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a solid or hazardous waste complaint to the DNR.
Contact information
For information on beneficial use of industrial byproducts, contact:
Phil Fauble
Waste & Materials Management Program

Beneficial use of industrial byproducts

Wisconsin's voluntary beneficial use of industrial byproducts program encourages beneficial use of industrial byproducts as an alternative to sending these materials solid waste landfills. These industrial byproducts include:

  • paper mill sludge;
  • ash from energy recovery, including coal ash and slag, material captured in flue gas desulfurization systems;
  • ferrous and steel foundry excess system sand and slag;
  • lime kiln dust; and
  • non-hazardous solid waste with similar characteristics as determined by the DNR.

The program encourages the use of industrial byproducts to preserve resources, conserve energy and reduce or eliminate the need for landfill disposal, as well as reduce the need for additional quarries and soil borrow pits. Approximately three million tons of industrial byproducts are generated in Wisconsin each year. Unless alternate uses for these materials are developed, they are sent to licensed solid waste landfills.

State law [s. 289.05 (4), Wis. Stats.] encourages beneficial use of industrial byproducts. Since the law passed in 1985, the DNR has approved many beneficial uses, at first on a case-by-case basis, then under general exemptions. Chapter NR 538, Wis. Adm. Code, is the latest step in the evolution of using industrial byproducts in a beneficial way.

How to participate in the program

Most beneficial uses allowed under ch. NR 538, Wis. Adm. Code [PDF exit DNR], can proceed without specific DNR approval. However, regional staff assigned to the beneficial use program review larger proposed projects to evaluate potential impacts on human health or the environment. Regional staff also review and approve beneficial uses for industrial byproducts not specified by rule and evaluate other waste materials for beneficial uses. Please contact your regional beneficial use program staff located in the DNR region your facility is located if you should have any questions concerning participation in the program or the type of beneficial use of the material.

Chapter NR 538 governs this program and establishes five categories of industrial byproducts by determining the chemical characteristics of the material to determine their impact on the environment. The rule also provides 12 pre-approved beneficial uses for these materials.

The first step to participate in the program is to characterize the byproduct material(s) your company intends to beneficially use. Once the byproduct material has been characterized properly and the results sent to the DNR, your company may beneficially use this material.

Once you qualify for participation in the program, you will be required to keep records of your beneficial use projects, report the amount of material you generate and beneficially use to the DNR annually and retest your byproduct material at designated intervals.

The industrial byproducts listed at the top of this page, along with some other types of solid waste, may be suitable for use in public works projects.

Last revised: Wednesday April 12 2017