What is Hazardous Waste?
A waste is something that is no longer useful; it's used up or contaminated. Hazardous wastes are corrosives, ignitables, oxidizers or toxins listed in the State Rules. Here is a partial list of some common wastes that may be hazardous:
- Dry cleaning wastes
- Electroplating waste
- Ink waste
- Paint, thinner and related material
- Photographic waste
- Rags with solvent/ink/paint
- Residues or sludges
- Stripper waste
- Used batteries
- Used oil and related wastes
- Wastes containing toxic metals
You are required to figure out if your wastes are hazardous - a process called evaluation. You can use the Material Safety Data sheet supplied with your product, thinking about your process and any contamination that could occur or send a sample to a testing laboratory.
Does My Business Generate it?
Businesses generate waste, some of it may be hazardous. These businesses could generate hazardous waste:
- Auto Body shops
- Dry cleaners
- Electronics shops
- Furniture refinishers
- Medical/Dental offices
- Metal fabricators/machine shops
- Photography studios
- Printers/graphic artists
- Vehicle repair shops
This is just a partial listing. If your business type is not listed, you still need to evaluate your waste.
Evaluating Wastes: Exempt Wastes
Wastes are non-hazardous, exempt or hazardous. First, figure out if your waste is exempt. If it is, your hazardous waste evaluation is complete! Remember, wastes that are exempt may still be regulated by another program.
A list of exempt wastes appears below.
- normal household refuse
- non - household refuse (paper, cardboard, plastics)
- samples sent to a testing laboratory
- recycled scrap metal
- demolition debris
- hazardous waste that is generated in tanks, pipelines or transport vehicles until it leaves the unit
- waste discharged to surface waters under a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit
- mining overburden and certain wastes from processing ores
- fly ash and related wastes from burning fossil fuel
- waste from emergency spill cleanups approved by the MPCA commissioner
- certain wastes containing chromium III.
If your waste wasn't exempt answer the following questions.
- Is it a listed waste?
- Is it a characteristic waste?
- Does it contain more than 50 parts per million (ppm) PCBs?
Waste Evaluations: Listed Wastes
These wastes are found on specific lists in the Minn. R. pt. 7045.0135. These wastes are defined by the Rules as hazardous wastes. Some common examples appear below.
- 'F' listed wastes are from non-specific processes. Typical ones include solvents or mixtures of solvents, like trichloroethylene, methylene chloride, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone or xylene. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) can identify the types of solvents that are used in your product. Other 'F' listed wastes include distillation bottoms, wastewaters, or spent baths and solutions.
- 'K' listed wastes are from specific processes such as wood preserving, petroleum refining, metal smelting, or the formulation of certain products.
- 'P' and 'U' listed wastes are discarded, commercial chemical products, off-spec products, containers, and spill residues. 'P' listed wastes are acutely toxic.
Waste Evaluations: Characteristic Wastes
These wastes have a physical property that makes them hazardous. A complete definition of these can be found in Minn. R. pt. 7045.0131.
- Ignitable wastes are generally liquids with a flashpoint of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Mineral spirits is a good example.
- Oxidizing wastes contribute oxygen to a fire. They may be chemicals whose names begin with per, have ate in the name, or end with oxide.
- Corrosive wastes have a pH of less than or equal to 2 (strong acids) or greater than or equal to 12.5 (strong bases). A common example is a lead acid battery.
- Reactive wastes react violently with air or water, release toxic vapors, like sulfide or cyanide bearing wastes, or are shock sensitive.
- Toxic wastes are certain metals, pesticides or herbicides, and volatiles or semi-volatile organics. When tested in a laboratory, the wastes release these compounds above certain limits.
- Lethal wastes cause death when ingested, inhaled or absorbed.
Waste Evaluations: PCB Wastes
The final waste to evaluate are PCBs above 50 parts per million. Examples of PCB wastes include capacitors in older appliances, oil from older utility transformers and many old fluorescent lamp ballasts. Unless the ballasts are labeled as NOT containing PCBs, you need to test them or manage them as a hazardous waste.
If you generate hazardous waste, you have some basic requirements. The following information is provided as an overview and is not intended to be comprehensive. You can view the Hazardous Waste Rules in their entirety at the MPCA's website.
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