Treated Wood Waste Disposal in California

Treated Wood Waste Disposal

What is Senate Bill (SB) 68?

As outlined in the California Legislative Information website, Senate Bill (SB) 68 was introduced to extend the Alternative Management Standards (AMS) of Treated Wood Waste (TWW), which allowed for Class II and Class III landfills in California, to accept TWW. As a result of SB 68 being vetoed, the allowance under the AMS for Class II and Class II landfills expired on December 31, 2020.

Based on these actions by the State Governor, beginning on January 1, 2021, Treated Wood Waste is no longer allowed to be accepted for disposal at California landfills.

As of January 1, 2021, all treated wood waste managed in the state of California will be required to be stored and manifested as hazardous waste and transported to a Class I hazardous waste facility to be disposed of properly. Disposal of treated wood waste by utility companies (i.e. electric, gas, phone) remains exempt and allowable pursuant to HSC 25143.1.5, despite the veto of SB 68.

What is Treated Wood?

Treated wood generally means wood materials that have been treated with a chemical preservative for purposes of protecting the wood against attacks from all sorts of unwanted pests, including insects, microorganisms, fungi, and other environmental conditions that can lead to decay and destruction of the wood. The chemical preservative is registered pursuant to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. Sec. 136 et seq.). These preservatives often include one or more of the following constituents: arsenic, chromium, copper, pentachlorophenol and creosote.

What Doesn’t Qualify as Treated Wood?

  • Natural wood with no chemical preservatives.
  • Natural wood coated in paint or surface finish such as lacquer, shellac, polyurethane and varnish.

What Are the Different Types of Treated Wood?

There are two main groups of treated timber preservatives, water-based and oil-based. Wood material treated with water-based preservatives are commonly used as well as are frequently utilized in residential, commercial, marine, agricultural, recreational, as well as industrialized applications. Wood treated with oil-based preservatives is primarily used in industrialized applications such as utility poles, piling, posts, and railway ties.

Chemicals Commonly Used to Treat Wood

Water Based Wood Preservatives

  • Acid Copper Chromate (ACC)
  • Alkaline Copper Quaternary (ACQ)
  • Copper Azole (CA)
  • Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA)
  • Copper-HDO

Oil Based Wood Preservatives

  • Copper Naphthenate
  • Creosote
  • Pentachlorophenol (PCP)

Commonly Applied to Wood Treatments

  • Pressure Treatment
  • Brief Dipping
  • Cold Soaking and Steeping
  • Diffusion

Treated Wood is Commonly Used in the Following Applications

Exterior Applications Applications where the wood will be in direct contact with soil or water Applications where long life is important Utility industry – electric, gas, or telephone service (see HSC 25143.1.5)

Common Wood Species Treated with Oil and Water Based Preservatives?

  • Hem-Fir and Douglas-Fir
  • Pines (e.g. Southern Yellow Pine, Red Pine, Ponderosa Pine)
  • Spruce

Is Treated Wood Waste Toxic?

Treated Wood Waste contains hazardous chemicals that present a risk to human health and wellness and the environment. Arsenic, chromium, copper, creosote, and also pentachlorophenol are among the chemicals used to preserve wood and are known to be toxic or cancer causing. Hazardous exposure to these chemicals can result from touching, breathing in or consuming treated wood waste particles.

If TWW is not correctly disposed of, the chemicals it includes can contaminate ground soil, surface water, and also groundwater. This poses a threat to human health and the environment. TWW may exceed The state of California hazardous waste thresholds for non-RCRA waste; research studies have revealed that TWW is less likely to exceed United States EPA hazardous waste limits for RCRA waste. In California, TWW that is a hazardous material is identified with state hazardous waste code 614.

Review of representative samplings of treated wood material has revealed that it has the possibility to display a hazardous waste attribute of toxicity under California state specifications. Specifically, samples of preserved wood might surpass the Total Threshold Limit Concentration (TTLC) values (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 22, § 66261.24 (a)( 2 )( A).) for metals and may surpass the Soluble Threshold Limit Concentration (STLC) values for metals when subjected to the Waste Extraction Test (WET). Samples of treated wood material might also surpass acute marine toxicity limits (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 22, § 66261.24(a)( 6 ).).

How Can I Tell if My Treated Wood is Hazardous?

Pursuant to California Code of Regulations, title 22, section 66262.11, the generator of a waste is responsible for making a hazardous waste determination.

Quick guidelines to determine if your treated wood is hazardous waste:

  • Always Assume it’s Hazardous Until Otherwise Determined
    • The generator(person or business creating the waste) of treated wood waste has the option to assume that the waste is a hazardous waste and manage it accordingly.
  • Apply Experienced and Knowledge
    • Generators can use their experience and knowledge of waste to make a determination if the treated wood waste is a hazardous waste. For example, they could use their knowledge of the treated wood waste (e.g., type of wood, treatment chemicals used, age of the wood etc.) to help make an informed decision about whether the waste is likely hazardous. Its good practice to document how and on what basis waste is determined hazardous if using generator experience and knowledge.
  • Conduct Sample Testing
    • Treated wood samples can be submitted to a laboratory for testing.

TWW that is determined to be hazardous should be identified with state hazardous waste code 614 on the hazardous waste manifest.

Treated Wood Recommendations and Best Practices

If you are planning a project, try to plan in advance the timing, so you’re prepared to manage any treated wood disposal needs.

If you have the flexibility regarding the timing of your building project and you think you’ll be generating a substantial amount of treated wood waste between January2021 and March 2021, you should consider pushing back your project to avoid additional regulatory requirements. If you must generate treated wood waste in timeframe from January 2021 to March 2021, you should consider the impacts of temporarily storing your waste prior to disposal and plan accordingly. If you choose to store your treated wood waste you must comply with applicable storage requirements.

California is in the process of developing new guidelines for the disposal of treated wood, and the Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC) is recommending that generators of TWW keep it stored safely onsite until the new program is in place, which could be in April 2021, at which time additional flexibility and options for transportation and disposal of treated wood waste will be available.

Where Can I Dispose of Treated Wood Waste in California?

According to the Department Toxic and Control (DTSC) The statute (HSC 25150.7) and regulations (22 CCR 67386.1 et seq.) that allow treated wood waste to be handled with alternative management standards expired December 31, 2020. Starting in January 1, 2021, all hazardous treated wood waste (not exempted by HSC 25143.1.5 as utility generated) managed in California will have to be stored and manifested as hazardous waste and transported to Class I hazardous waste facility for disposal.