|In an effort to reach the entire University of Michigan (U-M) research community, as well as others on campus who may be generating hazardous waste, this Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) overview was developed as a guide to facilitate understanding of the regulations dealing with the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and/or disposal of hazardous and mixed waste.
The laws dealing with hazardous waste are complex, and the following is a relatively brief summary of some of the applicable provisions. This document is not intended to describe the entire statute or the application of the statute in a particular circumstance. The U-M campus community is encouraged to call the OSEH Hazardous Materials group at (734) 763-4568 with specific questions or for more complete information regarding hazardous waste, or visit our Web site at www.p2000.umich.edu. Readers outside U-M should contact their own safety and health department with hazardous waste inquiries.
Hazardous Waste Minimization Activities
The U-M has incorporated waste minimization applications in many activities throughout campus. Laboratories and maintenance units have instituted source reduction, reuse/re-distribution, and product substitution practices where feasible in an effort to reduce the generation of regulated hazardous waste. Equipment incorporating cutting-edge technology, and contracts that take advantage of chemical return policies also contribute to waste minimization.
Hazardous waste generated at U-M is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). RCRA directs an extremely complex program for managing hazardous waste, in which the primary objectives are to protect human health and the environment. Some of the RCRA objectives are accomplished by controlling hazardous waste from the point of generation, through transportation, to the ultimate treatment, storage, and/or disposal.
In addition to protecting human health and the environment, another objective of RCRA is to promote natural resource conservation by reducing the amount of waste generated. Resources can be conserved through source reduction practices and product substitution. Reuse and reclamation can help reduce the quantity of hazardous waste that requires disposal. Hazardous waste minimization is one of the best methods of reducing the burden of managing hazardous waste. Both the U.S. EPA and MDEQ encourage hazardous waste minimization through pollution prevention programs and hazardous waste recycling regulations.
RCRA (1976) amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965. In 1984, Congress passed the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments, which greatly expanded the scope of the RCRA program. Statutorily, the RCRA law consists of ten (10) components. Four major subtitles include: The Hazardous Waste Program (Subtitle C), The Solid Waste Program (Subtitle D), The Underground Storage Tank Program (Subtitle I), and The Medical Waste Program (Subtitle J). The Federal program under Subtitle J was for a limited time period and has not been reauthorized; it is currently expired.
Incorporated into the Act are provisions for waste minimization that influence the methods in which waste is managed. A few of the provisions include land disposal restrictions, new management regulations for underground storage tanks, restrictions on liquids in landfills, minimum technological requirements for landfills and surface impoundments, and waste minimization requirements for large quantity generators.
Hazardous Waste Management
Provisions under Subtitle C of RCRA "Hazardous Waste Management" provide the U.S. EPA and MDEQ authority to establish regulations for the identification and listing of hazardous waste and management standards applicable to the generation, transport, and disposal of hazardous waste. The EPA and MDEQ established specific standards for generators and transporters of hazardous waste, and owners/operators of treatment, storage and disposal facilities. The EPA issues or authorizes states to issue permits for treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.
Wastes subject to regulation under Subtitle C of RCRA are materials that meet the definition of a hazardous waste. The statutory definition of a hazardous waste under RCRA means a solid, liquid, or gaseous waste that may cause or significantly contribute to serious illness or death, or that poses a substantial threat to human health or the environment when the waste is improperly treated, transported, stored, disposed of, or mismanaged in any way.
The regulatory definition of a hazardous waste, issued by EPA and MDEQ, under RCRA is far more complex. For the purpose of this summary, a hazardous waste can be defined as a solid waste (including solid, semisolid, liquid or contained gaseous material) that is not excluded from the regulations and meets any of the following criteria:
Exhibits any of the hazardous waste characteristics (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity);
Is identified on any hazardous waste list:
Is a mixture of a solid waste and a listed hazardous waste (under review by EPA);
Is derived from the treatment, storage, or disposal of a listed hazardous waste (under review by EPA); and
Halogens in used oil.
Based on the complexity of the hazardous waste identification regulations, a material that is a hazardous waste under the statutory definition may not be defined as a hazardous waste under RCRA regulations. In addition, Michigan has added to EPA's classification of hazardous waste to include additional characteristics and listed wastes. The flowchart in Table 1 illustrates the procedure to identify whether a waste is a solid waste subject to regulation under RCRA Subtitle C.
Hazardous Waste Identification
The following criteria are used to identify whether a solid waste is a hazardous waste (it exhibits at least one of four characteristics, or is a listed waste).
1. Characteristic Waste: Four characteristics can define waste as hazardous.
The characteristics include ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity.
a. Ignitability: A solid waste exhibits the characteristic of ignitability if a representative sample of the waste has any of the following properties:
Solid waste exhibiting the characteristic of ignitability has the EPA hazardous waste number D001.
b. Corrosivity: A solid waste exhibits the characteristic of corrosivity if a representative sample of the waste has either of the following properties:
Solid waste exhibiting the characteristic of corrosivity has the EPA hazardous waste number D002.
