Hazardous wastes are dangerous byproducts of many industries. They are generated by commercial facilities doing everyday business and by individuals living everyday lives in their households. Hazardous wastes come in every form and if not properly handled can potentially contaminate land, water sources and the atmosphere. This can result in serious harm to humans, animals, and the natural environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state departments oversee the rules that regulate hazardous waste, requiring it be handled with special precautions and be disposed of in permitted facilities. The requirements vary based on generator types, which are outlined below:
Household Hazardous Waste
Federal law allows disposal of household hazardous waste in the trash, however citizens are strongly encouraged to participate in community sponsored household hazardous waste recycle/disposal programs to reduce the potential risk to human health and the environment from improper disposal.
Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG)
Most businesses also generate hazardous wastes, and if your business generates less than 100 kgs or about 220 lbs of hazardous waste per month, less than 1 kg or about 2.2 lbs of acutely hazardous waste per month, and less than 100 kg per month of acute spill residue or soil, then you are an CESQ and are exempt from most hazardous waste regulations. However, you must dispose of your waste at a state approved or RCRA permitted recycle/disposal facility as required by CFR 261.5(f)(3) and (g)(3).
Small Quantity Generator (SQG)
If you generate greater than 100 kg or about 220 lbs per month, but less than 1,000 kg per month or about 2200 lbs of hazardous waste, then you are as SQG and must comply with the RCRA regulations that apply to SQGs (mostly found in CFR 262).
Large Quantity Generators (LQGs)
Most other generators are considered LQGs and must comply with all State and RCRA hazardous waste requirements.
If you are a CESQG and are generating and collecting hazardous waste, you should adhere to the following requirements until the waste is transferred away from your facility by a waste management professional:
General On-Site Guidelines
- Segregate incompatible waste according to hazard classes (Ignitability, Corrosivity, Reactivity, Toxicity) to prevent hazardous reactions.
- Do not mix incompatible wastes or hazardous waste with nonhazardous waste. All non-hazardous waste mixed with hazardous waste is considered hazardous waste by regulation if mixed together.
- Never exceed the following amounts of accumulated waste on-site: 1000 kg hazardous waste; 1 kg acutely hazardous waste; 100 kg of acute spill residue or soil (remember, 1000 kg equals approximately 2200 lbs., 100 kg equals about 220 lbs., and 1 kg equals about 22 lbs).
- Inspect your waste storage areas at least weekly.
- Maintain proper waste documentation including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Identification numbers.
- Utilize containers that are in good condition. They must meet DOT specifications for the type of hazardous waste being stored and transported, and are made of or lined with a material that will not react with, nor be incompatible with, the waste being stored.
- Keep the waste containers closed and secured at all times, except when adding or removing waste.
- Label and date waste containers properly with appropriate labels and identify hazardous constituents as they are added (e.g. “hazardous waste organic solvents, contains toluene and xylene”).
- Allow for “head space” in the container to account for waste expansion.
- Store containers in a secure collection area protected from extreme environments.
Spill Mitigation Requirements
- Consider using secondary containment to prevent leaks or spills.
- Know your emergency response plan in the event of a leak or spill.
- Have a spill kit available for emergencies, which include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), equipment and materials to clean-up small spills, as well as equipment to contain larger spills.