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Contact information
For information about managing hazardous waste, contact:
Mike Ellenbecker
Hazardous waste program coordinator

Hazardous waste overview

In Wisconsin, there are currently about 11,000 businesses, schools and government institutions that generate varying quantities and types of hazardous waste. The number of hazardous waste generators and the quantity of hazardous waste generated has declined in recent years, mostly due to successful waste minimization efforts, the economy and the cost of disposal.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources operates a federally authorized hazardous waste regulatory program. Staff in this program help to protect Wisconsin's ground and surface water, air and soil by working with hazardous waste generators and facilities to ensure hazardous wastes are properly managed.

Determining if your business generates hazardous waste

State and federal law requires businesses and institutions to determine if their waste is hazardous. A business can determine if it generates hazardous waste by carefully reviewing ch. NR 661, Wis. Adm. Code, and by answering the following questions.

  1. Is the material solid waste?
  2. Is it excluded from the hazardous waste rules?
  3. Is it a listed or characteristic hazardous waste?
  4. Is it a mixture containing hazardous waste, or is it derived from hazardous waste?

The publication Is Your Waste Hazardous? (WA-1152) [PDF]can also assist you in the hazardous waste identification process.

Hazardous waste generator classifications

If your business or institution generates hazardous waste, you must comply with certain requirements, depending on the quantity of hazardous waste you generate during any given month. There are three hazardous waste generator categories: 1) very small quantity, 2) small quantity and 3) large quantity generators. All hazardous waste generators must make a waste determination and properly dispose of their hazardous waste. Additional requirements apply based on the generator classification.

For more information on the generator categories and the requirements that apply, see ch. NR 662, Wis. Adm. Code [PDF exit DNR].

Hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal

Facilities that treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste must be licensed by the DNR, unless the activity is specifically exempt from the licensing requirement.

Wisconsin is home to 14 licensed hazardous waste management facilities. Some Wisconsin companies have a license only to store or treat the hazardous waste they generate. Commercial hazardous waste facilities manage hazardous waste generated by businesses and institutions in Wisconsin, as well as other states and foreign countries. Wisconsin's commercial hazardous waste facilities recycle hazardous waste solvents and mercury, fuel blend hazardous wastes for energy recovery, store hazardous wastes before treatment at other licensed hazardous waste facilities, and treat hazardous wastes to facilitate disposal. There are no operating hazardous waste disposal facilities (landfills) in Wisconsin.

See facility lists for lists of hazardous waste treatment and storage facilities.

Household hazardous waste

Residential hazardous waste is not subject to Wisconsin's hazardous waste rules unless it is segregated from normal household trash for management. Facilities that collect household hazardous waste must follow the collection facility requirements in ch. NR 666, subch. HH, Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR].

Residents should contact their local solid waste department for information about additional collection events scheduled in their area.

Last revised: Friday June 20 2014