How to Manage Hazardous Waste

Innes Donaldson
December 18, 2012 — 1,229 views  
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A waste is any solid, liquid, or contained gaseous material that is discarded by being disposed of, burned or incinerated, or recycled. (There are some exceptions for recycled materials.) It can be the by product of a manufacturing process or simply a commercial product that you use in your business such as a cleaning fluid or battery acid and that is being disposed of. Even materials that are recyclable or can be reused in some way (such as burning solvents for fuel) might be considered waste.

Hazardous waste can be one of two types:

1. Listed waste. Your waste is considered hazardous if it appears on one of four lists published in the Code of Federal Regulations. Currently, more than 500 wastes are listed. Wastes are listed as hazardous because they are known to be harmful to human health and the environment when not managed properly.

Even when managed properly, some listed wastes are so dangerous that they are called acutely hazardous wastes. Examples of acutely hazardous wastes include wastes generated from some pesticides and that can be fatal to humans even in low doses.

2. Characteristic wastes. If your waste does not appear on one of the hazardous waste lists, it still might be considered hazardous if it demonstrates one or more of the following characteristics:

It catches fire under certain conditions. This is known as an ignitable waste. Examples are paints and certain degreasers and solvents, especially chemicals and liquids used in agriculture.

It corrodes metals or has a very high or low pH. This is known as a corrosive waste. Examples are rust removers, acid or alkaline cleaning fluids, and battery acid.

It is unstable and explodes or produces toxic fumes, gases, and vapors when mixed with water or under other conditions such as heat or pressure. This is known as a reactive waste. Examples are certain cyanides or sulfide-bearing wastes.

It is harmful or fatal when ingested or absorbed, or it leaches toxic chemicals into the soil or ground water when disposed of on land. This is known as a toxic waste. Examples are wastes that contain high concentrations of heavy metals, such as cad- mium, lead, or mercury.

If your waste is hazardous, you will need to manage it according to appropriate federal regulations. This can mean it cannot just be disposed of into a skip. Seek advice if you may be unsure as to how you should dispose your waste. Skip hire companies are often able to offer such advice.

Innes Donaldson