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The Waste Minimization Mandate for Hazardous Waste Generators

The Waste Minimization Mandate for Hazardous Waste Generators

Waste Minimization is not just a nice sounding phrase that we roll out once a year around Earth Day.  As a generator of hazardous waste 40 CFR 262.27 requires you to demonstrate some form of waste minimization activity depending on your hazardous waste generator status.

If you are unaware of this requirement, you need only read Section 15 (Generator’s/Offeror’s Certification) of the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest the next time you ship hazardous waste off-site; the last line reads:

I certify that the waste minimization statement identified in 40 CFR 262.27(a) (if I am a large quantity generator) or (b) (if I am a small quantity generator) is true.

Note that the applicable waste minimization statement depends on your hazardous waste generator status (LQG v. SQG); CESQG is not required to take steps for waste minimization, and indeed, is not required to use the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest at all.  You must then refer to the applicable regulations to determine your responsibility.

Large Quantity Generator @ 40 CFR 262.27(a) reads:

I am a large quantity generator. I have a program in place to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste generated to the degree I have determined to be economically practicable and I have selected the practicable method of treatment, storage, or disposal currently available to me which minimizes the present and future threat to human health and the environment.

Small Quantity Generator @ 40 CFR 262.27(b) reads:

I am a small quantity generator. I have made a good faith effort to minimize my waste generation and select the best waste management method that is available to me and that I can afford.

So, an LQG must have a “program in place…” while an SQG need only make a “good faith effort…”.  Neither mandates a written Waste Minimization Plan, though it may be a good idea if for no other reason than to have an easy means of demonstrating compliance in the event of an inspection.  EPA outlined six basic elements that should be included in the waste minimization program in the May 28, 1993 Federal Register (58 FR 31114), they include:

  1. Top Management Support
  2. Characterization of Waste Generation and Waste Management Costs
  3. Periodic Waste Minimization Assessments
  4. Cost Allocation
  5. Technology Transfer
  6. Program Implementation and Evaluation

If you are not in compliance with 40 CFR 262.27 take note that every time you or an employee sign the uniform hazardous waste manifest you are certifying that you do have such a program.  Your next EPA inspection may be the one where you are required to demonstrate compliance.

Check out this Guide to Writing a Waste Minimization Plan from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Contact me with any questions you may have about the generation, identification, management, and disposal of hazardous waste

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The use of the manifest identifies you as a generator of hazardous waste and as a shipper of hazardous materials, which includes hazardous waste.  You are required to provide HazMat Employee Training and RCRA Training for Hazardous Waste Personnel.