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Special Waste Disposal

Information on special waste identification, transportation, and disposal.

What Is Special Waste?

Special waste is a waste that requires special handling, trained people, and/or special disposal methods. A waste may be a special waste because of its quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical, or biological characteristics. Special waste is defined in Title 30 Texas Administrative Code (30 TAC), Chapter 330, Section (§) 330.3(148) Exit the TCEQ and described further in §330.171 Exit the TCEQ and §330.173 Exit the TCEQ. Additional information:

Examples of special waste include:

  • Class 1 nonhazardous industrial waste
  • Untreated medical waste
  • Hazardous waste from conditionally exempt small-quantity generators
  • Municipal and domestic water and wastewater treatment plant sludges
  • Septic tank pumpings
  • Grease and grit trap wastes
  • Slaughterhouse wastes
  • Dead animals
    Additional information:
  • Drugs, contaminated foods, or contaminated beverages (other than those contained in normal household waste)
  • Pesticide containers
  • Discarded materials containing asbestos
    Additional information:
    • Asbestos abatement and handling, contact Texas Dept. of State Health Services, Asbestos Program Exit TCEQ
  • Incinerator ash
  • Contaminated soils
  • Waste from oil, gas, and geothermal activities subject to regulation by the Railroad Commission of Texas when those wastes are to be processed, treated, or disposed of at a municipal solid waste (MSW) facility
    Additional information:
  • Certain wastes generated outside the boundaries of Texas
  • Other wastes that may be special wastes in some cases (for example, sorbent materials, blast media, diseased plants)

For more information about types of waste, refer to the page What Types of Waste May Be Accepted by a Municipal Solid Waste Facility?

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Classifying and Testing Special Waste

It is the responsibility of a generator of a waste to classify the waste and determine proper treatment and/or disposal methods. A generator may use process knowledge and/or analytical testing to classify a waste. Process knowledge (see 30 TAC Chapter 335, §335.511Exit the TCEQ is a waste generator's knowledge about how a waste is produced and handled, and what constituents are likely to be present in the waste. Analytical testing (see §335.509Exit the TCEQ is information about the concentrations of constituents in a waste, obtained from laboratory analysis. If sufficient process knowledge is available to classify a waste, little or no analytical testing may be needed. Additional information:

Some special wastes tend to vary significantly and may require testing. These wastes include:

  • Contaminated soils
  • Waste from oil, gas, and geothermal activities subject to regulation by the Railroad Commission of Texas, or from outside Texas
  • Incinerator ash
  • Industrial waste generated outside the boundaries of Texas
  • Waste from industrial wastewater treatment plants, air-pollution control facilities, and tanks, drums, or containers used for shipping or storing any material that has been listed as a hazardous constituent in Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR), Part 261, Appendix VIII Exit TCEQ, but has not been listed as a commercial chemical product in 40 CFR §261.33(e) or (f) Exit TCEQ
  • Abrasive-blast material
  • Absorbent material used in spill cleanup

Classify the waste based on test results using the following guidelines:

Regardless of whether you rely on process knowledge or opt for analytical testing, you must fully document the information used in making your waste classification.

A note about listed wastes:

  • Some wastes, such as contaminated soils, may contain one or more constituents that are listed hazardous wastes (see 40 CFR Part 261, §§261.30 through 261.35 Exit TCEQ) which could require the contaminated soil to be managed as a hazardous waste, even if the waste is not characteristically hazardous and even if the leachable concentrations of hazardous constituents are below toxicity thresholds. These wastes must be managed as hazardous wastes unless a "contained-in" determination shows that contaminant concentrations do not exceed applicable Tier 1 protective concentration levels; for more information see pages 17 and 18 of TRRP: Compatibility with RCRA (RG-366/TRRP-3) (in PDF; help with PDF).

For more information about types of waste, refer to the page What Types of Waste May Be Accepted by a Municipal Solid Waste Facility?

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Transporting Special Waste

Some special wastes (such as discarded materials containing asbestos) may require special handling, packaging, transportation by a registered transporter, and/or manifesting. For more information on waste transportation, see:

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Disposing of Special Waste

General Information

For information about the types of waste that potentially may be disposed of in an MSW landfill facility refer to this table summarizing types of waste accepted by MSW landfills (in PDF; help with PDF). The wastes that can actually be accepted by a particular facility depend on provisions of that facility's authorization.

