Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Idaho Environmental Guide for Local Governments: Solid Waste

Solid waste is 1) any garbage or refuse; 2) sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility; or 3) other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations and from community activities. It does not include solid or dissolved materials in domestic sewage, irrigation return flows, or industrial discharges.

Why Communities Should Care

Counties are required to manage solid waste within their jurisdictions. The county's responsibility is to establish ordinances to ensure proper management of solid waste. Part of this involves determining if the county wants to manage its own waste using a landfill, incinerator, or other in-county waste management option, or use a transfer station to haul the waste to another county or state.

Every waste management facility must meet siting, design, operation, closure, and post-closure requirements. Counties must obtain multiple approval from DEQ or the Public Health District before new municipal solid waste landfills can accept waste. Review and approval authority is delegated as follows:

DEQ review/approval authority

  • Location restrictions and site certification
  • Standards for design
  • Ground water monitoring
  • Financial assurance for closure/post-closure care and corrective action

Public Health District review/approval authority

  • Standards for operation
  • Standards for closure
  • Standards for post-closure care

What Communities Can Do

  • Prior to project approval, request that project information specify applicability of requirements under the Idaho Solid Waste Facilities Act and Idaho's Solid Waste Management Rules. Types of waste management facilities and associated rules that cities and counties should be aware of include the following:
  • Understand how waste will be managed prior to approving projects. No trash or other solid waste should be buried, burned, or otherwise disposed of at any site that is not permitted. Disposal methods are regulated by various state regulations. Solid waste management facilities or landfills can be privately or publicly owned. If a municipal solid waste landfill is privately owned, it is required to apply for review by a site review panel, receive a siting license from DEQ, and pay a site license fee to cover the cost of reviewing the site license application.
  • Plan ahead. With the following efforts, local governments can better manage waste:
    • Determine the capacity, life expectancy, and expansion limits of a landfill.
    • Reduce waste to increase the life expectancy of the landfill by preventing generation of waste, reusing waste, composting, and recycling.
    • Recycling, like garbage collection in Idaho, is an optional service provided at the discretion of local governments or by private recycling companies. The level of recycling service (curbside vs. self-haul) and the type of commodities collected (paper, aluminum, etc.) differ depending on resources available and a community's geographical location to recycling markets (different commodities may have different markets). Because each community has unique resources, the recycling and diversion solutions for one community may differ from those of another. Determine what works best for the community.
    • Develop a "pay-as-you-throw" program where citizens pay for each can or bag of trash set out for disposal rather than a flat fee. When households reduce waste at the source by consuming less, reusing waste, or recycling, they dispose of less trash and pay lower trash bills. This can help extend the life of landfills.
    • Implement a green purchasing policy in city and county departments to reduce the toxicity and quantity of items purchased and increase the purchase of products with higher recycling content and durability.
    • Divert green waste from the landfill. Wood and yard waste, such as lumber, pruned branches, shrubs or bushes, stumps, whole trees, leaves, and grass clippings, can come from construction, demolition, and maintenance of streets, yards, and parks. Such waste represents a significant part of the total amount of solid waste disposed of. Recycling and reuse activities for wood and yard waste include wood chipping for fuel supplements at electricity co-generation plants; mulching for landscaping, compost feedstock, and cattle bedding; and composting for soil amendment.
    • Develop a reuse and disposal program for household hazardous wastes such as latex and oil-based paint, stain and primer, wood care products, cleaning products, automotive products, and fertilizers.
  • Remember that owners and operators of solid waste management sites have the ultimate say in what they will and will not accept, as long as it does not conflict with state requirements. Such sites may choose to reject, for instance, untreated medical waste, electronic waste, animal waste, and household hazardous waste. Alternative management options should be considered if certain waste streams are not accepted for disposal at the local landfill. Additionally, local governments have the authority to implement ordinances to better manage solid waste beyond federal and state regulations and laws. Determine what is best for the health and welfare of the community.