Environmental Enforcement Section:
Solid Waste Pollution

Before discussing solid waste law, it may be worthwhile to look at some figures that suggest the magnitude of this problem. The TCEQ informs us that since 1986 more than 700 landfills have closed.footnote 1 This is particularly interesting when viewed in conjunction with Texas population data. In 1986 Texas had 16,563,000 residents.footnote 2 We now have over 22 million citizens living in this state. Sadly, however, this gain of nearly 6 million people means that a lot of extra trash is ending up in places other than authorized landfills.

Texas Solid Waste Laws and the Major Provisions

Simply put, most laws addressing enforcement relating to solid waste are found in the Texas Health and Safety Code. The major provisions are Chapter 361, “The Solid Waste Disposal Act;” Chapter 365, and “The Texas Litter Abatement Act.” These laws address issues of solid waste control, litter and illegal dumping. In short, if litter, trash, or waste offenses are suspected, the first place to look is the Texas Health and Safety Code.footnote 3

Key Solid Waste Definitions

dumping PagePic

Texas Health and Safety Code 361, 365
30 Texas Administrative Code 330
(Texas Commission on Environmental Quality)


Texas Health and Safety Code 365.011(6)

Solid Waste

Texas Health and Safety Code 361.003(35)

Approved Waste Site

Texas Health and Safety Code 365.011(1)

General Areas of Solid Waste Regulation

Texas Health and Safety Code 361
30 TAC 330 Subchapter A
(Texas Commission on Environmental Quality)

Possible Civil Violations and Remedies

Texas Water Code 7.101, 7.102

Possible Criminal Violations and Remedies

Texas Health and Safety Code 365.012

  1. TCEQ Environmental Planning and Implementation Division. 2002 (Electronic publication). Municipal Solid Waste, A Year in Review; 2002 Data Summary and Analysis; Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Interestingly, the TCEQ states that this decline in numbers has actually resulted in more capacity - due to increased compaction technology.
  2. Murdock, Steve H. 2002. (Electronic Publication) Texas Population Growth Continues: Now Larger than New York and Growing Faster than California; Texas State Data Center and Office of the State Demographer.
  3. The Health and Safety Code also contains nuisance provisions:
    Chapter 341, Nuisances and General Sanitation;
    Chapter 343, Abatement of Public Nuisances.