Editor’s Note: Welcome to part 4 in our series about the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). During this series, we’ll guide you through proper hazardous waste handling so you stay compliant and safe.
Minimizing wastes isn’t just good for the environment. For facilities that generate hazardous wastes, the amount that is generated each month determines which hazardous waste management regulations must be followed. So facilities that make efforts to recycle and minimize the volume of hazardous wastes that their facility generates benefit from fewer and less stringent hazardous waste management regulations.
When a facility is determining how much waste they generate, three types of hazardous wastes must be considered:
- Acute hazardous wastes
- Non-acute hazardous wastes
- Residues from the cleanup of an acute hazardous waste spill
Solid wastes, materials that will be recycled and any wastes that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has specifically excluded from hazardous waste regulation are not counted toward the facility’s hazardous waste generator status.
After the volumes of each type of hazardous waste have been determined, the EPA provides specific parameters for facilities to determine their waste generator status. For facilities that generate either acute or non-acute hazardous waste, the determination is straightforward.
A facility’s generator status is permitted to change from month to month. However, the facility is not permitted to have more than one generator status at any time. For example, if a facility has less than 1 kg of acute hazardous waste but more than 1,000 kg of non-acute hazardous waste, they must follow the rules for a LQG for all types of hazardous wastes generated on their site. They cannot manage the acute hazardous waste under the VSQG requirements and the non-acute hazardous waste under the LQG requirements.
To prevent VSQGs and SQGs from having to jump a generator status, the EPA recently created the “episodic event” provision, which allows VSQGs and SQGs to maintain their generator statuses when they have planned or unplanned events that cause them to generate excess hazardous waste.
Making accurate hazardous waste determinations and keeping track of the total volume of hazardous wastes generated onsite are two vital elements to determining the facility’s hazardous waste generator status. For many facilities, they can also help hazardous waste managers identify waste streams that have the potential to be recycled or reclaimed so that wastes can be minimized and the facility’s generator status can be lowered.
There are also several states that have separate generating status requirements. Check to see if your state’s requirements are different than the federal categories.
Up next, we discuss how to determine if you need an EPA identification number and how to get one. Check out RCRA 101 Part 5: EPA Identification Numbers!