Definition Environmental Protection Agency
In order for a material to be classified as a hazardous waste, it must first be a solid waste. Therefore, the first step in the hazardous waste identification process is determining if a material is a solid waste.
The second step in this process examines whether or not the waste is specifically excluded from regulation as a solid or hazardous waste.
Once a generator determines that their waste meets the definition of a solid waste, they investigate whether or not the waste is a listed or characteristic hazardous waste. Finally, it is important to note that some facilities petitioned EPA to delist their wastes from RCRA Subtitle C regulation. You can research the facilities that successfully petitioned EPA for a delisting in Appendix IX of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 261.
Select a question below to learn more about each step in the hazardous waste identification process.
EPA’s Cradle-to-Grave Hazardous Waste Management Program
In the mid-twentieth century, solid waste management issues rose to new heights of public concern in many areas of the United States because of increasing solid waste generation, shrinking disposal capacity, rising disposal costs, and public opposition to the siting of new disposal facilities. These solid waste management challenges continue today, as many communities are struggling to develop cost-effective, environmentally protective solutions. The growing amount of waste generated has made it increasingly important for solid waste management officials to develop strategies to manage wastes safely and cost effectively.
RCRA set up a framework for the proper management of hazardous waste. From this authority, EPA established a comprehensive regulatory program to ensure that hazardous waste is managed safely from "cradle to grave" meaning from the time it is created, while it is transported, treated, and stored, and until it is disposed:
RCRA's Cradle-to-Grave Hazardous Waste Management System
Hazardous Waste Generation
Under RCRA, hazardous waste generators are the first link in the hazardous waste management system. All generators must determine if their waste is hazardous and must oversee the ultimate fate of the waste. Furthermore, generators must ensure and fully document that the hazardous waste that they produce is properly identified, managed, and treated prior to recycling or disposal. The degree of regulation that applies to each generator depends on the amount of waste that a generator produces.