A department staff member, holding a 3-ring binder that states "Permits 101"

Nearly everything we do leaves behind some kind of waste. If improperly managed, both hazardous and non-hazardous waste can adversely affect Missouri's air, land and water and the people, plants and animals that rely on these resources. Issuing permits, licenses and registrations are a key component in managing waste in Missouri. The department works closely with businesses; local, state and federal governments and the public to ensure our permitting processes work to protect our state’s citizens and the environment. Below is a broad overview of the different aspects and factors considered in Missouri’s waste-related permitting processes.

What is considered a waste?

In general, waste is a material that is not wanted, or is the unusable remains or byproducts of something. The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) created the framework for managing hazardous and non-hazardous waste in the United States. Materials regulated by RCRA are known as “solid wastes", which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defined in Code of Federal Regulations 40 C.F.R. § 261.2, which is incorporated by reference in Code of State Regulations 10 CSR 25-4.261.

Hazardous waste is a subset of "solid wastes". Only materials that meet the definition of solid waste under RCRA can be classified as hazardous waste, which are subject to additional regulation. A hazardous waste is any solid waste that is ignitable, corrosive, reactive (tendency to react or explode), toxic or specifically listed as a hazardous waste in state or federal regulations. Hazardous waste listings and definitions can be found in 40 C.F.R. Part 261 Subpart C and 40 C.F.R. Part 261 Subpart D. Businesses likely to generate hazardous waste include automobile repair shops, printers, dry cleaners, photo processors, furniture manufacturers and refinishers, pest control services, laboratories, chemical manufacturers, universities, automobile factories and lumber-treating facilities. To determine if your business might generate hazardous waste, visit EPA's Typical Wastes Generated by Industry Sectors.

Like most things in life, "some exclusions may apply." Some materials that would otherwise fit the definitions of a solid or hazardous waste under RCRA are specifically excluded from the definitions. Some material is excluded because it is already regulated under another federal law. Other materials may be excluded because there was not enough information on the material to justify its regulation or it is impractical to regulate the material. Excluded materials can be found in 40 C.F.R. § 261.4. For more information, visit EPA's Frequent Questions About Hazardous Waste Identification.

What types of waste-related permits, licenses and registrations are required?

The specific type of waste-related permit, license or registration that may be required depends on the type of waste a company manages and how that waste is being managed. For example, companies transporting certain wastes may need a special permit or license, while others that process or dispose specific types of solid or hazardous waste may need a permit.

Companies that generate hazardous waste may be required to register with the department, depending on the amount of hazardous waste they generate. Companies that store those wastes according to the applicable Missouri hazardous waste generator regulations and do not treat or land dispose those wastes are typically not required to get a hazardous waste permit. 

Companies that want to actively treat, store (beyond the time allowed for Missouri hazardous waste generators) or dispose hazardous waste in Missouri are required to get a hazardous waste permit. Some "non-operating" hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facilities that have legacy contamination and long-term stewardship obligations due to releases from historical operations may be required to get a hazardous waste permit to investigate, monitor and clean up releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents to the environment at and from their facility. For more information about the different waste-related permits, licenses and registration requirements, visit Permits, Licenses, Registrations and Fees.

How do waste-related permits, licenses and registrations protect public health and the environment?

Waste-related permits, licenses and registrations allow the recipients to perform the waste management activities associated with that permit, license or registration. This can include waste characterization, reporting, transportation, storage, treatment and disposal, as well as investigation and cleanup of releases to the environment. Waste-related permits, licenses and registrations are issued after the department reviews the applications and supporting documents. The department’s technical staff, which includes engineers and scientists, review applications to make sure the operations proposed follow state and federal laws and regulations. With regards to permits, this review also includes studying the facilities design, construction and operation plans for sound engineering practices.

Permits are legally binding, enforceable documents that list how and what kind of waste a company can treat/ process, store or dispose. Issued permits include many requirements, such as requiring the Permittee to submit detailed plans outlining how the facility will remove and clean their equipment, structures and soil when they stop operating. Depending on the type of facility and wastes managed, state and federal laws and regulations may require the companies to provide financial assurance documenting that they have enough money set aside to close the facility, cleanup any waste releases, monitor during any required post-closure period and retain insurance to compensate third parties for bodily injury or property damage resulting from releases that might occur. These funds must be available until all closure, post-closure care and corrective action activities are completed, even if the facility declares bankruptcy.

After a permit is issued, if issues or concerns arise during the permits term, the permit requirements can be modified. Permit modifications are most often needed to respond to the company's business needs and, less often, to respond to changes in applicable laws and regulations. After a permit is issued, the department continues to oversee the implementation of the permitted activities, including performing routine facility inspections for compliance with applicable state, federal and permit requirements. If a facility is found to be out of compliance with the regulations or permit, the department takes appropriate steps to return the facility to compliance. Regulatory oversight of permitted facilities is provided by the department until the facility completes all applicable permitted and final closure activities.

The permitting and financial assurance requirements, combined with ongoing department oversight of facility operations, helps prevent waste releases from occurring. Requirements for investigation and cleanup protect the public from being exposed to a waste release, should one occur. For more information about the various state and federal regulations, visit Citizens Guide to Waste-Related Rules and Regulations.

How can you get involved in the waste-related permitting process?

The department firmly believes those who must live with the outcome of an environmental decision should know what is going on, have the opportunity to raise relevant concerns and have an active role in the decision-making process. The public can provide valuable information and ideas that can help the department reach better technical solutions, improve the quality of decisions about human health and environmental protection and address environmental justice and other community-based concerns. The department's solid waste and hazardous waste permitting processes provide opportunities for the public to review and provide written comments on draft permits. The department also holds public meetings and hearings, as appropriate or as requested by the public, to provide a forum for expressing ideas and concerns and receiving written or oral comments. For a list of currently available waste-related public comment periods and public meetings, visit Waste and Recycling Public Notices/ Public Comments

If you would like to know something about a particular facility or have the permitting processes explained to you, please call the department's Waste Management Program. A department contact is listed on all facility-specific fact sheets, public notices and various printed materials. If there are several individuals that would like something explained, you can ask to meet with the department or have a public meeting. You can also contact the company seeking a permit and ask for additional information and potentially meet with their staff or tour the facility. 

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