Hazardous Waste Counting

Last week we posted about the three different classifications of hazardous waste generators; small quantity generators (SQGs), Large Quantity Generators (LQGs), and Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs). These three categories are broken down based on the quantity of hazardous waste generated in a calander month.

Since hazardous waste generators are divided into these three separate categories based on the amount of waste they generate, it stands to reason that waste counting would be an important aspect of hazardous waste generation.

In order to properly determine their generator classification, generators must count the quantity of waste produced each month. The regulations about which hazardous wastes must be counted in a generators monthly determination can be found in 40 CFR §261.5 (c) and (d).

According to the EPA, “a generator must include all hazardous waste that it generates, except hazardous waste that:

  • Is exempt from regulation in §§261.4(c) through (f), 261.6(a)(3), 261.7(a)(1), or 261.8
  • Is managed immediately upon generation only in on-site elementary neutralization units,
  • Is recycled, without prior storage or accumulation, only in an on-site process subject to regulation in §261.6(c)(2)
  • Is used oil managed under the requirements in §261.6(a)(4) and Part 279
  • Is spent lead-acid batteries managed under the requirements in Part 266, Subpart G
  • Is universal waste managed pursuant to §261.9 and Part 273.”

In order to avoid double counting, §261.5 allows for some wastes not to be counted when determining generator classification. All of these wastes are counted when initially generated. These include:

  • Hazardous waste when removed from on-site storage.
  • Hazardous waste produced by on-site treatment (including reclamation) as long as the hazardous waste was counted once.
  • Spent materials generated, reclaimed, and subsequently reused on site, as long as the spent material is counted once during the calendar month.

All information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA document, “Introduction to Generators.” As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations. 

What are the Hazardous Waste Generator Classes?

In last Tuesday’s post we talked about what constitutes a hazardous waste generator. In that post, I mentioned that because hazardous waste generators produce waste in different quantities Congress breaks them down into three distinct categories. Today we’re going to cover what those three categories are and what qualifies a generator for each one.

When the original generator regulations were published in May of 1980, they set regulations for people who generated 1000 kg or more of hazardous waste in a calendar month and people who generated more than 1 kg of acutely hazardous waste in one calendar month. People who generated less than that were considered conditionally exempt and had reduced regulatory requirements set.

The regulations were amended in 1984 to more stringently regulate people who generated between 100 and 1000 kg of hazardous waste in a calendar month and again in March of 1986 when the final regulations were published. These final regulations established a third class of generator and narrowed the scope of conditional exemption to those people generating 100kg or less of hazardous waste in a calendar month. Generators who produce 1 kg or acutely hazardous waste are also exempt.

Generators now fall into one of three categories depending on the amount of waste they generate in a calendar month. The three different classes are broken down in the table below.

Quantity Determines Which Regulations

What is a Large Quantity Generator?

Large Quantity Generators (or LQG’s) produce 1000 kg or more of hazardous waste or 1 kg or more of acutely hazardous waste per calendar month. These generators and wastes are subject to full regulation.

What is a Small Quantity Generator?

Small Quantity Generators (or SQG’s) produce between 100 kg and 1000 kg of hazardous waste per calendar month. These generators and wastes are subject to modified regulations.  Generally, SQG’s must comply with some, but not all, of the regulations LQG’s must follow.

What is a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator?

Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (or CESQG’s) produce 100 kg or less of hazardous waste per calendar month. This category also includes generators who produce 1 kg or less of acutely hazardous waste, or 100 kg or less of contaminated soil, waste, or debris resulting from the cleanup of an acute hazardous waste spill. CESQGs are exempt from Parts 262 through 270 if they comply with the requirements in §261.5.

What is an Episodic Generator?

Occasionally, generators exceed or fall below their normal generation limits in a calendar month. When this happens the generator must take care to determine if the increase or decrease places them into a different generator category. If it does, “he or she is responsible for complying with all applicable requirements of that category for all waste generated during that calendar month. For example, if a generator produces 300 kg of hazardous waste in March, that waste must be managed in accordance with the SQG regulations; if the same generator produces 1,500 kg of hazardous waste in April, that waste must be managed in accordance with the LQG regulations.”

All information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA document, “Introduction to Generators.”  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations. 

Basics of Used Oil Management

A few years ago my sister got a birthday card for my dad that said “For your birthday I checked the oil in my car!” on the front (it’s funny because he used to harass us about this all the time, trust me, it’s hilarious). Then when you opened it, it said, “still black and yucky.” (See what I mean about the hilarity? Great card). To this day my father still likes to remind us that the oil in our cars should never be black but I digress.

As I finished that last paragraph it dawned on me that I never came up with a concrete way to segue this into a post about used oil management. I think I just remembered an anecdote that mentioned oil and thought I could go with it. Let’s pretend that I came up with a brilliant tie in and just keep moving along, shall we?

