December 16, 2021

RCRA Waste Minimization Program Requirements

Hazardous waste generators must have a waste minimization program, required by section 1003(b) of RCRA, which states the following:

“[W]herever feasible, the generation of hazardous waste is to be reduced or eliminated as expeditiously as possible. Waste that is nevertheless generated should be treated, stored, or disposed of so as to minimize the present and future threat to human health and the environment.”

Waste minimization requirements are different for small quantity generators (SQG) and large quantity generators (LQG). An SQG must certify it has made a good faith effort to minimize waste generation and selected the best available and affordable waste management method. An LQG must certify it has a program in place to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste to the economically practicable degree. LQGs must also select the practicable method of treatment, storage, or disposal currently available to minimize the present and future threat to human health and the environment [§262.27, RO12767]. The regulations do not provide any details for generators who must make these waste minimization certifications. Furthermore, the regulations do not require generators to have a written description of their waste minimization program, nor do they specify what the plan should contain. Consequently, waste minimization tends to be forgotten or becomes a smaller part of a corporate sustainability program.

EPA, however, recommends a facility document its program and have the documentation signed by the corporate officer in charge of ensuring compliance. The agency also suggests a waste minimization program must contain six general elements:

  1. Top management support by setting explicit goals, training employees, and integrating waste minimization into the organization’s policy.
  2. Characterization of waste generation and waste management costs. Accomplished by maintaining a waste accounting system and determining the true costs of waste management and cleanup.
  3. Periodic waste minimization assessments through identifying opportunities at all points in a process where materials can be prevented from becoming wastes.
  4. Allocating costs where practical and implementable to waste generation activities.
  5. Encouraging the sharing of best practices from other parts of the organization, other companies, trade affiliates, professional consultants, or university/government programs.
  6. Program implementation and evaluation, including identifying areas of improvement, conducting periodic reviews, and implementing all recommendations. [58 FR 31114]

States may have their own pollution prevention requirements, which may include hazardous waste minimization. If your state requires you to have a pollution prevention program, the program could fulfill §262.27 requirements by incorporating activities to reduce hazardous waste.

 


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Considerable care has been exercised in preparing this document; however, McCoy and Associates, Inc. makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with the publication of this information. McCoy and Associates, Inc. expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the violation of any federal, state, or municipal law or regulation with which this information may conflict. McCoy and Associates, Inc. does not undertake any duty to ensure the continued accuracy of this information.

This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal RCRA regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the RCRA regulations should review state and local laws and regulations, which may be more stringent than federal requirements. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any site-specific circumstances.