Hazardous Waste Disposal Guide

Not all waste are made equal. That is, some are easy to dispose of, while some require special handling and are covered by stricter laws and specific regulations. In this article, we will put our focus on hazardous waste and how to dispose of them properly.

What are hazardous wastes?

As a rule of thumb, hazardous wastes are those which are one, or a combination of the following:

Due to their nature, they can put both people, properties, and the environment at risk. This is why they are treated differently from other wastes produced by households and some businesses, otherwise referred to as waste generators. 

Corrosive wastes are either acidic or alkaline and this property allows them to dissolve materials they come in contact with. Human skin is especially vulnerable, while some corrosive wastes are even quick to damage certain metals. A substance is corrosive if it has a pH value of less than or equal to 2, or more than or equal to 12.5.

Ignitable wastes are characterized by their being able to easily be set on fire and sustain the combustion. In liquids, this is if it has a flash point of below 60 Celsius (140 Fahrenheit), while there are also solids and gases that ignite given specific circumstances – open flames, sparks, or even ambient temperature.

Reactive wastes are unstable under normal conditions, and may explode if it comes in contact with water, certain chemicals, or when it reaches a specific temperature. These can also emit toxic gases.

Toxic wastes are harmful and poisonous when inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed via the skin or mucous membranes. These can contaminate the air, soil, or groundwater, negatively affecting the air we breathe, as well as the food and water we eat and drink.

How are hazardous wastes disposed?

Regulations dictate that waste generators are expected to segregate hazardous waste from non-hazardous wastes. Hazardous wastes are then retrieved by specially designated hazardous waste collectors and brought to authorized facilities. Hazardous waste transportation is covered both by EPA regulations and US Department of Transportation regulations.

During transportation, hazardous wastes need to be deposited in portable containers, the most common of which is the 55-gallon drum. Small amounts can be contained in test tubes, buckets, or sealable and specially marked garbage bags. Some chemicals can be transported using their original plastic or glass containers, while larger volumes of hazardous waste are contained and transported through tanker trucks and railroad cars.

Once brought to the appropriate facilities, many hazardous wastes can be safely recycled. Those that cannot, are treated or made less hazardous. When treatment is effective, the resulting wastes can then be disposed of with other non-hazardous wastes in landfills, or incinerated.

However, there are some hazardous wastes that cannot be treated fully or effectively. Instead, these are sealed in specialized containers and buried. Other methods are available.  Although the risk of leaks and spills remain, these are mitigated with proper monitoring and other safety protocols.

In order to facilitate the proper recycling, storage, or disposal of hazardous wastes, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops and continues to update relevant regulations. These regulations are what governs and certifies Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs).

Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities

TSDFs provide one, or combination of the following services:

Treatment is the process of changing the character or composition of hazardous wastes. This is through the use of various means, including incineration or oxidation. Some treatment processes allow further recycling where waste can be recovered and reused. Other treatment processes have the goal of significantly reducing the weight and volume of hazardous waste as in the case of incineration, which reduces tons of waste into several hundred pounds of ash.

Storage is generally understood to be the temporary holding of hazardous wastes until they are treated or disposed of. This is done through containment in specialized tanks, containment buildings, drip pads, surface impoundments, or waste piles.

Disposal is the process of permanently and safely containing hazardous wastes. This is achieved mainly through the use of sanitary landfills, which under existing regulations, must include mechanisms that are designed to protect surface and groundwater contamination.

Tanks are stationary containers constructed of steel, plastic, fiberglass, or concrete. Containment buildings are completely sealed, self-supporting structures (walled, roofed, and floored). Drip pads are engineered structures with a curbed, free-draining base designed to allow the drippage and collection of chemicals, contaminated rain and surface water towards a separate holding tank.

Surface impoundments can either be man-made excavations, diked areas, or natural topographic depressions which accumulate liquid hazardous waste. They are required to have a double liner system, leachate collection and removal systems, and leak detection systems.

Landfills are similar to surface impoundments but are designed for non-liquid hazardous wastes. These are also required to have a double liner system; double leachate collection and removal systems; leak detection systems; run on, run off, and wind dispersal prevention controls; and a final cover.

Waste piles operate in the same way as surface impoundments and landfills, but are for temporary storage or treatment only. They also require the same construction design requirements and safety assurance systems.

