Landfill Operator Certification

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Applicability

A Solid Waste Certified Landfill Operator is required for each permitted landfill in the State of Illinois. A certified operator is required until the Bureau of Land, Permit Section has issued a certificate of closure on the landfill.

Certified Operator" means the person at a landfill who is normally present and accessible. A certified operator may be on the operational staff of no more than three landfills. The certified operator is responsible for directing landfill operations or supervising other operational staff in performing landfill operations, (including, but not limited to the acceptance, distribution, and cover of waste). Every certified operator shall satisfactorily demonstrate to the Agency a practical working knowledge of the design, operation, and maintenance of sanitary landfills.

Applicants can apply for certificates or certificate renewals in any of the following categories:

Solid Waste Site Operator Certification - Landfills which accept non-hazardous solid waste, other than clean construction and demolition debris, and do not accept any special waste, shall employ at least one person who possesses a valid Solid Waste Site Operator Certification. 

Solid Waste Site Operator Certification with a Special Waste Endorsement - Landfills which accept special non-hazardous waste, other than clean construction and demolition debris, and do not accept any special waste, shall employ at least one person who possesses a valid Solid Waste Site Operator Certification with a Special Waste Endorsement. A Special Waste Endorsement shall not be issued to the applicant until the applicant has been issued a Class A Certificate. 

For a Solid Waste Site Operator certificate, the applicant must submit a complete application to the Agency accompanied by a fee ($100). The applicant must demonstrate the following: pursuant to Title 68 IAC 870.210(b):

  1. the applicant is at least 18 years of age;
  2. the applicant has not violated any of the provisions of the Solid Waste Site Operator Certification Law which could result in the refusal to issue, renew, or suspended for cause such certification;
  3. the applicant has either:
    1. a high school diploma or its equivalent, and
      1. not less than 2 years of acceptable study, training, and responsible experience in sanitary landfill operation or management, or
      2. not less than 7 years of acceptable study, training, and responsible experience in operation or management of earth moving equipment; or
    2. has completed:
      1. grammar school or its equivalent, and
      2. not less than 15 years of acceptable study, training, and responsible experience in sanitary landfill operation or management, and
  4. the names and phone numbers of no fewer than 3 references.

Beginning on January 1, 2023, the Solid Waste Landfill Site Operator Certification Law, 225 ILCS 230, et seq., authorizes Illinois EPA to issue Solid Waste Landfill Site Operator Certifications to applicants who previously received a passing score on the Illinois EPA-administered certification exam if those applicants demonstrate the completion of 15 hours of continuing education during their previous certification period. The law was also changed to authorize new applicants to obtain a certification by passing either an Illinois EPA-administered exam or an Illinois EPA-approved exam. To date, there are no approved third-party exams. Entities interested in seeking approval to administer a certification exam should send an email to Evan.Yates@illinois.gov .

Landfill Operator Certification (New applicants)

Any person who does not have an active Solid Waste Landfill Site Operator Certification may obtain one by submitting a completed application to Illinois EPA and passing an exam administered or approved by Illinois EPA. Interested applicants should identify a preferred exam date from the Illinois EPA's exam schedule and request that date by sending a message to the email address above. Illinois EPA cannot confirm an individual applicant's exam date until after receiving a completed application and the necessary fee. Applications and fees should be submitted to:

            Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
            Attn: Materials Management and Compliance Section – Mail Code# 24
            1021 North Grand Avenue East
            Springfield, Illinois 62702

Landfill Operator Certification (Renewal)

Every three years, on or before October 1, a Certified Solid Waste Landfill Site Operator shall renew their certification. See 225 ILCS 230/1010(c). To renew a Certification, an applicant must submit a completed application to Illinois EPA at the above address. For applicants that have an active Landfill Operator Certification, the application must include an itemized list of the continuing education completed during the previous certification period. Any applicant that does not have an active Landfill Operator Certification, but did in the past, will need to successfully pass the written exam. Applicants must complete continuing education in each of the following subject matters:

