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Solid Waste Permitting Protocol for On-Farm Compost Operations

Barn GIF
February 10, 2000

Cow GraphicOn-Farm Composting Rules:

Rules for On-farm Composting operations are based on feedstock qualities.  Whatcom County Health and Human Services (HHS) determines, on a case-by-case basis, whether a Solid Waste Handling (SW) Permit is necessary.·        


All composting operations must incorporate the compost-related processes into a NRCS Farm Plan or WCD Nutrient Management Plan.  HHS will review the farm/nutrient plan for regulatory compliance.  The plan must include the following information:

  1. Process type & description (aerated static pile or windrow)
  2. Facility design & site plan (enclosed building, concrete pad, dimensions, capacity)
  3. Leachate collection system
  4. Feedstock description (type, volumes, source)
  5. Estimated volume of end product and end product uses

Feedstock Tiers

Tier 1 – On-farm composting of the following feedstocks MAY not require a SW permit

Tier 2 – On-farm composting of the following feedstocks requires case-by-case review to determine whether a SW permit is required:

Decisions will be based on volume of feedstock and facility design.

Tier 3 – Composting of the following feedstocks requires a SW permit:

As other feedstock types arise, they will be evaluated by HHS and added to the appropriate Feedstock Tier.

Compost Quality Regulations

Compost produced from Tier 3 feedstock must be Registered for Quality with HHS.  The Compost Quality Regulations (WCC 24.09) applies to compost produced from any risky feedstock. 

Compost from Tier 1 or Tier 2 feedstock is exempt from Quality Registration.  However, an on-farm composter of an exempted feedstock may voluntarily apply for Compost Quality Registration from HHS.

Compost Registration requires some quality testing during the first year of compost production.  Further testing will be required periodically.  Typically, the tests required by the regulation are “built-into” the SW permit. 

When a facility has a SW permit, there is not an additional charge for compost registration.  If the registration is voluntary, the cost is $550.00 per year.


For more information please contact:

Whatcom County Health & Human Services