So used oil… used oil is any oil that has been refined from crude oil, or any synthetic oil that has been used and, as a result of that use, is contaminated by physical or chemical impurities. Used oil can further be broken down into four categories; lubricants, hydraulic fluid, metalworking fluid, and insulating fluid or coolant. Used oil does not include any of the following:

  • Oil or petroleum-based products
  • Virgin oils
  • Used oil residues or sludges resulting from the storage, processing, or re-refining of used oils
  • Used oil that fails the rebuttal
  • Listed oily hazardous waste

Regulation of used oil is dependent upon whether or not it will be recycled. Used oil destined for recycling is not regulated as hazardous waste. Used oil destined for disposal, however, is subject to hazardous waste determination and management. And used oil management is a whole new topic.

What are some specifications of used oil management?

Hazardous waste and contaminated used oil cannot be burned in non-industrial boilers. Additionally, quality specifications are established for used oil and if a used oil cannot meet these set specifications, it is subject to administrative controls and cannot be burned in non-industrial boilers.

Used oil that contains more than 1,000 PPM of total halogens (TX) is automatically presumed to have been mixed with spent solvents. Since EPA and used oil handlers sometimes found it difficult to determine if used oil had been mixed with a listed hazardous waste the EPA decided to use an objective test that focused on the halogen level in used oil. This objective test is known as the rebuttable presumption. The “rebuttable presumption” makes used oil a listed hazardous waste (F001/F002) unless it can be proven otherwise. Rebutting the F001/F002 listing presumption could include any or all of the following items:

  • MSDS indicating the presence of halogenated additives in virgin oil
  • Toxic organic management plan and other evidence of proper and adequate segregation practices
  • Demonstration that halogenated solvents came from non-listed sources
  • GC / MS analysis indicating <100 PPM of each individual F001/F002 constituent

Used Oil

Re the chart above, under PCB regulations used oils containing PCBs between 1-50 ppm (prior to dilution) are considered off-specification. Unanalyzed used oils are considered to be off-specifications for PCBs. (40 CFR 761.2(e)(1) & (2) and 40 CFR 279.10(i))

There are also some prohibitions set forth concerning used oil. For example, used oil cannot be managed in unpermitted surface impounds or waste piles, it cannot be used as a dust suppressant, it cannot be burned off in non-specified devices, and it cannot be mixed with hazardous waste. Generators must make sure to comply with all rules associated with used oil management in order to maintain RCRA compliance.

And as always, remember that this blog post is not intended to be a full list of regulations. It is vital that you always check with local and state governments and 40 CFR for the most up-to-date information.

Key DOT (Department of Transportation) Definitions (49 CFR 171.8)

Another point we cover in our RCRA training seminars are the regulations set by The Department of Transportation in relation to the transportation of hazardous wastes. In creating and enforcing these regulations they have established a working vocabulary that helps describe the types of wastes being moved and the aspects of the wastes that make them dangerous. The top 11 terms are listed and defined below.

Hazardous Material – for transportation purposes, a hazardous material is a substance or material, including a hazardous substance, which has been determined by the Secretary of Transportation to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and which has been so designated.

Hazardous Substance – for transportation purposes, a material, including its mixtures and solutions that:

  1. Is listed in the Appendix to the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT) at 49 CFR 172.101;
  2. Is in a quantity, in one package, which equals or exceeds the reportable quantity (RQ) listed in the Appendix to the HMT; and
  3. When in a mixture or solution, is in a concentration by weight which equals or exceeds the concentration corresponding to the RQ of the material, as shown in the following table:


This definition does not apply to petroleum products that are lubricants or fuels.

Hazardous Waste – for transportation purposes, any material that is subject to the Hazardous Waste Manifest Requirements of the U.S. EPA, as specified in 40 CFR Part 262.

Technical Name – a recognized chemical name currently used in scientific and technical handbooks, journals, and texts. Generic descriptions are authorized for use as technical names provided they readily identify the general chemical group. Examples of acceptable generic descriptions are organic phosphate compounds, petroleum aliphatic hydrocarbons, and tertiary amines. Except for names which appear in Subpart B of Part 172 of this subchapter, trade names may not be used as technical names.

RQ – for transportation purposes, the quantity of a hazardous substances listed as its Reportable Quantity in the Appendix to the HMT entitled “List of Hazardous Substances and Reportable Quantities”.

N.O.S. – Not otherwise specified.

Class Or Hazard Class – the category of hazard assigned to a hazardous material under the definitional criteria of 49 CFR Part 173 and the provisions of the HMT at §172.101. A material may meet the defining criteria for more than one hazard class but is assigned to only one hazard class. The nine (9) hazard classes, numbered 1-9, are defined at 49 CFR Part 173. The procedure for determining the classification of a material not specifically identified in the HMT which meets the definition of more than one hazard class is found at §173.2a.

Division – a subdivision of a hazard class.

Primary Hazard – the hazard class of a material as assigned in the HMT at §172.101.

Subsidiary Hazard – any hazard of a material other than the primary hazard.

Packaging Group – a grouping according to the degree of danger presented by hazardous materials. Packing Group I indicates great danger; Packing Group II, medium danger; Packing Group III, minor danger. See 172.101(f).