  • Unloading, spreading, and compacting of waste, litter collection, and vector abatement;
  • Traffic control of vehicles delivering waste;
  • Application, maintenance, and inspection of cover and cover requirements under Illinois Pollution Control Board rules and Illinois EPA permits;
  • Fire control, on-site personnel safety requirements, and contingency plan implementation;
  • Leachate control operation, leachate management, and landfill gas management;
  • Identification of classes of waste;
  • Causes for revocation or suspension of certificates;
  • Reporting and recordkeeping required by Illinois Pollution Control Board and Illinois EPA regulations and Illinois EPA permits;
  • Financial assurance and groundwater monitoring requirements;
  • Development and implementation of contingency plans, closure plans, post closure plans, and corrective action; and,
  • Requirements for payment of fees.

Any applicant seeking a special waste certification must also complete continuing education in the acceptance and disposal of special waste.

A list of pre-approved continuing education is included below. An applicant may seek approval of non-preapproved continuing education by submitting a form (this form is currently in development) for each continuing education course or activity with its application.

Continuing Education Requirements

Course Certification
 
Continuing education courses or activities must be approved by Illinois EPA for an applicant to receive credit towards satisfying the requirements for Certification renewal. Courses or activities may be approved for continuing education credit in advance or following completion. Failure to demonstrate completion of sufficient approvable continuing education will result in denial of a Certification renewal. 

To obtain approval for use as continuing education credit, continuing education providers should complete and submit a Continuing Education Course Credit Certification Form and accompanying course materials to Evan.Yates@illinois.gov. Illinois EPA will notify course providers of approval or denial of their request for credit within 45 calendar days. In general, one credit hour of credit will be awarded for every sixty minutes of course or activity time. A list of approved courses, the subject matter(s) for which the course is approved, and the number of hours of credit awarded for the course is included below (in development).

CourseProviderSubject(s)DateCredit Hours
     
     

 
Course providers should issue attendees a record of attendance and, if applicable, the number of preapproved continuing education hours. The record should include the attendee's name, the provider's name, the course name, and the date of completion.

Course Attendees

Any person attending a continuing education course or activity for use as part of a Landfill Operator Certification renewal should keep records reflecting the name of the course or activity attended, the date the course or activity was completed, the duration of the course or activity in hours and, if applicable, the number of pre-approved credit hours for the course or activity. To obtain continuing education credit for completed courses or activities not identified above, an applicant should complete and submit a Continuing Education Course Credit Certification Form and accompanying course materials to Evan.Yates@illinois.gov.

Fees:

  • New Application: $100
  • Solid Waste Site Operator Certification Examination: $400
  • Special Waste Endorsement Exam: $100 
  • Make checks payable to "Treasurer, State of Illinois"
Mailing Application: Please mail the New/Renewal Application and the Application Fee to Illinois EPA, Bureau of Land #24, 1021 North Grand Avenue East, P.O. Box 19276, Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276.

Late Fee: $50 - if all renewal fees are not submitted prior to November 1, following a certificate's expiration

Certificate Validity: Solid Waste Site Operator and Special Waste Endorsement Certifications are valid for a period of 3 years, with the expiration date being 3 years from the first day of October of the calendar year in which the certificate is issued.

New Operator Requirements: New applications must be received by Illinois EPA 30 calendar days in advance of the exam date. Applications received less than 30 days prior to the exam date will be reviewed for the next exam date. 

Renewal Requirements: *If your landfill operator certificate expired in 2022 or earlier, you must take the exam in person.

Retesting: In the event of failing an exam, the exam may be retaken at the next regularly scheduled exam date unless the applicant has failed three times, in which case, the applicant must wait one year to retake the exam.

For Landfill Operator Certification Program questions, please contact Evan Yates. For the Bureau of Land permitting questions, call 217-524-3301. For all other questions, call 217-524-3300.

Number of Applicants for CY 21 and CY 22: 51. All approved. No reported historic criminal convictions. 225 ILCS 230/1005-s(d).

Landfill Operator Certification Regulations