There are also land treatment units which employ naturally occurring soil microbes and sunlight to degrade, transform, or render ineffective hazardous components. Constant monitoring ensures that hazardous component levels do not exceed a certain threshold based on background levels.

Hazardous Waste Disposal Regulations

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 is the law which set the general framework for the proper handling of hazardous wastes. Inclusion and exclusion criteria, as well as specific regulations continue to change at the federal and state levels.

The following links should provide up to date information regarding the general framework and how each are to be handled:

Is the material categorized as a solid waste
Is the material categorized as a hazardous waste?
Is the material delisted as a hazardous waste?
Is the hazardous waste in question recyclable?

Moreover, subject to its mandate, the EPA has created different categories, standards, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and exemptions for different classes of wastes:

Is the material categorized as Academic Laboratory Wastes?
Is the material categorized under Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs)?
Is the material categorized as Household Hazardous Wastes?
Is the material categorized as Mixed Radiological Wastes?
Is the material categorized as Pharmaceutical Hazardous Wastes?
Is the material categorized as Solvent-Contaminated Wipes?
Is the material categorized as Universal Waste?
Is the material categorized as Used Oil?

Further, state regulatory requirements may or may not be more stringent compared to the federal regulatory requirements. The following provides links to state specific information on hazardous material disposal:

List of US State Environmental Agencies

COVID-19 Hazardous Waste Management

In the time of a global pandemic, stringent compliance of hazardous material disposal is more important than ever. One simple misstep in disposing of hazardous wastes during these uncertain times may possibly lead to being infected with COVID-19.

For this reason, both the CDC and the OSHA have released specific guidelines in regards to the management and disposal of any hazardous wastes produced as a result of COVID-19. 

All Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) facilities are equipped and able to properly handle any RMW wastes related to COVID-19. Further, all other hazardous waste including pharmaceutical waste and household hazardous waste known to come in contact with any COVID-19 patient are to be routed to disposal facilities with the proper permits.

If you have any concerns in regards to COVID-19 hazardous waste disposal, you can seek proper advice from your local state agencies.

Common Hazardous Waste Disposal Misconceptions

In order to avoid inconveniencing waste generators, waste transporters, and TSDFs, the EPA clarify the following regarding hazardous material disposal:


Hazardous waste management regulations continue to evolve, and rightfully so. This is because industries, businesses, and households continue to consume a wide array of products which also produce a wide variety of wastes.

It is therefore sensible to keep up to date with relevant regulations issued by federal, state, and local authorities. Certified TSDFs are also able to provide helpful information for waste generators who only produce a relatively small volume of waste within a given period of time.

Disposing of hazardous wastes in violation of regulations will incur stiff sanctions and costly penalties. These can easily be avoided by doing our part with regards to proper hazardous waste disposal which at the same time, ensures that the health of individuals, properties, and the environment are kept safe.

Hazardous Waste Recycling Guide

Disposing hazardous waste requires specialized treatment and processes. However, they could also be recycled so that their entirety or their ingredients can be turned into new and beneficial products. This process is called hazardous waste recycling. 

In this article, we’ll learn more about recycling hazardous waste and understand how it can benefit us and the environment we live in.

What is Hazardous Waste Recycling?

As defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hazardous waste is a collective term for industrial or household waste material that exhibits possible or considerable threats to the environment or the public. Whether they be liquids, gaseous, or solids, these materials can be dangerous. They may be combustible, explosive, reactive to other materials, corrosive, or toxic.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that over 400 million tons of hazardous waste is generated annually. That is around 13 tons of such material produced per second around the world. Most of these harmful wastes come from industrialized countries.  These countries often ship these waste materials to other nations under the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Shipping hazardous waste to developing countries for disposal is seen as a grim but effective solution to alleviate their increasing cost of disposing such waste in their own country.

Hazardous waste recycling refers to the repurposing of dangerous waste materials into some other useful materials.  

