If you run an Atlanta-based company that even potentially produces hazardous waste, it’s vitally important to understand what exactly goes into the hazardous waste definition. This knowledge helps ensure compliance with not only Georgia state laws, but those of the federal government. Both must be followed. Compliance regarding storage, shipment, treatment, and disposal also protects you and your company from fines and other unpleasant penalties.

01   /   What is Hazardous Waste & What impact does it have on your Atlanta, Georgia company?

The state of Georgia, like other states, must follow federal guidelines for hazardous waste disposal. Per the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR Part 261, §261.3), hazardous waste is defined as any waste that exhibits any of the characteristics of hazardous waste found in subpart C. Clear as mud, right?

Basically, a hazardous waste is any type of waste that is potentially dangerous or even potentially harmful to humans, animals, or surrounding environments such waste may come into contact with. Hazardous waste can take many forms:

  • Liquid
  • Solid
  • Sludge
  • Gas

What does or does not constitute hazardous waste is largely laid out in the federal regulations known as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, of the Environmental Protection Agency. This act remains the primary legislation surrounding the proper identification, treatment, and disposal of hazardous waste.

The primary source for Georgia’s waste regulations come from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Be aware that Georgia closely follows the regulations of the federal government and will also direct you to sources such as the federal EPA and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

In addition to the federal code of regulations for hazardous waste handling, storage, and disposal, you will also find information on the topic in Part 1, Article 3 of the Georgia Hazardous Waste Management Act. More specifically, review recent and proposed amendments to this rule. Chapter 391-3-11 for Rules for Hazardous Waste Management presented by the Environmental Protection Division of the state of Georgia. Be aware that Georgia Rules References in regard to hazardous waste are also referenced in the federal regulations. For example, Federal Regulation 40 CFR §262 if also referenced in Georgia’s Rules References as 391-3-11-.08(1). These can be found here.

02   /   Categories and Characteristics of Hazardous Materials

Generally, hazardous materials fall into one of three major categories:

  • Characteristic hazardous waste
  • Listed hazardous waste
  • Universal waste

Waste Characteristics

Per the EPA, a hazardous waste is listed in F, K, P, and U lists (under CFR Title 40, §261). For example, the F-list contains a listing of common industrial or manufacturing wastes. The K-list is more detailed and lists hazardous wastes that are source-specific.

The P-lists and U-lists include discarded commercial chemical products.

The listing of classes and/or types of waste is identified with the following hazard codes:

  • Ignitable (I)
  • Corrosive (C)
  • Reactive (R)
  • Toxicity Characteristic Waste (E)
  • Acute Hazardous Waste (H)
  • Toxic (T)

If your Atlanta business deals with materials that possess these characteristics, it’s important (for compliance and safety) to know how to handle these properly. For example, reactive materials can be sensitive or responsive to water, air, or other materials. Inadvertently mixing, exposure or cross-contamination of different types or classes of hazardous waste is dangerous.

RCRA metals—also sometimes known as the “RCRA 8″— fall under this type of waste. If you suspect you have contamination from these metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, selenium, or silver), confirmation through proper identification and testing is necessary. A reputable hazardous waste disposal company can handle or arrange for such tests.

Classification of hazardous wastes is not always simple. For example, if you run a dry-cleaning business in Atlanta, be particularly aware of your PERC waste production, which also is considered characteristic waste.

Whatever your industry, if you’re not working with a qualified hazardous waste service or disposal company that knows how to properly deal with your waste, you may be risking not only the safety of your employees and the general public, but face serious fines for improper hazardous waste collection and disposal.

03   /   Universal Waste

Universal waste includes items such as batteries and light bulbs. Essentially, it’s waste that’s been deemed so common that it doesn’t contribute to your EPA generator status. (Be aware, however, that just because it doesn’t contribute to a generator status, it still requires proper disposal. Some of these items contain mercury and other equally harmful elements.)

This rule was put in place to help push people to do the right thing—even for common, everyday waste that not everyone might realize is actually hazardous. Download the Georgia rule regarding universal waste handling from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to maintain compliance. And yes, this rule also follows the guidelines of 40 CFR Part 273!

04   /   Acutely Hazardous Waste

Acutely hazardous waste is generally considered the most hazardous of all waste streams, and are typically found in the P-list that contains pharmaceutical drugs, among other items. The Georgia Environmental Compliance Assistance Program (GECAP) provides a number of helpful documents to identify and compliantly and safely deal with acutely hazardous waste. One of those is a list of such wastes, and includes the waste and chemical abstracts numbers, as well as the substances found in Georgia’s state guidelines.

If you believe you generate any type of hazardous waste, contact us. We are a qualified hazardous waste disposal company that can run the necessary tests, make the proper identification of potentially hazardous wastes, and legally and safely transport and treat that waste.

For more information about MCF Environmental Services, an Atlanta, Georgia-based waste management business with over twenty-five years in the industry, call us today or request a quote.

Robert Losurdo

President, COO