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    Complyrpedia is the knowledge base for businesses that are required to comply with California environmental regulations

Hazardous Waste

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A hazardous waste is a waste that is capable of causing harm to humans and organisms when mismanaged or released into the environment.

For something to be a hazardous waste, first it must be a waste. That is to say it is: abandoned, inherently waste-like, a discarded military munitions, or recycled item. For that waste to be a federal hazardous waste, it must be defined by statute as hazardous according to  40 CFR Part 261. Some federal hazardous wastes are identified by the following characteristics: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity. Others are explicitly listed as a hazardous waste. A good summary of federal hazardous waste characteristics can be found here” (California Department of Toxic Substances Control Website).

To further complicate the definition, California has its own hazardous waste list that goes above and beyond federal hazardous waste.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) offers a free hazardous waste classification online class.

If you are unsure if waste material on-site is hazardous, contact a qualified expert and handle all hazardous wastes in compliance with federal and state law.

Regulatory Agencies

Program Inclusion Conditions

Any business that generates any amount of hazardous waste is subject to regulation. 

Program Required Tasks

What to expect during an inspection

Inspections are usually conducted at the same time as hazardous material inspections by your local Unified Program Agency. During inspections expect to be evaluated for the following:

Hazardous waste is stored in compliance with requirements for: 

  • Container condition, labeling, chemical compatibility.
  • Container labeling.
  • Container compatibility.


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