Fact Sheet: Solid Waste Facility Permits

Who Needs a Solid Waste Facility Permit?

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) regulates solid waste handling, processing and disposal activities. These include the operation of landfills, transfer-processing stations, material recovery facilities, compost facilities and waste to energy facilities. Until recently, virtually all solid waste handling activities were subject to the requirement of first obtaining a “full” solid waste facility permit or an exemption from the requirement of obtaining this permit from the local enforcement agency (LEA) with jurisdiction over the proposed site. CalRecycle must concur in the issuance of the full permit before it is issued.

CalRecycle has implemented regulations which exclude some activities from permitting requirements, allow others to operate after making a notification to the LEA, and many others to operate with less burdensome forms of a permit. Some activities still require the full solid waste facility permit.

There are five tiers of regulation for solid waste handling activities:

  1. Excluded Solid Waste Handling
  2. Enforcement Agency Notification
  3. Registration Permit
  4. Standardized Permit
  5. Full Permit

The first two tiers do not require a solid waste facility permit, while the latter three do. The tier in which an activity is slotted depends not only on the type of activity, but also the type and amount of solid waste being handled.

Where Should a Prospective Operator Apply?

A prospective operator should contact the local enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the proposed activity to determine into which tier the proposed activity falls. Any applicable notification or permit application would then be made to that LEA.

When there is no LEA, CalRecycle acts as the enforcement agency. The applicant may contact CalRecycle at:

1001 I Street
PO Box 4025
Sacramento, CA 95812-4025
(916) 341-6329

What Information Should a Prospective Operator Provide Upon Application?

Whether an application is required and what information must be submitted varies considerably depending on which tier an activity is placed. Should an application be required, it must be made on a form approved by CalRecycle for that tier. The appropriate application form and information on what materials should accompany the application form may be obtained from the LEA, or CalRecycle where there is no LEA.

What Application Fee Should the Applicant Submit?

The LEAs may charge a filing fee which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

How Does the LEA and CalRecycle Evaluate and Process the Application?

The level of evaluation and processing depends on the type of activity and into what tier it falls. For more information on evaluation, processing, and timelines, contact the applicable LEA or CalRecycle.

What Are the Developer-Applicant’s (Operator’s) Rights and Responsibilities After a Permit Is Granted?

The permit gives the applicant the right to operate the facility as described in the application package. It also describes the conditions placed on the facility’s operations. The conditions in the registration and standardized permits are set forth in regulation. LEAs may specify unique conditions only in full permits.

Should an operator propose to change the design and/or operation of the facility, it may be necessary to file an application for a new permit in the case of the registration and standardized permits, or file an application to the LEA to modify or revise a full permit at least 150 days prior to implementing the change(s). The determination as to the need to apply for a new, revised, or modified permit rests primarily with the LEA.

Operators of solid waste facilities with standardized or registration permits must notify the LEA if a person, who owns property on which the solid waste facility is located, is encumbering, selling, transferring, or conveying the property, or part thereof, or allowing the property, or part thereof, to be encumbered, sold transferred, or conveyed. The operator shall notify the enforcement agency at least 15 days prior to such action by the owner, or within 7 days of receiving notice of such action by the owner, whichever comes first.

An owner or operator of a facility or disposal site operating under a full permit who plans to encumber, sell, transfer, or convey the ownership or operations of the facility or disposal site shall notify the LEA and CalRecycle 45 days prior to the date of the anticipated transfer.

What Are the Enforcement Agencies’ Rights and Responsibilities After the Permit Is Granted?

Any activity falling into any of the five tiers may be inspected by the enforcement agency. Activities falling into the excluded solid waste handling tier may be inspected to determine if the activity truly belongs in that tier. If in the other tiers, the LEA may inspect to determine whether it is operating within the State Minimum Standards for Solid Waste Handling and Disposal as listed in regulation.

Permitted facilities (whether registration, standardized, or full) are inspected monthly. The LEA may conduct periodic investigations, as it deems necessary (for example, in response to a written allegation), to insure compliance with all enactments. If the LEA, or CalRecycle if the LEA fails to do so, determines that a facility violates the permit, the law or regulations pertaining to CalRecycle, and/or poses an imminent threat to life or health, it may take action to correct the situation. Under some circumstances, the operator may be charged for any costs incurred.

LEAs may take action to modify, suspend, or revoke permits when they determine that:

  • The operator has violated a term or condition of the permit.
  • The operator misrepresented or failed to disclose facts in obtaining the permit.
  • The facility’s operator has not complied with the law or the rules and regulations of CalRecycle or the local agency.
  • Such action is necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare and the environment.

Enforcement agencies shall enforce the state and local minimum standards for solid waste collection, handling, storage, and disposal for the protection of the environment and for the protection of the public health and safety.

What Other Agencies Should the Applicant Contact?

Those seeking to engage in a solid waste related activity should investigate the permit authority of the following agencies to determine whether they have jurisdiction over the project:


  • City or county health department (LEA)
  • Building department
  • Sanitation department
  • Planning department


  • The appropriate regional water quality control board
  • The appropriate air pollution control or air quality management district
  • Dept. of Toxic Substances Control
  • California Coastal Commission
  • Department of Fish and Game
  • Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

For more information visit the Permit Toolbox.

What Other Sources of Information Are Available to the Applicant?

Prospective operators may refer to the publications listed below for more information on solid waste facility regulation. These publications are generally available for review at CalRecycle, LEA offices, county law libraries, and the State Library in Sacramento. You may purchase Title 14 or Title 27 of the California Code of Regulations from Barclays Law Publishers at (415) 244-6611. Links to the official versions are available on our site.

Permit Toolbox

For more information contact: LEA Support Services, PermitTrainingAssistance@calrecycle.ca.gov