The hazardous waste laws and subsequent regulations, known the "Resource Conservation and Recovery Act," or RCRA, are among the most strictly enforced environmental regulations in the country. Many small businesses with environmental compliance obligations generate hazardous waste. Generators must identify, classify and quantify their hazardous wastes. Taking these first steps helps them understand which regulatory performance standards apply to their facilities. RCRA regulations can vary from state to state but many states follow federal requirements.
Small businesses can contact their state SBEAPs or find their regulatory contact through the EPA Gateway State Hazardous Waste Locator. Keep in mind, most SBEAPs offer confidential assistance and the regulating agency is typically the enforcement arm of the state.
Hazardous and solid waste resources
Hazardous Waste State Resource Locator – Use this tool to find your state's regulations, along with permit forms, guidance, contact information and other helpful resources.
Hazardous Waste Portal – This resource is intended to help generators find hazardous waste compliance assistance resources. The portal contains more than 800 resources including both federal and state information, and covers most industrial and commercial business sectors as well as households.
CompTox chemical dashboard – This is a source of data for chemistry, toxicity and exposure for more than 875,000 chemicals.
Universal waste - Universal wastes are the more common hazardous wastes that pose a lower risk to people and the environment than other hazardous substances. Federal and state regulations identify universal wastes, and provide simple rules for handling, recycling and disposal.
Construction and demolition debris – Construction and demolition (C&D) debris refers to materials produced during renovation and/or demolition of structures, where structures include buildings (residential, commercial and institutional), roads and bridges. Many state and local governments are seeking ways to divert C&D debris from land disposal, including the promotion of recycling.
Medical waste – Waste contaminated by blood, body fluids, or other potentially pathogenic or infectious materials is considered regulated medical waste.
State-specific compliance assistance tools
Hazardous waste handler training -– This on-line training is specific to Kansas regulations, which are stricter than federal regulations with regard to generator category. The training costs $50 and allows participants a 30-day period for completion, after which a certificate of completion is sent by email.
Hazardous waste compliance calendar – Find the most recent version on the Hazardous Waste page.
Hazardous waste container management video – Improper container management is a common violation noted by regulatory inspectors. This short video provides an overview of requirements.
Although the Toxic Substance Control Act, or TSCA, is a separate regulation from RCRA, it is sometimes associated with facilities also regulated by RCRA. It addresses production, importation, use and disposal of specific chemicals. TSCA was recently updated by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which established a system for prioritizing existing chemicals for risk evaluation.