There are four main kinds of hazardous material that are commonly recycled or disposed:

1. Characteristic Wastes

Characteristic hazardous waste is defined by the EPA as wastes that have any or all of the following characteristics: corrosivity, reactivity, toxicity, or ignitability. These wastes are usually generated by industrial and medical facilities. These include:

2. Listed Wastes

Listed hazardous wastes refers to industrial waste materials that are automatically considered hazardous based on the process that generates them. The waste material doesn’t need to show any of the “characteristics” as described above. Examples of listed waste include:

3. Universal Wastes

Universal wastes are waste materials that are marked as “hazardous” by the EPA yet contain common materials. Universal wastes are often considered to pose a lower threat than other kinds of hazardous waste even though they are produced in massive quantities. Due to the perceived lower threat, recycling and disposal of such materials are often subjected to less strict regulatory requirements.

Examples of universal waste include:

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

Household Hazardous Wastes (HHWs) are waste materials from residential households. Note that HHWs only apply to waste materials that are labeled and sold for home use. Thus, hazardous wastes from businesses or industrial facilities are not considered HHWs.

Examples of common HHWs include:

These kinds of wastes can be collected and taken to a certified HHW collecting site for processing, treatment, recycling, or disposal.

How is Hazardous Waste Recycled?

Hazardous waste can be recycled in various ways. When waste material is reclaimed, it is processed so that it can be recovered or regenerated to its original state. For example, waste solvent could be reprocessed to remove impurities so that it could be used again as a solvent.

When waste material is reused, it may be processed so that it is used as an ingredient or an item in making a new product. It can also be broken up so that one or more of its component parts or ingredients can be used. The mercury from broken thermometers, for example, can be recovered to be used in some other product that requires mercury.

Hazardous waste material may also be utilized as a substitute for another product.  For instance, used pickle liquor can be poured into wastewater as a sludge conditioner rather than using a commercially available treatment. 

Another form of hazardous waste recycling is to use the material as a “constituting disposal.” This is a process that involves directly putting the waste product on another kind of material. For example, leftover materials from the process of refining petroleum can be added as an ingredient to asphalt in road construction. 

 Finally, waste material can be burned as fuel for generating energy.

To make hazardous waste recycling more effective, it is best to practice a specific order of actions, or waste management hierarchy. This hierarchy is actually enacted as a law in Minnesota. Other counties and states may already have implemented their own waste management hierarchy.


Minimize the use and volume of hazardous waste. This is the best, most cost-effective, and environmentally friendly way as the waste is already controlled before it is generated. In Minnesota, citizens and companies can call the team at the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) for assistance in reducing waste through substitution, alternative processing, and other methodologies.


There are businesses that are on the lookout for hazardous waste that they can buy and use for another purpose. For example, rather than disposing used gallons of cooking oil, a household or a restaurant can sell the material to companies that specialize in producing biofuels. Those oils can also be sold to agricultural firms to be reprocessed into animal feed.


The last step of the hierarchy involves actual hazardous waste recycling. It can be reclaimed, reused, or utilized for energy recovery as described in the previous paragraphs. While recycling is costlier and involves a more complicated process, it is still considered cheaper and more environmentally friendlier than outright waste disposal.


Waste that cannot be recycled safely undergoes the process of treatment for safe and correct disposal.

What are the Benefits of Recycling Hazardous Waste?

It seems counterintuitive, but recycling hazardous waste could actually provide a number of benefits:

Recycling protects the environment

Incorrectly or carelessly disposing of solvents, heavy metals, and particulates can cause these hazardous materials to seep into the soil. In time, it reaches and contaminates groundwater, which is usually a primary source of potable water. Solids and gaseous materials can spread into the surrounding areas, endangering natural habitats or wildlife. When nature absorbs these dangerous substances, they are notoriously difficult, expensive, or even downright impossible to clean.

Recycling hazardous wastes, on the other hand, decreases environmental risk and exposure to such dangers. The balance of local wildlife remains intact with the reduction of foreign material into the land.

Recycling diminishes consumption of raw materials

In general, in a recycling process, fewer raw materials are needed. This is especially beneficial when it comes to hazardous waste recycling. Since existing ingredients for the next generation of products are already harvested from the recycled waste, the use of fresh raw ingredients and components to produce those new products is significantly reduced.

The reduction of raw materials is also beneficial to the environment as the individual or business entity doesn’t have to take a lot from nature.