Authorization to accept special waste may be granted case-by-case in accordance with 30 TAC §330.171 Exit the TCEQ and §330.173 Exit the TCEQ, or may be established for a facility by an explicit Special Waste Acceptance Plan (SWAP) prepared in accordance with §330.61(b) Exit the TCEQ and §330.171(b)(2) Exit the TCEQ. Wastes not included in a SWAP may be considered for disposal at an MSW landfill if a request with supporting documentation is submitted by the waste generator to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for technical review, and the request granted.

Some special wastes, identified in 30 TAC §330.171(c) and (d) Exit the TCEQ, do not require prior written authorization to be accepted.

A note about Class 1 and similar wastes:

  • Special wastes that are Class 1 nonhazardous industrial wastes (except industrial wastes that are designated Class 1 only because of asbestos content), and other special wastes that are not from industrial sources but which may contain constituents of concern at concentrations that equal or exceed the maximum leachable concentrations listed in 30 TAC §335.521(a)(1) Exit the TCEQ) may be accepted at a Type I MSW landfill, but must be disposed in a dedicated Class 1 industrial waste trench that complies with 30 TAC §330.331(e) Exit the TCEQ. Class 1 nonhazardous industrial waste must be accompanied by a waste manifest form.

Prohibited Wastes

The following wastes are prohibited from disposal in any MSW facility by 30 TAC §330.15(e) Exit the TCEQ:

  • Lead-acid storage batteries
  • Do-it-yourself used motor vehicle oil
  • Used oil filters from internal combustion engines
  • Whole used or scrap tires
  • Refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and any other items containing chlorinated fluorocarbon (CFC) (must be handled in accordance with 40 CFR Part 82, §82.156(f) Exit the TCEQ, as amended)
  • Liquid waste (except as allowed in 30 TAC §330.15(e)(6) Exit the TCEQ)
  • Regulated hazardous waste
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) wastes
  • Radioactive materials (except as authorized in 30 TAC Chapter 336, Subchapter CExit the TCEQ or that are subject to an exemption from the Department of State Health Services)

Information for Persons Disposing of Special Waste

When deciding where to send a special waste for disposal, first contact the landfill you are considering to determine if it is able to accept the waste. Some special wastes, identified in 30 TAC §330.171(c) and (d) Exit the TCEQ, do not require prior written authorization for acceptance and disposal, whereas others do. Requests for written authorization to dispose of a special waste must be submitted by the generator to the TCEQ or to a facility with an approved SWAP, pursuant to §330.61(b) Exit the TCEQ and §330.171(b)(2) Exit the TCEQ.

If a particular facility is unable or chooses not to accept a waste, contact the TCEQ Waste Permits Division, or the applicable TCEQ regional office for additional information on disposal options.

To request authorization from the TCEQ, complete and submit the following form with supporting documentation: (Scan completed form and any supporting documentation and email to swaste@tceq.texas.gov for expedited service)

Information for Landfills Accepting Special Waste

MSW landfills may accept special wastes in accordance with 30 TAC §330.171 Exit the TCEQ and §330.173 Exit the TCEQ, subject to provisions and limitations of the facility's authorization; for more information refer to this table summarizing types of waste accepted by MSW landfills (in PDF; help with PDF). Some special wastes (those identified in §330.171(c) and (d) Exit the TCEQ) do not require prior written authorization from the TCEQ before they can be accepted by a landfill, whereas others do.

Wastes that require prior written authorization from the TCEQ must be:

  1. Accompanied by a Request for Authorization for Disposal of a Special Waste (Form TCEQ-0152) (in PDF; help with PDF) completed by the person disposing of the waste and approved by the TCEQ, or
  2. Received, managed, and disposed in accordance with an approved Special Waste Acceptance Plan (SWAP) prepared in accordance with 30 TAC §330.61(b) Exit the TCEQ and §330.171(b)(2) Exit the TCEQ.

Any and all documents, manifests, shipping documents, trip tickets, etc., involving special waste must be retained in the facility operating record in accordance with 30 TAC §330.125(b)(10) Exit the TCEQ. The TCEQ may revoke an authorization to accept special waste if the owner or operator of a facility does not maintain compliance with rules or conditions imposed in the authorization to accept special waste.

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More Information

Please contact us if you have questions about special waste.

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