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Household Hazardous Waste Regulations


Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Liability Act (CERCLA: 42 U.S.C. 9601) in 1980 to address the cleanup of inactive or abandoned sites. If cleanup of a hazardous waste disposal site is necessary, all sources of the waste, as well as the owner or operator of the site, might be potentially responsible parties (PRPs), who are liable for the entire cleanup cost for the site.

CERCLA, also known as Superfund, does not exclude household hazardous waste (HHW) from liability, nor does it allow any exemption based on the amount of waste generated. If HHW contains a substance defined as hazardous under CERCLA, potential liability exists. While CERCLA does not exempt HHW collection programs from liability, the potential for liability may be greater if a community takes no action to ensure proper disposal of HHW. The safeguards provided by HHW collection can reduce the likelihood of environmental and human health impacts, and potential CERCLA liability.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA: 42 U.S.C. 6921 {d}) in 1976. RCRA requires safeguards and encourages environmentally sound methods for disposal of household, municipal, commercial, and industrial waste. Hazardous waste is regulated under RCRA's Subtitle C. Subtitle C established a system for controlling hazardous waste from "cradle to grave"--from the moment it is generated until its ultimate disposal. RCRA requirements for hazardous waste management vary depending on whether the waste is generated by a household, or the quantity of waste generated by a facility.

In general, household hazardous waste generated from the home is exempt from hazardous waste regulation. However, homeowners are still required to ensure proper disposal that does not pose a health threat or create a public nuisance. Individuals can be held liable for the misuse or illegal disposal of household generated waste. Household waste, including HHW, is exempt from RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste regulations and liability. HHW is not regulated under RCRA as a hazardous waste (40 CFR 261.4 {b}{1}). Programs that collect HHW do not need a Subtitle C permit or EPA identification number, and HHW can be transported without following hazardous waste transportation regulations (e.g., people can bring HHW to a collection facility in their cars).

The household waste exemption applies to HHW through its entire management cycle. The waste collected through a HHW program does not lose its exemption by being consolidated with other household waste.

Some HHW programs provide disposal services for Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs). VSQGs are exempt from most hazardous waste requirements because of the quantity of waste they generate. Hazardous waste generators are conditionally exempt if they generate less than 100 kilograms (about 220 pounds) of hazardous waste, or one kilogram of acutely hazardous waste, per month.

VSQGs must comply with three requirements:

  • Identify all hazardous waste generated.
  • Do not store more than 1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste at their facility at one time.
  • Send their hazardous waste to a recycling facility, a hazardous waste facility, or a facility, permitted, licensed, or registered by the state to manage municipal or industrial solid waste.

Generators which commonly meet these criteria are:

  • schools;
  • small businesses;
  • farms;
  • government agencies; and
  • other commercial and institutional hazardous waste generators

The U.S. EPA offers more information about categories of hazardous waste generators.

Environmental Management Act (IC 13-7)

Indiana adopted RCRA through its rule making process. Indiana regulations pursuant to RCRA are set forth in 329 IAC 3.1.

Universal Waste Rule

The Universal Waste Rule (40 CFR 273) is a modification of the Hazardous Waste Rules, enacted under RCRA. The rule reduces the regulatory requirements applying to the handling of three general categories of widely generated (i.e. universal) hazardous waste:

  1. waste batteries;
  2. certain recalled, obsolete or unused pesticide products; and
  3. discarded mercury-containing thermostats.

Indiana adopted the Universal Waste Rule (329 IAC 3.1-16) through its rule making process, adding a fourth Universal Waste category:

  1. waste mercury-containing lamps.

Indiana regulations pursuant to the Universal Waste Rule became effective September 6, 1996.

This reduction in regulatory requirements is meant to serve as an incentive to channel these wastes into collection and recycling programs, diverting them from less environmentally desirable modes of disposal such as landfilling or incineration. Enactment of the Universal Waste Rule provides uniform criteria for managing universal wastes irrespective of their source. HHW programs can offer universal waste disposal services to regulated businesses, and mix the waste with wastes from households and CESQGs as long as it is managed according to universal waste guidelines.

Used Motor Oil

In September of 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published final standards for the management of used oil (40 CFR 279). Indiana adopted the federal rule as of March 5, 1997. The Indiana rule does not allow the mixing of hazardous waste with used motor oil and prohibits it being used as a dust suppressant. Under the rule, HHW programs may accept used oil from homeowners. HHW collection centers and service stations that accept used oil from do-it-yourself oil changers are considered to be generators. Management requirements for generators include: labeling and environmental release cleanup. Tracking, record keeping, notification and EPA identification number and are not required for generators.

Where can I recycle/drop off used oil and oil filters?