Finally, reducing the use of raw materials provides a cascading economic effect. Manufacturers don’t have to spend a lot on raw materials, and production processes become more efficient. Subsequently, these benefits lower retail prices of the resulting end products.

Hazardous waste recycling lessens dependency on fossil fuels

Fossil fuels are finite energy resources.  At the rate the world is using fossil fuels, known oil deposits could run out after 53 years, gas reserves after 52 years, and coal deposits after 150 years. However, we could preserve these fossil fuel resources a little longer by recycling waste, including hazardous ones. After all, recycling uses vastly less energy and subsequently less fuel than total production.

In addition, because the amount of fossil fuels in making hazardous products is reduced, the amount of harmful emissions released into the atmosphere is also diminished.

Recycling reduces the volume of dangerous substances that must be treated and disposed of

Like fossil fuels, the number of landfills and disposal facilities for dangerous substances are limited. Through recycling, less hazardous waste is processed for treatment and disposal. This creates a cascading benefit – less need for such landfills and facilities, decrease in energy used in operating those disposal systems, and less pollution.

Recycling hazardous waste project a positive image

The importance of environmental protection and preservation is a worldwide issue that most people recognize and support. Recycling is part of a “going green” philosophy that shows that a person, company, organization, or government is environmentally responsible. That sense of responsibility portrays a good image that increases reputation, prestige, or even revenue.

How Much Hazardous Waste is Recycled in the United States?

As part of its National Biennial Report, the EPA as well as each state government collate and report data on hazardous waste processing. The report includes information about the generation, management, recycling, and final disposal of dangerous wastes regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). 

Data in 2017 shows that more than 1.5 million tons of hazardous waste generated in the country during that year are recycled. The 2017 Recyclers of Hazardous Waste Results shows further breakdown of the number.

The National Biennial Report only shows regulated recycling of hazardous waste. Dangerous wastes that are excluded from regulations or entities that have recycling exemptions are not included in the report. Additionally, the report only includes data coming from those who regularly report to the EPA such as industrial facilities, major refineries, and large disposal facilities.  Thus, the actual and total number of recycled hazardous waste might even be higher, and that is actually good.

How Is Hazardous Waste Recycling Regulated?

Modern hazardous waste regulation in the US started with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, (RCRA) which was enacted to law in 1976. The purpose of the RCRA was to make an “origin to end” system to effectively monitor the processing, management, and ultimate disposal of hazardous waste. 

The RCRA record-keeping system helps track the “life cycle” of dangerous materials as well as control and reduce the amount of illegally disposed hazardous waste.

Changes to the RCRA over the years stipulated requirements for incinerators, large and small generators of hazardous waste, and disposal and recycling facilities. Landfills needed to follow strict standards or risk being closed.

The level of regulation of recycled waste varies. Specifically, it depends on what type of waste material it is and what is the method of recycling being used. EPA determines the level of regulation to match the dangers of the recycling method.

As specified under the RCRA hazardous waste regulations, recyclable materials

In 1980, Congress enacted into law the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). CERCLA was enacted to create a financial fund for the cleanup and remediation of abandoned or closed hazardous waste facilities.

Lastly, the US is not part of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal Convention. This is an international treaty enacted in 1992 and signed by 20 signatory nations. The Basel Convention bans the export of hazardous waste material from industrialized countries to developing countries.


The best way to control dangerous wastes is not to use them or limit their use in the first place. However, it is still a relief to know that there is a way to make use of them through hazardous waste recycling.

Although initially expensive and complex, the benefits of recycling hazardous waste far outweigh the negative impact of incorrectly disposing such waste material. As technology advances and environmental awareness expands, it will also follow that society will find better, safer, and more effective ways to recycle waste.

Hazardous Waste Definition & Identification


The world produces about 13 tons of hazardous waste per second. This kind of modern human-produced waste must be treated, stored, and disposed of effectively to preserve planet Earth for future generations.

 Humans are constantly creating such toxic waste. The amount that’s produced is based on the scope of different human activities, including industrial, agricultural, and residential. Today the issue is becoming more serious and affecting not only the entire planet but even individual communities.

This universe of dangerous waste is gigantic and very diverse. For example, it can exist in different forms like gas, liquid, and solid. There are also different types and features of hazardous waste. The definition “hazardous waste” is also defined by different organizations including the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

What is a Hazardous Waste?

