How to Dispose of Pressure-Treated Wood in California

pressure treated wood

Are you wondering how to dispose of pressure-treated wood in California? You’re in the right place! In this article, we discuss where and how to dispose of your treated lumber in California. 

In California, treated lumber is toxic waste. As such, treated lumber is regulated by the Department of Toxic Substances Control. To dispose of treated lumber in California, you must find a treated wood waste disposal site and contact them for their specific procedures. 

In the sections below, we will discuss some of the common procedures for disposing of treated wood waste (TWW). Also, we will share several tips for recognizing old-treated wood.  

Let’s jump right in! 

How to Throw Away Treated Wood in California 

In California, pressure-treated lumber is a regulated waste. As a result, when you need to dispose of treated wood, you will need to follow your local government’s guidelines for doing so. 

Before you load up all your old treated wood and begin hauling to the nearest waste management location, take some time to research the process. Doing your homework will prevent hang-ups and ensure the process runs smoothly. 

In the next section, we go over some general guidelines for disposing of treated wood in California. 

Process for Disposing of Pressure Treated Wood in California

In this section, we discuss the steps for disposing of treated wood in California. As you know, California is a big state. Every area of the state may have a slightly different process for disposing of treated lumber. 

I will share with you an example of how some areas handle treated wood – just know that this is just a reference – you’ll need to research your local protocols!

Steps to dispose of treated lumber in California: 

  1. Contact your local government for treated wood waste (TWW) disposal guidelines. 
  2. Be prepared to fill out an application. 
  3. Make sure you remove as many nails, screws, and fasteners from the wood as reasonably possible. The landfill doesn’t want rusty nails protruding from the wood. 
  4. Your area may require a fee. Due to the size and proportions of some pressure-treated lumber, some areas may also charge a Hard-to-Handle fee. 
  5. Depending on the size and type of shipment, you may be required to have a bill of lading.

In the next section, we discuss where you can dispose of treated lumber in California. 

Where Can I Dispose of Pressure Treated Wood in California 

Here is a list of areas that allow the disposal of pressure-treated lumber. Also known as treated wood waste (TWW). 

Places to dispose of pressure-treated wood in California: 

You can check out the DTSC website for a complete list of areas to dispose of pressure-treated lumber. 

Does it Cost Money to Dispose of Pressure Treated Lumber in California? 

If you thought disposing of your treated lumber would be free, then you may be disappointed. 

Large loads of treated lumber for disposal are likely to charge a fee. And since treated lumber is a toxic waste, you may be charged an extra handling fee. 

For some areas, this amounts to about $50/ton. However, call ahead and ask your local disposal site about their fees. 

What is a Tipping Fee? 

If you’re disposing of a large load of pressure-treated lumber, you will likely pay a tipping fee. The tipping fee is just another name for the gate fee you will pay after weighing your shipment. 

If you only have a small amount of treated wood to dispose of, contact your local waste management to see if the fee will still apply. 

Bad Ways to Dispose of Pressure Treated Lumber in California 

In this section, we discuss what you should NOT do when disposing of pressure-treated lumber. 

Though it can be tempting to take the easy way out, you don’t want to mess around with toxic chemicals. Not only could it potentially harm you, your family, and your property, but if you get caught, there could be fines and legal ramifications. 

So, here are several things NOT to do with your treated lumber in California: 

  1. Do not burn treated lumber
  2. Don’t throw it in your regular trash
  3. Never use sawdust in compost 
  4. Don’t use treated lumber for mulch 

If you avoid these things, you should be in good shape.

How to Recognize Old Pressure Treated Wood? 

We’ve gone over how to dispose of treated lumber. However, by now, you may be asking how do I know if my lumber is pressure treated? You’re asking a good question. It can be difficult to determine if old lumber was pressure treated, as it’s often corroded and discolored. 

However, old-treated lumber is also the most dangerous, as it was likely treated using CCA, which contains arsenic. 

Be vigilant about recognizing treated lumber. Below, we offer some tips for identifying old pressure-treated wood. 

To determine if the wood is pressure treated, look for the following things: 

  1. Color 
  2. End tags 
  3. Incisions 
  4. Markings on the wood 
  5. Area of use 
  6. Ask the person who built the old structure 

Let’s explore these in more depth. 

Color of Pressure Treated Lumber

If the wood was used recently, you might be able to determine if the wood was pressure-treated based on the color. 

Often, pressure-treated wood has a slight green tinge. If you notice the lumber you are handling has a greenish color, assume it’s pressure treated. 

However, the color of pressure-treated lumber will fade away after several months of exposure to the heat and the rain. Do not use color as your universal determinant! It’s simply a clue. 

End Tags on Pressure Treated Lumber 

The next way you can determine if the wood is pressure treated is by looking at the end label on the wood. 

If you’ve ever been to a lumber yard, you will notice that the end of the boards is dotted with stickers. These stickers usually contain a barcode for purchasing and some information about the wood itself.  

Try to look around for these stickers on your boards – they may be able to tell you if the wood is pressure treated. You might not find them on all the boards, but even if you can find just one sticker, you may be able to determine the type of wood. 

Incisions on Pressure Treated Lumber 

Certain types of timber, like Douglas fir, don’t accept pressure treatment easily. So, to allow the treatment to penetrate deep into the wood grain, the boards are covered with incisions

Incisions look like little slits all over the board. They are hard to miss. So, if you find that your lumber is covered in small marks, then it is likely to be pressure-treated lumber. 

Marks and Stamps on Pressure Treated Lumber 

If your wood doesn’t have tags or incisions, it might have stamps. Pressure-treated lumber will often have black stamps along the flat side of the boards. Similar to the end tags, these stamps are there to help builders recognize the lumber. 

You may be able to locate some of these marks on your boards. If your boards were painted, try flipping them around to the non-painted side. 

If you find numbers or marks on your board, but you don’t understand what they mean, take a picture or write down the numbers. Then, take this information into your local hardware store and ask them if they can look up any information on the markings. 

If you’re fortunate, you may be able to determine if the wood is pressure treated. 

Area of Use for Pressure Treated Lumber 

Another way to determine if your wood is pressure treated is by assessing where the wood was used. 

Pressure-treated wood is not routinely used indoors. So, if you’ve just torn down a wall, the studs are not likely pressure treated. 

However, if you demolished an old shed or tore out an old deck, the lumber used for the foundation could certainly be pressure treated. Any lumber that is used outside could be pressure treated. 

Fences, plywood, deck boards, and beams could all be pressure treated. 

Ask the Previous Builder about Possible Treated Lumber 

If you’re having trouble determining whether your wood is pressure treated, the best thing you can do is ask the person who used it!

While this may seem like a hassle, it might only take a couple of phone calls. Call the person who previously owned your home. Contact the guys who installed your old shed. Though it is a process, it’s worth it to determine if your lumber is pressure treated. 

Final Words on Disposing of Pressure Treated Lumber in California 

Pressure-treated lumber is a toxic material in the state of California. Contact your local waste management department for their guidelines for disposing of treated wood waste. 

Never burn old pressure-treated lumber. Also, avoid using pressure-treated wood as mulch or compost material. 

Though it can be difficult to determine if the wood is pressure-treated, there are several ways to determine if the wood was pressure-treated, including color, tags, incisions, and markings. 

Keep your family and neighbors safe. Take the time to discard pressure-treated lumber properly.