Who May Determine Whether a Waste Is Hazardous?

Hazardous Waste Determination

The “determination” step is one of the critical areas when declaring and classifying hazardous waste. The question always arises – who is responsible for determining if a waste should be classified as a hazardous waste. Below is a great explanation to help answer this question.

Q: A laboratory chemist produces miscellaneous analytical waste and accumulates the waste in a nearby satellite accumulation container. When the container is full, the lab’s environmental group gathers applicable information from the chemist and from other sources as needed in order to make a hazardous waste determination. Since the chemist was the person who actually generated the waste, who may determine whether the waste is hazardous — the chemist or the environmental group?

A: Per an EPA memo dated August 16, 2002, it states:

“40 CFR Section 262.11 states, ‘A person who generates a solid waste…must determine if that waste is a hazardous waste…’ A ‘person’ is defined as ‘an individual, trust, firm, joint stock company, Federal Agency, corporation (including a government corporation), partnership, association, State, municipality, commission, political subdivision of a State, or any interstate body’ (40 CFR Part 262.10). A ‘person’ is not limited to a specific individual. Therefore, any individual who is part of the ‘person’ (as defined) may make a hazardous waste determination. The hazardous waste determination is not limited to the individual who actually produces a solid waste. For example, Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) personnel may make a hazardous waste determination for a waste produced by an individual researcher, as long as the EH&S personnel and the researcher are part of the same ‘person’ (e.g., academic institution).”

Therefore, since both the chemist (an individual/a person) and the environmental group (a group of individuals/persons) meet the RCRA definition of a “person,” either the chemist or the environmental group can make the determination if a waste is hazardous.

SUMMARY:

  • Per 40 CFR 262.11, a “person” must determine if a waste is hazardous.
  • Per 40 CFR 260.10, a “person” is defined as “an individual, trust, firm, joint stock company, Federal Agency, corporation (including a government corporation), partnership, association, State, municipality, commission, political subdivision of a State, or any interstate body.”
  • A “person” is not limited to the individual (such as a chemist) who actually produces a solid waste, and any “person” as defined above can make the determination if a waste is hazardous.

While hazardous waste service providers can assist and guide in assessing a waste and offering their opinions, it is the responsibility of “the person” generating the waste to determine if the waste is hazardous, per the regulations. The generator will be the “person” that signs the declaration (hazardous waste profile) to a treatment facility on the properties and description of the hazardous waste.

Joe Jordan

Joe Jordan

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

Author: Joe Jordan

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