General Definition

According to the EPA, “Simply defined, a hazardous waste is a waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment.” Hazardous waste also includes different physical forms, including: solids, liquids, and gases. 

 Dangerous wastes can also be produced through different means. From manufacturing methods, and discarded substances like unused commercial products (i.e., pesticides and cleaning fluids), and used materials, according to the University of California-Irvine. 

 The hazardous toxic waste can also be defined in regulatory terms. This includes one or a combination of the features in the EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which includes the following characteristics:

In addition to these strict definitions, waste products can still be considered “hazardous” even if they don’t have any technical features of this kind of dangerous waste. Some examples include soil produced from large clean-up projects and used oil.

EPA Regulatory Definition

The EPA has created a regulatory hazardous waste definition. It has defined various substances that have been scientifically proven to be hazardous. The EPA has also created objective requirements that allow for a particular material to be regulated as “hazardous waste.” 

While this hazardous waste definition is objective, it can be extremely complex. This has resulted in the US agency creating a list of questions that waste-generators can ask to determine whether or not they are indeed producing “hazardous” waste:

1. Is it solid waste?

The EPA always defines hazardous-type waste as solid waste. Other organizations use a broader definition that can include liquid or gas, but the EPA strictly defines such toxic waste as having a solid form.

2. Is the solid waste exempt from being regulated?

It’s possible for a particular solid waste to not be classified/regulated as hazardous. In other words, not all solid wastes are “hazardous” based on the EPA’s standards, but all hazardous wastes are solid wastes. 

The EPA then requires waste generators to check if they’re producing waste with features that classify it as “hazardous.” 

It’s also possible for waste generators to request the EPA to de-list their waste as hazardous. This is based on the EPA’s RCRA’s lists. The EPA also maintains a list of waste generators that have successfully been delisted from the EPA’s list of facilities producing dangerous waste. 

The EPA provides not only strict guidelines for classifying this toxic waste but also provides other guidelines about how much waste must be Stored, Treated, Disposed, and Recycled.

Radioactive Waste

This kind of hazardous waste is typically classified differently from other kinds of toxic wastes. Scientists have approached the issue differently from other waste management. 

Radioactive waste is typically made from radioactivity, although in some cases, this isn’t the cause. However, this kind of waste always has levels of “radionuclide” contaminants that are higher than legal levels set by regulatory bodies like the USA’s EPA. 

This type of waste produces a greater health risk due to the measured concentration of radionuclides contained in a substance.  Another factor is that various radionuclides pose different hazard levels.

Main Causes of Hazardous Waste

Hazardous materials produced by industrial and technological advances are the main causes of these toxic substances. The situation became exponentially worse due to events like the Industrial Revolution, which took place during the 1700s and 1800s. 

In recent decades one of the main developments has been nuclear technology. Various nuclear applications have increased in popularity around the globe. This has triggered a spike in the effects of radioactive materials released into the Earth’s environment. That, in turn, has caused major problems in Earth’s biological systems. 

Hazardous Waste Types

Just as defining what is hazardous waste can be done in different ways, there are different ways to classify dangerous waste as different types.


Wastes might be classified as “hazardous” if they show particular characteristics, including:


This kind of waste results in chemical reactions in particular conditions. This can trigger explosions or give off different gases, fumes, or vapors. The activity happens when the substance is mixed with H2O or compressed. Some examples include unused explosives and lithium/sulfur batteries. 

It’s important to note that no test methods exist to test a waste for reactivity. There are other methods to test for this feature that are based on regulations for hazardous waste.


Corrosive wastes are various materials like solids that are either acids/bases or make acidic/alkaline solutions. A corrosive waste is one with a pH level at/under 2.0 or at/above 12.5. 

Liquid wastes can also be corrosive in the case it’s able to corrode various metal containers like drums, storage tanks, and barrels. Examples include used battery acid. There are various EPA methods to test if waste is corrosive.


In certain situations, these wastes can spark fires, have a flash point under 60°C (140°F), or blow up (spontaneous combustion). Some examples include used solvents and waste oil. 

Various test methods can be done to figure out if the waste has the ignitability characteristic. There are different methods used, including the USA EPA’s test methods.


