If you run an Atlanta-based company that even potentially produces hazardous waste, it’s vitally important you understand what exactly goes into the hazardous waste definition. This knowledge will help ensure you not only comply with all state and federal laws regarding storage, shipment, treatment, and disposal, but it will also protect you against fines (or other punishments) that go along with noncompliance.

What Is Hazardous Waste & What Impact It May Have on Your A Company in Atlanta, Georgia?

In its most general sense, this type of waste is anything dangerous (or even potentially harmful) to humans, animals, or surrounding environments that come in contact with it.

This kind of waste can appear in the following forms:

  • Liquid.
  • Solid.
  • Sludge.
  • Gas.

What does or does not constitute hazardous waste is largely laid out in the federal regulations known as RCRA law. Passed in 1976, this is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and it remains the primary legislation surrounding the proper identification, treatment, and disposal of this type of waste.

Different Categories of Hazardous Material

By and large, hazardous materials fall into one of three major categories:

  • Characteristic hazardous waste.
  • Listed hazardous waste.
  • Universal waste.

Characteristic of Waste

These materials are sometimes referred to as “D-listed waste.” They are deemed hazardous based on a particular harmful characteristic, each of which has been assigned a particular hazardous waste code.

  • D001: ignitable.
  • D002: corrosive.
  • D003: reactive.
  • D004: toxic.

If your Atlanta business deals with materials that possess these characteristics, it’s important (for legal compliance and safety) to know how to handle these properly.

For example, reactive materials can be reactive with water, air, or other materials. Therefore, exposing the materials to air could be dangerous, or inadvertently mixing it with another material could be equally hazardous.

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. Reputable hazardous waste disposal companies can arrange for such tests.

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 disposal company that has the knowhow to correctly deal with your waste, it could quickly go from hazardous to downright dangerous.

Listed Hazardous Waste

The EPA has determined certain specific waste sources are hazardous and have compiled these into various lists, including F, K, P, and U lists.

  • F-list: nonspecific source waste.
  • K-list: source-specific waste.
  • P-list and U-list: discarded commercial chemical products.

Universal Waste

This kind of 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.

Acutely Hazardous Waste

This is generally considered the most hazardous of all waste streams, and it’s not all that common. (Some pharmaceutical drugs, for example, fall into this category.) If you believe you generate or have acutely hazardous waste, you should immediately get in contact with a qualified waste disposal company that can run the necessary tests, make the proper identifications, and legally and safely transport and treat that waste.

For more information about exactly what is RCRA hazardous waste or how you can properly deal with it if you do generate such waste, please feel free to reach out to MCF Environmental Services, a waste management Atlanta business with over twenty-five years in the industry.