is anticipated that the majority of composted materials will be diverted from the municipal waste stream; however, the rules also address agricultural materials, sludge, and other organic materials diverted from the industrial waste stream. In addition, composting and mulching are recycling activities, therefore, composting and mulching facilities are also recycling facilities and must comply with applicable storage, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements for recycling facilities.

All composting and mulching facilities are required to follow the general requirements in 30 TAC §332.4 Exit TCEQ and the air quality requirements in §332.8 Exit TCEQ, which include compliance with all applicable state and federal laws. All activities must be conducted in a manner that prevents the discharge of material to or pollution of surface water or groundwater, the creation of a nuisance, or the endangerment of the public health and welfare, or the environment.

 

Other Permits Required

  • Air Quality Permit

    In accordance with 30 TAC §332.8 Exit TCEQ, qualifying composting and mulching facilities may pursue an air quality standard permit instead of a site-specific air quality permit.

  • Water Quality Permit

    The discharge of wastewater and certain types of storm water into or adjacent to water in the state must be authorized by a water quality permit. In particular, a water quality permit is required for wastewater discharges from livestock manure composting operations.

 

Composting Refund

The operator of a municipal solid waste facility with an approved composting plan may be eligible for a refund of up to 20 percent of the solid waste fees collected by the facility.

 

Composting Forms

  • Forms for Certain Exempt Composting and Mulching Facilities
    • Submit Notice of Intent (NOI) to Operate a Recycling Facility online using e-Permits/Registration option in State of Texas Environmental Electronic Reporting System (STEERS)
      • STEERS Login Page
        (Applicants will need to create a STEERS account to complete the form online. For questions regarding the creation of a STEERS account, please contact the STEERS Program Area at 512-239-6925 or steers@tceq.texas.gov.)
    • Submit Notice of Intent to Operate a Recycling Facility on paper forms by mail
  • Forms for Notification-Tier Compost Facilities
    • Submit Notice of Intent to Operate a Compost Facility on paper forms by mail
  • Forms for Composting Operations Requiring a Permit or Registration
    • Submit Notice of Intent to Apply for a Compost Facility Permit or Registration on paper forms by mail
  • Final Product Report for Registered or Permitted Composting Facilities (Form TCEQ-20194)

     

    For More Information

    Contact us if you have questions about composting or mulching material from a municipal solid waste stream.

    Search the TCEQ Publications Catalog for documents relating to composting.

    Search the TCEQ Publications Catalog for documents relating to mulching.