Note: A waste that is not aqueous and contains no liquid falls outside the definition of EPA corrosivity and therefore cannot be considered a RCRA corrosive waste. However, Department of Transportation (DOT) may still regulate this material as a hazardous material.
c. Reactivity: A solid waste exhibits the characteristic of reactivity if a representative sample of the waste has any of the following properties:
Solid waste exhibiting the characteristic of reactivity has the EPA hazardous waste number D003.
d. Toxicity: A solid waste exhibits the characteristic of toxicity if, using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP), the extract from a representative sample of the waste contains any of the contaminants, at or above the concentration listed in the "Maximum Concentration of Contaminants for the Toxicity Characteristic" table, presented in RCRA Subtitle C Part 261.24. Solid waste exhibiting the characteristic of toxicity has the EPA hazardous waste number specified in the table that corresponds to the toxic contaminant causing it to be hazardous [eight heavy metals (D004D011), six pesticides (D012D017), 25 organics (D018D043)].
2. Listed Waste: Listed hazardous waste falls into two categories; "Process Wastes" and "Non-Process" Wastes. Within the two categories, hazardous waste must be identified by process description at the time of generation analysis alone will not determine this.
Note: The commercial chemical does not have to be in pure form to be an active ingredient; dilution to achieve the desired concentration in a chemical product is still regulated.
If a solid waste contains a listed hazardous waste, the material must meet both the specific listing criteria and the complete listing description in order to be considered a hazardous waste. Solid wastes that are listed hazardous wastes are identified by a letter (F, K, P, U) followed by a three digit number (i.e.; Acrolein has the hazardous waste number P003). The flowchart in Table 2 illustrates the procedure to identify whether a solid waste is a hazardous waste subject to regulation under RCRA Subtitle C.
Important to note: a hazardous waste may be identified by a characteristic without being a listed hazardous waste under RCRA.
In addition to characteristic and listed waste criteria that can be used to determine if a solid waste is a hazardous waste, mixtures of solid wastes and hazardous wastes may also be regulated as hazardous waste. There are two definitions to determine if a material is regulated under the mixture rule: 1) if the material is a mixture of a solid waste and a hazardous waste, and the mixture exhibits one or more of the characteristics of hazardous waste (ignitable, corrosive, reactive, toxic); 2) if the material is a mixture of a solid waste and one or more listed hazardous wastes (F, K, P, U).
Note: The EPA is currently re-evaluating the mixture and derived-from rules for listed hazardous wastes. Two proposed rules titled "The Hazardous Waste Identification Rule" and "The Hazardous Waste Identification Rule for Media" would automatically exclude from the definition of hazardous waste, residues derived from listed wastes and mixtures containing listed hazardous wastes. The rules would also apply to environmental media generated during government-overseen cleanup projects. If enacted, there would be specific analytical and notification requirements that need to be met in order to achieve the exclusions.
Separate from the mixture rule is the derived-from rule. Although the basis for identifying hazardous constituents is similar, the derived-from rule applies primarily to solid wastes generated or derived-from the treatment, storage, and disposal of a listed hazardous waste. As RCRA permitting is required for the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes, interpretation of the derived-from rule is beyond the scope of this overview.
Halogens in Used Oil
Following the mixture rule, used oil containing more than 1000 parts per million (ppm) total halogens is presumed to be a hazardous waste, because it has been mixed with a listed halogenated hazardous waste.
The U.S. EPA grants specific exclusions and relief from specific hazardous waste regulations that allow for reduced regulation if certain conditions are met. There are materials excluded from the definition of solid waste and certain solid wastes excluded from the definition of hazardous waste. This is due to certain materials not meeting the solid waste or hazardous waste definitions based on the way the terms are defined. The exclusions, in most cases, have limited specific applicability but can be used in a variety of situations making the exclusions useful in waste minimization programs.
Certain materials that are reclaimed qualify for exclusions from hazardous waste regulations if specific conditions are met. Examples include:
Along with regulatory exclusions, certain hazardous wastes being reclaimed qualify for partial regulatory relief when managed in specified ways. Examples include:
Used oil that exhibits a characteristic of hazardous waste being recycled is not subject to federal hazardous waste management regulations, but is regulated under Standards for the Management of Used Oil (40 CFR Part 279).
Universal wastes (including used batteries, certain pesticides, mercury containing thermostats, switches, thermometers, and electric lamps) may also qualify for reduced regulation. However, recycling, treatment, and/or disposal of universal wastes are regulated as with any other hazardous waste.
In addition to regulatory exclusions and relief for hazardous waste being reclaimed, the U.S. EPA also allows use/reuse exclusions, provided the reuse activity meets one of three explicit types as defined by the regulation: