Permitting success

Features - Feature

A California C&D/I processing facility serves as a model of a successful permitting plan.

February 19, 2014

The development of a new solid waste facility involves a multitude of tasks, including design, engineering, permitting and construction. Permitting is crucial to the success of the project and must begin early in the process, as it is time consuming and can affect the project’s overall schedule.

This article will describe the successful permitting of a construction and demolition/inert debris (C&D/I) transfer and processing facility in South Gate, Calif., from its inception to the ultimate operation of the facility.


The Construction and Demolition Recycling Inc. facility in South Gate is a fully permitted C&D/I processing and transfer facility. It is owned and operated by Interior Removal Specialist Inc., a company that primarily demolishes the interior of offices and other commercial buildings. The facility is permitted to receive 3,000 tons per day of material and primarily processes material from its own demolition operations as well as C&D debris generated by others. The facility has a high landfill diversion rate and, throughout the past several years, has diverted between 80 and 90 percent of all incoming materials for reuse and recycling.

Since 1994, the company has been family owned and operated. The site originally included 7 acres housing the company’s equipment yard, where it stored its trucks and tools. In 2002, recognizing a growing interest as well as requirements to divert C&D materials, the company embarked on the process to develop its facility.

The facility has obtained four major permits:

  • Conditional Use Permit (CUP) – The CUP is the land-use approval issued by the city. Initially, the facility obtained a CUP from the South Gate Planning Commission in June 2003 to allow for the operation of a processing facility for materials generated by the company’s interior demolition contracting business. In 2007, Amendment No. 1 to the CUP was issued to allow the facility to increase tonnage up to 3,000 tons per day and to process the materials generated by the company and others.
  • California Environmental Quality Act Review – For the initial CUP, the city of South Gate conducted a review of the potential environmental impacts of the proposed facility and approved a Negative Declaration in June 2003, indicating the facility would have no significant impacts on the environment. A Mitigated Negative Declaration was approved for Amendment No. 1 in May 2007.
  • Solid Waste Facility Permit – The County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Solid Waste Management Program issued this permit in 2008, which allows the facility to operate as a transfer/processing facility for C&D/I materials and to process up to 3,000 tons per day. The facility is permitted to operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week and to accept only C&D/I materials. Following the initial permit, in 2013 the facility was required to apply for a five-year permit review and, at that time, amended the permit to incorporate a grinder for processing up to 500 tons of green material per day as a part of the daily permitted capacity of 3,000 tons per day.
  • Stormwater Permit – A Notice of Intent for a General Industrial Stormwater Permit (NPDES) was filed with the California State Water Resources Control Board. In addition, a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and Monitoring Program Plan (MPP) were prepared and implemented at the facility. The SWPPP and MPP detail the steps the facility takes to prevent, control and monitor stormwater runoff.

Solid waste permit process

To obtain a Solid Waste Facility Permit in California, the facility operator must complete and submit to the local enforcement agency (LEA) a solid waste facility permit application and a processing facility report. The requirements for applying for a permit, and the requisite accompanying documents, are detailed in Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Division 7, Chapter 5.

At the outset of the project, it was decided to pursue a full Solid Waste Facility Permit from the state of California with a 3,000-ton-per-day capacity. At the time, the existing quantity of incoming materials would have required a smaller permit, which would have necessitated less time and resources to complete the permitting process. However, it was anticipated that, eventually, the facility would need a larger permit. The effort to go through the permitting process again at a later date, including duplicating some environmental reviews, such as traffic studies, would have resulted in additional costs. Therefore, the company applied for the full permit and decided to develop the facility in phases based on the anticipated tonnage to be processed.

Phase I was proposed to be developed between years one and two, with a facility capacity up to 500 tons per day; Phase II was proposed to be developed in year three, with a capacity up to 1,500 tons per day; and Phase III was proposed between years six and 10, with a capacity of 3,000 tons per day. Phase III was structured to allow the facility to continue at the Phase II terms until such time as the facility tonnage surpassed the 1,500-ton-per-day mark, regardless of timing. This ensured that the facility would not have to purchase expensive equipment to satisfy Phase III requirements before the facility was bringing in enough tonnage to justify the expense.

This phasing of the facility allowed the operator to add equipment and personnel as necessary to process the daily tonnage received.

The application is relatively straight-forward, with check boxes to highlight the types and quantities of material to be accepted and processed, anticipated traffic and hours of operation. The application also asks for information on other permits or approvals that have been obtained or applied for. The application is not considered complete unless accompanied by other approval documents, including the Land Use Permit and Environmental Review as well as the Transfer Processing Report (TPR).

The TPR is the operations and maintenance manual for the facility, and it provides descriptions of facility activities, operations, design and capacity and must describe all methods that will be used to comply with the state minimum standards for solid waste management. The report includes all of the following:

  • A description of the waste receiving activities, including where vehicles will enter the facility, what the weighing procedures are and how the materials will be unloaded in the tipping areas. Individual unloading areas are designated for the receipt of source-separated materials and for materials that require processing. For materials that are not recovered, the waste transfer process is described, including how the transfer vehicles are loaded and any temporary staging of vehicles prior to leaving for a permitted disposal site.
  • The Facility Design Capacity includes calculations to substantiate that the facility can handle the throughput capacity without causing environmental harm or safety problems. The calculation include the number and types of trucks entering the facility and the size and capacity of the receiving areas as well as the anticipated tipping/unloading times and capacities.
  • The types and quantities of materials received at the facility are indicated in the TPR, including the anticipated average annual loadings for the first 10 years of operation. A load-checking program implemented at the facility ensures only the permitted types of materials are accepted at the facility.
  • TPR also must describe the methods the facility will use to comply with the state minimum standards for solid waste handling and disposal, contained in Title 14, CCR, Division 7, Chapter 3. For a complete list, see the sidebar “Staying in Compliance” below.



Receiving approval

SCS Engineers, Pasadena, Calif., was contracted to complete the application, which included the TPR, site plans and other supporting documents. The application package was reviewed by IRS personnel prior to submitting to the LEA. Under state regulations, once the application is accepted by the LEA as complete, and within 60 days of receipt of the application, the LEA must submit the proposed permit package to the state agency CalRecycle (California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery) for review. CalRecycle then has 60 days to concur or object.

The entire process took approximately 3.5 years from commencement of the application through receipt of the Solid Waste Facility Permit. It was considered to be a major accomplishment for getting the facility environmental and permit documents completed and approved in that short amount of time.

The facility continues to expand and recently added green waste processing and transfer operations for materials collected from residential curbside collection programs and commercial landscapers. The facility also is evaluating the potential to host a technology to process waste into renewable energy or other beneficial uses.


This article first appeared in the December 2013 issue of Construction & Demolition Recycling’s sister publication Recycling Today. Michelle P. Leonard, vice president of SCS Engineers, Pasadena, Calif., authored this article with help from Richard Ludt, director of environmental and public affairs/LEED accredited professional, at Interior Removal Specialist Inc. Leonard can be reached via email at