Court Denies Citizens’ Group Claim that Road Salt Is Solid Waste Under RCRA

By John Dalo

A recent decision from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a citizens’ group claim that a municipality’s use of road salt during winter weather events constitutes solid waste disposal under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”). 

The court held that the road salt (sodium chloride and sodium ferrocyanide) did not meet the statutory definition of “solid waste” under RCRA.   Specifically, road salt was deemed not to be solid waste because the salt was applied for its intended purpose and was not considered a discarded waste under RCRA.  

This case falls in line with the well-settled principle that industrial materials are not considered solid waste under RCRA until they are actually discarded and have no further beneficial use to consumers.  Accordingly, manufacturers and owners of industrial sites should maintain clearly drafted policies and protocols regarding the re-use and recycling of by-products.  Such policies could potentially dispel claims that materials have been “discarded” for purposes of RCRA.