RCRA Generator Status

Last updated on September 29, 2021

The RCRA hazardous waste management regulations require every generator to determine their generator status monthly (40 CFR 262.13). When determining your generator status, you must count all your hazardous waste at the “point of generation” unless it is specifically excluded.

It’s not unusual for your generator status to change from month to month, depending on exactly what you generate. The RCRA regulations list separate generator status thresholds for

  • Hazardous waste
  • Acutely hazardous waste
  • Spill cleanup materials from acutely hazardous waste

Under RCRA, generator status is based on the amount of hazardous waste generated per month. Large Quantity Generators or LQGs are subject to the most stringent hazardous waste management requirements.

RCRA Generator Status Amount Generated Per Month
Large Quantity Generator (LQG) 1,000 kg or more; or >1 kg acute HW
(2,200 pounds or more; or > 2.2 pounds acute HW)
Small Quantity Generator (SQG) >100 kg but <1,000 kg
(>220 pounds but <2,200 pounds)
Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG)
(Formerly known as Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators or CESQG)
100 kg or less
(220 pounds or less)


What Could Change My Generator Status?

The volume of hazardous waste your site produces in a given month can vary for many reasons. You may have had an extra productive month, for example, or a change in operations may lead to increased production. A spill or accident may generate additional waste that vaults you to a higher generator status.

Regardless of the reason, the EPA requires you to do a monthly count of these wastes as described under 40 CFR 262.13. It is helpful to keep a running log of your wastes as you produce them to know how much you have so that you’re not surprised by a status change at the end of the month.

What if I Go Up a Generator Status?

Let’s start by looking at the first month in which you would be required to change your status. To keep things  simple, we will assume your wastes are not somehow excluded from counting (e.g., by the new episodic generation exclusion introduced in the Generator Improvements Rule – more on this below).

Example: If you generated 600 kg of hazardous waste in June, you would be a small quantity generator (SQG) of hazardous waste.

If you exceed the LQG threshold of 1,000 kg per month or the 1 kg threshold for acute hazardous waste in July, all of July’s waste would have to be managed under the requirements for LQGs at 40 CFR 262.17.

The requirements for LQGs include, among other things, RCRA training for personnel and a 90-day time limit on storage on-site. Again, the LQG requirements would apply to all the waste you generated in the month, not just the amount that’s “over” the threshold.

Once you have been required to change your status, it is possible to lower your generator status if it were not a permanent operational change. If you reduce your waste production sufficiently, you could manage the waste in the subsequent months under the reduced regulation.

However, some states may require you to prove that you have changed generator status. If you would be an LQG for multiple non-consecutive months, they likely will not allow you to change your status continually.

Do I Have to Formally Change My Generator Status?

According to the EPA, Form 8700-12 is the form

  • that you use to notify the EPA and your state’s environmental regulatory agency of your hazardous waste activities
  • through which you are given an EPA Identification  Number for your site
  • that you must resubmit for a change in generator status

The form’s instructions clearly state:

“You must use this form to submit a subsequent notification if your site already has an EPA Identification Number and you wish to change information (e.g., generator status, new site, contact person, new owner, new mailing address, new regulated waste activity, etc.).”

While this is not a regulatory requirement, per se, based on these directions, you would use Form 8700-12 to update your status whether you went up (e.g., from SQG to LGQ) or down a status (e.g., from LQG to SQG).

Some states use a state-specific form in place of EPA’s Form 8700-12, as well as their own deadlines for submitting or revising their form. Check with your state to determine if there are state-specific requirements.

Relief for Episodic Events

In its Generator Improvements Rule, the US EPA added a provision to provide relief for “episodic events” that would otherwise impact a facility’s generator status. EPA defines “episodic event” as “an activity that does not normally occur during generator operations and results in the generation of hazardous wastes that exceeds the calendar month quantity limits for the generator’s usual category” (40 CFR 262.231).

Episodic events may be planned or unplanned. Examples of planned episodic events include lab or tank cleanouts, short-term maintenance projects, and the removal of excess inventory. Examples of unplanned episodic events include a spill, damaged equipment, or a product recall.

While every state is required to adopt the Generator Improvements Rule, at least in part, not every state has done so. States must maintain a hazardous waste program that is at least as stringent as the Federal RCRA regulations. Because the new relief for episodic events makes the regulations less stringent, states can choose to adopt the relief or not. Check to see if your state provides some relief for episodic events.

In states that have adopted the new relief, a VSQG or SQG can experience an episodic event without resubmitting Form 8700-12. There are, however, notification requirements that go along with claiming this relief.

Once again, you will want to check your state regulations to see what reliefs are available and how best to submit the required information.

Permanent Changes to Generator Status

For permanent status changes, the Form 8700-12 would have to be revised. If your site is a VSQG subject to the RCRA rules in 40 CFR 262.14, you may have to use Form 8700-12 to obtain an EPA ID number if you do not already have one. Without obtaining an EPA ID number, you would not be able to properly ship your wastes for treatment, among other issues.

Sharps Compliance can help answer questions about your RCRA Generator Status and hazardous waste. We offer comprehensive solutions for the management of regulated medical waste, hazardous waste, and unused medication.

Joe Jordan has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Chemistry from Washington and Jefferson College. He is certified in RCRA and DOT as well as 40 Hour HAZWOPER certified. Joe has been in the hazardous waste industry since 1990 and has managed industrial, healthcare, retail, and governmental clients, both large and small.

published in Hazardous WasteTagged