Hazardous waste is waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, gases, or sludges. They can be discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides, or the by-products of manufacturing processes.
Before a material can be classified as a hazardous waste, it must first be a solid waste as defined under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Hazardous waste are divided into listed wastes, characteristic wastes, universal wastes, and mixed wastes. Waste Types
Hazardous Waste Generators
- Listed Wastes: Wastes that EPA has determined are hazardous. Wastes from common manufacturing and industrial processes, wastes from specific industries and wastes from commercial chemical products.
- Characteristic Wastes: Wastes that do not meet any of the listings above but that exhibit ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity.
- Universal Wastes: Batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment (e.g., thermostats) and lamps (e.g., fluorescent bulbs).
- Mixed Wastes: Waste that contains both radioactive and hazardous waste components.
A hazardous waste generator is any person or site whose processes and actions create hazardous waste. Generators are divided into three categories based upon the quantity of waste they produce:
Hazardous Waste Transporters
- Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) generate 1,000 kilograms per month or more of hazardous waste, more than 1 kilogram per month of acutely hazardous waste, or more than 100 kilograms per month of acute spill residue or soil.
- Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) generate more than 100 kilograms, but less than 1,000 kilograms, of hazardous waste per month.
- Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs) generate 100 kilograms or less per month of hazardous waste, or 1 kilogram or less per month of acutely hazardous waste, or less than 100 kilograms per month of acute spill residue or soil.
Transporters are individuals or entities that move hazardous waste from one site to another by highway, rail, water, or air. This includes transporting hazardous waste from a generator's site to a facility that can recycle, treat, store, or dispose of the waste. It can also include transporting treated hazardous waste to a site for further treatment or disposal. Hazardous Waste Recycling
A hazardous waste is recycled if it is used, reused, or reclaimed. Furthermore, RCRA hazardous waste regulation makes an important distinction between materials that are used or reused without reclamation and those that must be reclaimed before reuse. A material is reclaimed if it is processed to recover a usable product, or if it is regenerated. Common hazardous waste reclamation activities involve recovery of spent solvents (e.g., recovery of acetone) or metals (e.g., recovery of lead). An example of a material that is reused without reclamation is emission control dust returned directly to a primary zinc smelting furnace.