Final Rule: Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements

Rule Summary

The EPA Administrator signed the final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule on October 28, 2016 and it was published in the Federal Register (FR) on November 28, 2016.

This rule finalizes a much-needed update to the hazardous waste generator regulations to make the rules easier to understand, facilitate better compliance, provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed, and close important gaps in the regulations.

Two key provisions where EPA is finalizing flexibility are:

  1. Allowing a hazardous waste generator to avoid increased burden of a higher generator status when generating episodic waste provided the episodic waste is properly managed and
  2. Allowing a very small quantity generator (VSQG) to send its hazardous waste to a large quantity generator under control of the same person.

In addition to finalizing key flexibilities, the rule enhances the safety of facilities, employees, and the general public by improving hazardous waste risk communication and ensuring that emergency management requirements meet today’s needs.

Further, the EPA is finalizing a number of clarifications without increasing burden including a reorganization of the hazardous waste generator regulations so that all of the generator regulations are in one place.

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Rule History

The hazardous waste generator regulatory program was originally promulgated in 1980. Over the course of the last 35 years, the Agency, through experience with implementing the program, and in various meetings, correspondence, and discussions with the states and the regulated community, has become aware of the need for more clarity, consistency and flexibility.

Many of these issues were identified in a 2004 program evaluation of the hazardous waste generator program conducted by EPA. In 2013, a separate EPA program evaluation addressing hazardous waste determinations also identified a number of concerns related to generators being able to make a proper hazardous waste determination. Several of the proposed provisions were also responsive to the Notice of Data Availability (79 FR 8926, February 14, 2014) that EPA issued on the retail sector asking for comment on hazardous waste management practices in that sector and on challenges they face in complying with Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

After consolidating the feedback from the regulated community, states and other stakeholders, EPA developed a proposal to improve the entire hazardous waste generator program to strengthen environmental protection while ensuring businesses have the flexibility and certainty they need to successfully operate. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register (FR) on September 25, 2015 (80 FR 57918).

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Additional Resources