Composting Regulations

There are both federal and state regulations governing compost regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for these regulations.

In Illinois, the Illinois EPA regulates compost application rates, permits, and siting regulations. The application of landscape waste or compost derived from landscape waste to agricultural land is limited by law to 20 tons per acre per year.

Authorization for higher rates can be granted by the Illinois EPA for specific sites and under the advice of an authorized agronomist. Requests for a higher rate must be made in writing to the Illinois EPA.

Illinois EPA General Application Permit Information

Site Selection

Permits are not required from Illinois EPA for Farm Landscape Waste Compost Sites if:

  1. The site is located on the farm on which the compost is applied.
  2. The site is operated by the farmer of the property.
  3. The farmland is in production of crops annually.
  4. The size of the compost site is less than two percent of the acreage of the property.
  5. The site is not owned or controlled by a waste hauler or commercial composter.
  6. The farmer registers the site with the Illinois EPA by January 1 following commencement of operation and files a report each year thereafter.
  7. Additives to the landscape waste such as manure do not exceed 10 percent by volume.
  8. Appropriate setbacks are followed including:
    • 200 ft. from a well
    • 5 ft. above the water table
    • one-fourth mi. from nearest non-farm residence
    • one-half mi. from nearest populated area
    • the site is located outside of the 10-yr. floodplain or is flood-proofed
Generally, livestock waste composting on the farm may be conducted and the finished compost applied to farmland without a permit from the Illinois EPA.

A compost permit is not required if livestock manure is mixed with farm generated carbon sources such as corn stalks or wheat straw.


desirable composting operation

Permits Needed

Steps in Preparation of Application for Siting Permits

  1. Site Identification
  2. Facility Description
  3. Permit Requested
  4. Applicant Identification
  5. Proof of Land Ownership and Certification
  6. Site Location Map
  7. Site Plan Map
  8. Narrative Description of the Facility
  9. Closure Plan
  10. Financial Assurance
  11. Public Notification Including:
    • Local members of the General Assembly
    • Owners of all real-estate property within 250 ft. of the proposed permit boundaries
    • Publication in a daily newspaper in circulation in the city or county that the facility resides
  12. Required Signatures and Certifications:
    • Signed by operator and property owner
    • All designs in the application must be prepared by, or in the supervision of, a professional engineer
    • Signed by the person responsible for application preparation

Questions about composting siting or other permits should be addressed to:

Illinois EPA
Bureau of Land
Bureau of Water
2200 Churchill Road
P.O. Box 19276
Springfield, IL 62794-9276
Phone: 217-524-3300
Website: www.epa.state.il.us

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University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Agricultural Consumer & Environmental Sciences University of Illinois Extension