Toxic waste is dangerous or deadly when it’s absorbed or indigested. This involves different substances, including lead, mercury, Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), etc. The disposal of toxic wastes can cause groundwater to become polluted. 

“Toxic” is a wide category that can be defined when a substance has 1+ of the following features:

1. Acute Dermal Toxicity

This is a test that’s related to a substance being slightly toxic or having a slightly toxic substance that’s triggered through skin contact. It involves a certain level of dermal toxicity.

2. Carcinogenicity

In this situation, the waste contains a certain level of cancer-causing substance that classifies it as being dangerous. This is a major issue since cancer is one of the most common causes of death, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

3. Waste Extraction Test

The Waste Extraction Test (WET) is related to another procedure known as “total digestion.” Each lab test is compared with various regulations for toxic waste to determine whether or not a particular substance should be defined as such.

4. Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure

Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) is related to the definition “hazardous waste” and is defined by the EPA as wastes that can release dangerous substances into the environment. 

TELP test results are compared with regulations for hazardous waste. This doesn’t include wastes that aren’t regulated by the EPA’s RCRA. 

5. Acute Oral Toxicity

This type of toxic waste is due to slightly toxic substances or becomes slightly toxic when consumed. A particular waste is toxic if it has a certain level of oral toxicity.

6. Acute Aquatic Toxicity 

This toxicity is related to waste being toxic when fish are exposed to it. A test procedure is done to determine if the aquatic toxicity is high enough for the waste to be classified as toxic.

Listed Wastes

Some specific kinds of wastes are defined as hazardous wastes based on created lists. There are various ways that the wastes are categorized including:


This list includes wastes that are created from particular industries like pesticides and petroleum. Some other examples of these dangerous wastes include wastewater and sludge from production/treatment processes.


This list includes several manufacturing/industrial processes like solvents used for cleaning/degreasing. The processes that make these wastes exist in several industry sectors. 

Thus, these wastes are from sources that are non-specific. In other words, the wastes aren’t from one particular manufacturing or industrial process.

Mercury-Containing Products

These are certain wastes with mercury, including mercury switches, fluorescent lamps, and products that house such switches. They’re related to the issue of what is hazardous waste.

These products with mercury can provide several benefits for people. However, the problem is when the products are discarded, they become waste.

Commercial Chemical Products

This can include chemical products that weren’t used yet but will be discarded. There are different examples, including commercial pesticides, industrial chemicals, and prescription drugs. The chemical products actually become hazardous items when they’re tossed.

RCRA Hazardous Waste Management System


Based on the EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), hazardous waste generators are the first link within the waste management system. The first goal of generators is to determine if the waste they are producing is indeed hazardous, and then figure out how to handle it.

Another goal of generators is to guarantee, and document that produced hazardous waste is correctly:

These steps must be taken before disposal or recycling takes place. 

The amount of EPA regulation that applies to individual generators is based on how much waste the generator creates. The EPA provides info about which regulations apply to hazardous waste generators.


Following the generators’ production of the toxic waste, transporters might move the produced waste to a facility that treats, disposes of, or recycles the waste. Various EPA and US Department of Transportation (DoT) regulations apply since the waste is moved through roads/highways, railroads, and waterways.

Treatment and Storage

The EPA has attempted to create federal regulations for hazardous waste that are able to balance the goal of protecting public health and Earths’ environment, while sustaining resource conservation. This involves different processes, including treating/disposing of waste to incinerators or landfills, or recycling the waste in a safe and effective manner. 

RCRA requirements are related to companies creating, storing, or disposing of toxic wastes in the USA. The RCRA requires US-located facilities that engage in treating, storing, or disposing of hazardous-type waste to secure a permit. Specific requirements must be met for handling, tracking, and managing waste.


The disposal of dangerous waste has historically been done in traditional landfills. However, this resulted in large amounts of toxic materials seeping down into the soil. Over time the waste started contaminating ground-water and underground water systems. 

Today, several landfills require counter steps that are used to prevent ground-water contamination. One example is an installed barrier along the landfill’s foundation. This is installed to contain toxic substances that might stay in the landfill’s disposed waste.


Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs) provide short-term storage, and treatment or disposal of hazardous wastes. One possible drawback is a higher amount of risk due to the enormous quantities of waste and activities performed at such facilities. 

