The Universal Waste Rule of the USEPA regulations at 40 CFR 273 provides a valuable option for generators of certain hazardous waste – indeed, they must be a hazardous waste in order to be eligible to be a universal waste – to manage them under a lighter regulatory burden known as universal waste.
The USEPA currently identifies four universal waste:
- Mercury-containing equipment
- Recalled or canceled pesticides
Every state with an authorized hazardous waste program has the option to add to these base four thereby creating their own state-specific universal waste.
You can read more about the identification and management of universal waste here: The Universal Waste Option for the Management of Hazardous Waste.
The purpose of this article is to focus on just one requirement of the universal waste regulations: The responsibility of the universal waste handler to demonstrate the number of days its universal waste has accumulated on-site.
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USEPA regulations in Part 273 are mainly divided between the requirements of a small quantity handler of universal waste and a large quantity handler. In some instances (e.g. employee training) the regulations differ depending on a facility’s status with, of course, the heavier regulatory burden resting on the large quantity handler. Here, however, the requirements are the same for both a large and small quantity handler:
- A handler of universal waste may not accumulate universal waste it has generated on-site or received from another handler for more than one year unless it can demonstrate an extended period is necessary for the accumulation of sufficient quantities to make disposal, recycling, or treatment easier. 40 CFR 273.15(b) for SQH and 40 CFR 273.35(b) for LQH.
- A handler of universal waste must be able to demonstrate how long universal waste has accumulated at its site since being generated or received from another handler. 40 CFR 273.15(c) for SQH and 40 CFR 273.35(c) for LQH.
There are two ways a universal waste handler may acquire universal waste for on-site accumulation: Generate on-site or receive from another universal waste handler.
The demonstration of how long a universal waste has accumulated on-site can be accomplished in any one of the following ways:
- Mark or label the container with the date that the first universal waste was placed in it.
- Mark or label each individual item of universal waste (e.g., each battery or thermostat) with the date it became a waste or was received.
- Maintain an inventory system on-site that identifies the date each universal waste became a waste or was received.
- Maintain an inventory system on-site that identifies the earliest date that any universal waste in a group of universal waste items or a group of containers of universal waste became a waste or was received.
- Place the universal waste in a specific accumulation area and identify the earliest date that any universal waste in the area became a waste or was received.
- Any other method which clearly demonstrates the length of time that the universal waste has been accumulated from the date it became a waste or was received.
Question: What is an example of when “an extended period is necessary for the accumulation of sufficient quantities to make disposal, recycling, or treatment easier.”? And, how do I “demonstrate an extended period is necessary for the accumulation of sufficient quantities to make disposal, recycling, or treatment easier.”?
Answer/Example: After one year of on-site accumulation your container of universal waste lamps or batteries is only half-full and you wish to wait until the container is full before arranging for off-site disposal. You may demonstrate the need for more time by referring to past shipping documents of one-container quantities shipped out at greater than 1 year intervals. Or, the half-full container itself may be all the “demonstration” necessary. Just don’t accumulate three or four containers and tell the inspector you’re waiting to have an even dozen before shipping off-site.
Most states with which I am familiar, with the exception of California, allow for more than one year of on-site accumulation of universal waste if you can demonstrate a need. Some states require you to contact them to request their approval of your “need”. In any case, I recommend you check with your state prior to exceeding the one year on-site accumulation time limit for universal waste.
Contact me with any questions you may have about the generation, identification, management, and disposal of hazardous waste
Daniels Training Services
Do you generate a universal waste? How about used oil? Or hazardous waste? Or even non-hazardous waste? Certain generators of hazardous waste and universal waste are required to provide some form of training for affected employees. Everyone who works with or around hazardous waste would benefit from training that identifies the potential hazards, describes regulatory requirements for its management, and teaches emergency response procedures.