What is a Hazardous Waste?
In simplest terms a hazardous waste is a material
that you dispose, throw away, or otherwise discard that has some
sort of dangerous property.
In regulatory terms a “hazardous waste” is
a liquid or solid material that meets specific criteria determined
by federal and sometimes state laws. There are two general methods
the laws use to determine if a material is considered a hazardous
waste: Listed wastes and Characteristic wastes.
In the first method, materials that are known to
be hazardous for one reason or another are included in one of
several published lists. Any discarded material that is specifically
included in one of these lists is automatically considered a
Using the second method, if a material is not a
listed waste then the material’s properties or “characteristics” are
examined. If it meets one or more of the definitions of being
flammable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic then it is considered a
Some of the most common hazardous wastes that are
produced by small businesses include fuels, solvents, paints, acids.
Every waste chemical or material that you
produce needs to be examined to determine if it a regulated
The laws are several inches thick when published
so you can imagine that the laws are much more complex than the very
basic explanation above. There are many exceptions or special
requirements for certain materials that are especially dangerous,
easily handled, or recycled.
Regulations concerning the management of hazardous
wastes are issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
and by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
There is a lot of help and guidance available from
both these agencies and from many other sources. Please visit the
links on this page for more information.