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The Self-Transport of Universal Waste by a Universal Waste Handler

The Self-Transport of Universal Waste by a Universal Waste Handler

Pursuant to the universal waste regulations at 40 CFR 273 a Small Quantity Handler or a Large Quantity Handler of Universal Waste may self-transport Universal Waste off-site as long as it complies with the following:

  • Universal waste must be transported to another universal waste handler, a destination facility, or a foreign destination.
  • Handler must comply with the transporter requirements of §273, Subpart D while transporting the universal waste.

This article will make known the requirements of 40 CFR 273, Subpart D – Standards for Universal Waste Transporters.

The regulations of §273, Subpart D apply solely to a Universal Waste Transporter as defined at §273.9:

Universal Waste Transporter means a person engaged in the off-site transportation of universal waste by air, rail, highway, or water.

Similar to the requirements of a Universal Waste Handler (Small or Large), a Universal Waste Transporter:

  • Is prohibited from disposing of, diluting, or treating Universal Wastes except during the immediate response to a release.
  • Must immediately contain all releases of Universal Waste and other residues.
  • Must determine if the materials resulting from a release of Universal Waste is a Hazardous Waste and therefore subject to the regulations of §262.34.
  • Must limit the storage of Universal Waste at a transfer facility to no more than ten (10) days.  If Universal Waste is stored for more than ten days at a transfer facility, the transporter must immediately comply with the applicable requirements of a Universal Waste Handler (Large Quantity or Small Quantity).  More on the Universal Waste Transfer Facility below.
  • Is prohibited from transporting the Universal Waste to any place other than a Universal Waste Handler, a Destination Facility, or a foreign destination.

Pretty easy stuff.  The compliance with the regulations becomes more complicated for a Universal Waste Transporter if the Universal Waste meets the USDOT definition of a Hazardous Material (refer to 49 CFR 171.8).  If a Universal Waste does not meet the USDOT definition of a hazardous material, then only the regulations of 40 CFR 273, Subpart D as addressed in this article will apply.  If, however, the Universal Waste does meet the USDOT definition of a hazardous material, then its transportation in commerce is also subject to the USDOT’s Hazardous Material Regulations and will likely require the use of shipping papers, placards, HazMat labels, markings, specification packaging, and more.

It is important to note that a Universal Waste cannot meet the USDOT definition of a Hazardous Waste (also defined at 49 CFR 171.8) because the USEPA does not require the use of the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest for its off-site shipment.  Since a Universal Waste is not a Hazardous Waste, it must not be described on a shipping paper or packaging in either of the following manners:

  • With the proper shipping name of Hazardous waste, solid, n.o.s.
  • Placing the word “waste” prior to the proper shipping name.

What follows is my opinion on whether or not the four USEPA Universal Wastes meet the USDOT definition of a Hazardous Material when in transportation.  Please conduct your own classification prior to shipment. 

Lamps, if intact, are unlikely to be a Hazardous Material.  If broken, they may be a Hazardous Waste depending on the interpretation of your State.

Batteries will likely be a Hazardous Material.  Refer to the Hazardous Materials Table (49 CFR 172.101) to find a proper shipping name that matches the type of battery to be shipped.

Mercury Containing Devices may not be a Hazardous Material when transported by highway in a quantity of less than one pound.  Refer to column 1 of the Hazardous Materials Table and the symbols found there to make this classification.

Recalled or Canceled Pesticides will be a Hazardous Material when transported.

Your State may identify other Universal Wastes, such as:  electronic waste, used antifreeze, oil-based paints, paint & paint related waste, and more; you must conduct a classification on each of these prior to transportation.

While in transportation, a Universal Waste may be stored at a Universal Waste Transfer Facility for up to ten days before being returned to a vehicle for continued transportation.  If Universal Waste remains at the transfer facility for longer than ten days, then the facility is subject to the requirements of a Universal Waste Handler (either small or large).

Universal Waste Transfer Facility means any transportation-related facility including loading docks, parking areas, storage areas and other similar areas where shipments of universal waste are held during the normal course of transportation for ten days or less.

For exports of Universal Waste outside the US refer to 40 CFR 273.56 – Exports.

One final note:  Neither the Universal Waste Transporter not the Universal Waste Transfer Facility meet the definition of a Universal Waste Handler at §273.9 and are therefore not subject to the Handler requirements found at §273, Subpart B (Small Quantity Handler) and §273, Subpart C (Large Quantity Handler).

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about Universal Waste or any of the other regulations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).