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Management of Empty Containers in Texas

Management of Empty Containers in Texas

State of TexasAs a state with an authorized hazardous waste program, Texas has its own regulations for the management of hazardous waste enforced by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).  In addition, Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) empowered the states to manage non-hazardous waste as they see fit with minimal oversight from the US EPA.  For better or worse, Texas has exercised this authority to create extensive regulations pertaining to non-hazardous waste generated at industrial facilities (Industrial Solid Waste).  TCEQ identifies an Industrial Solid Waste as:

Industrial Solid Wastes are not hazardous waste and result from (or are incidental to) operations of industry, manufacturing, mining, or agriculture – for example, wastes from power generation plants, manufacturing facilities, and laboratories serving an industry.

Industrial Solid Waste are further broken down into three classes:

  • Class 1 – toxic, corrosive, flammable, a strong sensitizer or irritant, may generate sudden pressure, or may pose a substantial potential danger.
  • Class 2 – cannot be described as a Class 1 or Class 3.
  • Class 3 – inert, essentially insoluble, and not readily decomposable.

With that very brief introduction (refer to the TCEQ guidance document for more information:  Guidelines for the Classification and Coding of Industrial and Hazardous Wastes), I’ll proceed to the point of this article:  The Management of Empty Containers in Texas.

We start with a container that meets the definition (both US EPA & TCEQ regulations agree) of RCRA Empty.  If RCRA Empty, a container and its residue are no longer regulated as a hazardous waste.  It is, however, regulated by the TCEQ as an Industrial Solid Waste.  As the generator, you must determine if it is a Class 1 or Class 2 Industrial Solid Waste and manage accordingly.

A RCRA Empty container is a Class 1 Industrial Solid Waste if its capacity is >5 gallons and it previously stored a:

  • Hazardous Substance as defined at 40 CFR Part 302,
  • Hazardous Waste,
  • Class 1 Industrial Solid Waste, and/or
  • a material that would be classified as a hazardous waste or Class 1 Industrial Solid Waste if disposed.

A RCRA Empty container is a Class 2 Industrial Solid Waste if:

  • Its capacity is ≤5 gallons, or
  • it previously stored a Class 2 Industrial Solid Waste.

You may classify a Class 1 empty container as a Class 2 under the two following options:

Option 1:  Both of the following conditions are true:

  1. The residue is completely removed by one of the following:
    • Triple rinsing with a solvent capable of removing the waste,
    • Hydro-blasting, or
    • by other methods.
  2. The container is crushed, punctured, or subjected to other mechanical treatment that renders it unusable.

Option 2:  The container will be recycled and all of the following are true:

  1. The residue is completely removed by one of the following:
    • Triple rinsing with a solvent capable of removing the waste,
    • Hydro-blasting, or
    • by other methods.
  2. The container is not regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
  3. The generator maintains documentation per 30 TAC 335.513 – Documentation Required, that demonstrates the container is being recycled.
  4. The recycling activity involves one of the following:
    • shredding,
    • dismantling,
    • scrapping,
    • melting,
    • or other method that renders the container unusable.

Your onsite management, offsite disposal, recordkeeping, reporting, etc. will all depend on how much and what Class of Industrial Solid Waste you generate.  Classifying your empty containers is just one small step of a long process to ensure you are in compliance with the regulations of the US EPA and the TCEQ.  I recommend you to the TCEQ guidance document I linked to earlier in this article for additional guidance.  Or, contact me for a free consultation on the applicable Texas regulations.  You may also consider Onsite Training as a way for you and all your employees to learn the applicable regulations of the TCEQ.