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Household Hazardous Waste

Households generate several types of hazardous wastes and they are classified as Household Hazardous Wastes (HHW). These wastes include batteries, certain recalled, obsolete or unused pesticide products, mercury-containing thermostats and lamps, used motor oil and oil filters, and antifreeze. Unused pesticide products may be subject to disposal regulations other than RCRA. Used oil filters that are not hot drained and used oil are regulated under the Used Oil Rules in 329 IAC 13.

HHW Regulations

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

Hazardous waste is regulated under RCRA 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.
  • HHW, that has been collected, transported, stored, treated, disposed, recovered, or reused, is not a hazardous waste under RCRA (40 CFR 261.4 (b)(1)).
  • Programs that collect HHW do not need a Subtitle C permit or U.S. EPA identification number.
  • 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.


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 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.

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