This issue explains why TSDFs are strictly regulated. In fact, TSDF regulations are set for issues like:


The recycling of hazardous waste provides several benefits, including reducing the volume of treated/disposed of waste materials and the use of raw materials. 

It’s critical to ensure proper storage of the materials. This can prevent events like leaks, spills, fires, and contamination of drinking water and soil. The EPA has created official regulations to make sure recycling is done safely.


Developments in industry and technology during the past quarter-millennium or so have caused the creation of hazardous materials to skyrocket. This has resulted in a surge in various industries like hazardous waste handling automation. 

It’s important to know the definition of “hazardous waste” in particular situations like owning/operating waste generators. This can provide such parties with critical information about how bodies like the UN, EPA, and local states define and regulate the dangerous waste material. 

Another key issue is knowing how such regulators categorize various types of hazardous waste. It includes different approaches involving the waste’s source, characteristics, and “toxic” status. This can result in the proper handling, transport, and disposal of hazardous waste based on global, national, and local industry standards.

A Quick Guide for Selection and Use of Approved Covid-19/Coronavirus Disinfectants

As we discussed previously, routine or periodic cleaning and disinfection are an important part of an overall workplace Coronavirus safety program, along with hand washing, social distancing and source control measures such as mask use. Additional cleaning and disinfection can be considered in work areas if one or more workers contract Coronavirus.

According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html, the first step to disinfect a surface is cleaning with soap and water to remove dirt and dust and reduce the amount of virus on the surface followed by application of application of approved disinfectant.

No matter how they are applied, Covid disinfection requires use of approved disinfectants, including 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or 70% alcohol (Ethanol or Isopropyl Alcohol)

To prepare a 0.1% bleach solution, mix:

Make sure to check the expiration date on your bleach container. Also, the bleach solution degrades over time so ACTenviro recommends making new solution every 24 hours as needed. Finally, pay attention to safety. Bleach is corrosive so wear appropriate PPE, including gloves, eye/face protection, mix outsider or in areas that have good ventilation, have spill supplies available and never mix bleach with ammonia or anything other than water!

For surfaces or locations where bleach is not suitable, 70% alcohol (ethanol or isopropyl alcohol) may be used, although these flammable liquids have their own set of safety issues.

The EPA also maintains a list of disinfectants that are anticipated to be effective against Covid/Coronavirus – EPA List N – Approved for “Emerging Viral Pathogens”

Specific products are shown on List N, however other products with the same active ingredient (based on the product’s EPA registration number) can also be used.

Keep in mind though that Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed and use of any of these materials should be reviewed to determine if additional PPE (including respiratory protection) is required.

Still have questions? See our previous post that looked at cleaning and disinfection requirements or stay tuned for our next post where we will talk about at validation and how to make sure that your cleaning and decontamination process is effective.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

We all know what happens when we destroy our environment. So, taking care of it is everyone’s responsibility. Naturally, the U.S. government enacted laws to ensure maximum environmental protection and the CERCLA Act, commonly known as “Superfund, is one such example. To put simply, the CERCLA Act regulates the control and management of hazardous and toxic wastes detected within abandoned or “orphaned” facilities that can affect not just the environment but also the health of the public. 

Under CERCLA, approximately $1.6 billion was collected from a special tax on the petroleum and chemical industries that lasted until 1995.  This money, along with revenue from companies that created the problem is used for clean-up and waste management at abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

What is CERCLA?

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is also known as the Superfund act. CERCLA was passed by the U.S. Congress on December 11, 1980. CERCLA laid out the requirements for closing and abandoning hazardous sites and its related prohibitions and established liability for those who created the waste, referred to as “potentially responsible parties” or PRPs.  After identifying the proper hazardous waste removal plan for a specific, abandoned area, called Superfund sites, the next step is to try to ensure that the PRPs will be held accountable. 

As mentioned in the introductory section of this article, CERCLA also imposed a tax on the chemical and petroleum industry.  The funds from this tax (which was in effect from 1980 to 19995) were placed in a trust fund to be used for cleaning up activities in cases where no person or party can be identified as responsible for the hazardous waste.

CERCLA is under the administration of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The amounts that CERCLA or Superfund accumulates is for a specific use. Obv