Daniels Training Services

The Basis for a Hazardous Waste Determination

The Basis for a Hazardous Waste Determination

40 CFR 262.11 requires a hazardous waste determination be completed by all generators of solid waste for all waste they generate (read this article on the Hazardous Waste Determination).  To complete the determination may require a combination of samples analysis and application of your knowledge of the waste. It is important to note that the regulations do not specify, nor require, one of these methods of determination (analysis-based v. knowledge-based) over the other.

An outline for the process of hazardous waste determination can be found at 40 CFR 262.11, it reads:

Step 1:  Determine if the solid waste is excluded from regulation as a hazardous waste per 40 CFR 261.4, and;

Step 2:  Determine if the waste is a listed hazardous waste pursuant to 40 CFR 261, Subpart D.

The regulations do not specify a method to make the determinations in steps 1 & 2, however, it is assumed that both will rely on the generator’s knowledge of his waste and the applicable regulations (ie. knowledge-based) since there are no test methods available for the determination of a regulatory exclusion (Step 1) or for the presence of a listed hazardous waste (Step 2).

Step 3:  Determine if the waste is a characteristic hazardous waste pursuant to 40 CFR 261, Subpart C.  The regulations do specify that this determination may be made by one of two methods:

  1. Analysis-Based.
  2. Knowledge-Based.

An analysis-based hazardous waste determination requires you to collect a representative sample of the solid waste and submit it to an  accredited lab for analysis by an approved test method.

The performance of a knowledge-based hazardous waste determination relies on your familiarity with the processes generating the waste and/or your ability to gather any additional information necessary to make the determination.  Sources of information in order to make your hazardous waste determination may include:

  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
  • Information from employees or contractors involved in the process of generating the waste.
  • Information from suppliers or vendors.

Many generators of hazardous waste are surprised to learn that an analysis-based method is not required in order to determine the presence of a characteristic hazardous waste.  US EPA assumes that as the generator of a solid waste you have available the information necessary to make the hazardous waste determination without resorting to analysis of a sample of the waste.  However, in many cases, such as flash point analysis for the determination of the characteristic of Ignitability, an analysis-based method is inexpensive and may carry more weight with an inspector.

Regardless of the method used to make your hazardous waste determination, 40 CFR 262.40(c) requires you to keep records of any test results, waste analyses, or other information for at least three years from the date that the waste was last sent to on-site or off-site treatment, storage, or disposal, so if your determination is knowledge-based, you must still have some form of documentation to back-up your results.

The US EPA does not specify a method for the hazardous waste determination, it does however hold you as the generator of the waste solely responsible for the correct completion of the determination (RO 13570).

At my training I cover the hazardous waste determination in detail and tell you what you need to know to complete the determination at you facility.  Please contact me with a question about the hazardous waste you generate and your training needs.