Community household hazardous waste collection programs and many retailers accept used motor oil and used oil filters from residents. IDEM provides a list of Solid Waste Management Districts and household hazardous waste programs [PDF]. Earth 911 lists community collections, private recyclers and private retailers that accept used oil (such as Walmart Tire and Lube Express, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Pep Boys, and Tractor Supply). When visiting the Earth 911 website, click on the “Find a Recycling Center” icon and search under the key word “automotive” near your city or town.

Occupational Safety and Health Act

The purpose of Occupational Safety and Health Act 29 CFR 1910 is to inform workers of workplace risks, identify and ameliorate workplace hazards, and train workers in safe work practices and the use of safety equipment. Since HHW programs do not use the waste brought to them for disposal, not all OSHA hazard communication and hazardous material requirements apply to their activities:

  • Programs that store or package HHW under the DOT Lab Pack exemption (49 CFR 173.12) are not required to have material safety data sheets for the products or label the HHW (under 29 CFR 1910.1200), but must follow 29 CFR 1910.1200 requirements for hazard evaluation and training, and the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.132 through 138.
  • Programs that bulk paint and other flammable liquids, or accept hazardous substances must follow the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1200, 29 CFR 1910.132 through 138, and 29 CFR 1910.106 for the use of personal protective equipment.
  • Household hazardous waste facilities must follow the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.38 which sets requirements for emergency action plans and fire prevention plans, and 29 CFR 1910.157 for portable fires extinguishers.

Hazard Communications

The purpose of 29 CFR 1910.1200 is to ensure that chemical hazards are evaluated, and information concerning hazards and appropriate protective measures are communicated to workers. Hazard communication is to be accomplished by means of a comprehensive program, which should include container labeling and other forms of warning, material safety data sheets, and employee training.

Flammable and Combustible Liquids

29 CFR 1910.106 sets standards for facilities that store flammable and combustible liquids. 106 (e) applies to operations involved in mixing which do not involve chemical reaction. Flammable and combustible liquids must be stored in closed containers that are labeled according to hazard class. 29 CFR 1910.106 sets requirements for proper storage, ventilation and electrical wiring in rooms in which flammable and combustible liquids are stored.

Personal Protective Equipment

29 CFR 1910.132 through 138 provides requirements for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers. An assessment must be performed to determine if hazards are present, or likely to be present, which necessitate the use of PPE and documented in writing. Workers must use PPE appropriate to the hazards identified that is not defective or damaged, and must be trained in the use and care of the PPE.

Emergency Action Plans and Fire Prevention Plans/Portable Fire Extinguishers

29 CFR 1910.38 sets requirements for written emergency action plans and fire prevention plans. The emergency action plan must cover actions that must be taken to ensure employee safety from fire and other emergencies. The fire prevention plan must include a list of the major workplace fire hazards, their proper handling and storage procedures, potential ignition sources and control procedures, and a description of fire protection, training equipment or systems in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.157 which sets standards for portable fires extinguishers.

Treatment, Storage and Disposal

IDEM encourages communities and SWMD to follow best practices in the operation of their HHW programs. 29 CFR 1910.120 (p) sets requirements for treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) facilities. It is a useful guide for developing procedures for household hazardous waste programs. HHW program managers should consider the following areas of 29 CFR 1910.120 in developing operating procedures:

  • Safety and health program - 29 CFR 1910.120 (b)
  • Medical surveillance program - 29 CFR 1910.120 (f) and Retention of medical records - 1910.20 (d)
  • Decontamination program - 29 CFR 1910.120 (k)
  • Training program - 29 CFR 1910.120 (e)

Department of Transportation (DOT)

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) sets standards applicable to transporters of hazardous waste (40 CFR 263), and general requirements for shipments, packaging, and labeling waste (49 CFR 172). The following subparts of 49 CFR 172 are of concern to HHW programs in managing waste: Marking, Subpart D; Labeling, Subpart E; Placarding, Subpart F; Emergency Response, Subpart G; and Training, Preparation of hazardous materials for shipment, Subpart H. HHW programs must ensure that wastes are:

Segregated and classified according to D.O.T. hazard class

  • Known chemicals are packaged according to D.O.T. guidelines as specified in 49 CFR 173.12
  • Unknown or unlabeled waste are identified in order to classify and package the waste according to hazard class
  • Waste is transported on properly licensed and placarded vehicles according to hazard class
  • Waste is disposed or recycled at a RCRA approved facility

Indiana Building Code

Chapter 9 of the Indiana Building Code sets construction and design standards applicable to facilities in which HHW is stored and managed, including spill control, drainage and containment, fire access, ventilation, and explosion control.

Fire Code

HHW programs must comply with the requirements of the Office of Fire and Building Services in the handling, segregation, bulking and storage of wastes. Article 79, Division II of the Indiana Fire Prevention Code sets standards for the storage of flammable liquids in facilities. Article 80 sets standards for the storage of hazardous materials.