Any business or organization that produces hazardous waste is completely responsible for the handling and disposal of such material. The misidentification of any hazardous waste can be very dangerous for the environment and the health of the general public. Therefore, it’s vital that all generators of hazardous waste can properly identify it. Learn the steps to take for identifying hazardous waste by reading below.
Assess if Your Waste Is a Solid
To first find out if you have produced a hazardous waste is assessing if the material is a waste at all. You might assume this would be common sense, but identifying waste is a bit trickier than you’d think. This is the first step of the RCRA hazardous waste identification process. The process is also a vital component of what RCRA hazardous waste generators should know. Some materials, such as those made of aluminum or plastics, might get discarded as garbage by one person but another individual may recognize it as recyclable. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) developed the term “solid waste,” which is simply the official term for a waste whether it’s solid, semisolid, or liquid in form.
Determine if the Waste Is Excluded
There are various criteria that a substance must meet for it to classify as an RCRA hazardous waste. Many substances, like those found in households, will not fall under the RCRA’s regulations because they involve strict disposal methods which would not be practical for the average person dumping waste from their home. The waste generated in mass quantities by various industries, their businesses, and organizations is not exempt. You must determine if the waste meets the criteria by checking the list of excluded materials. Once you determine that the waste doesn’t contain excluded materials, you should consider it hazardous and get ready for the next step.
Check if the Waste Is Listed as Hazardous
It’s important to check if the waste that you are examining is part of the listing of the specific wastes the EPA considers hazardous enough to require full regulation. These are hazardous wastes that come from a non-specific source, source-specific waste such as sludges from wastewater treatment systems, discarded commercial chemical products, and container or spill residues. You can check the Subpart of the regulations which will show you all hazardous wastes.
Inspect the Waste for Hazardous Characteristics
This is the last of the steps to take for identifying hazardous waste. You need to be able to determine if there is a specific chemical or physical hazard that the waste poses. When waste has either of these two types of threats, it requires separate treatment and disposal from other normal waste or garbage. Look for specific characteristics such as ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity. This way you can pinpoint the direct threat that the waste poses, and you now know what the hazardous waste is and how you need to handle it.