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Stericycle’s EPA Knowledge Center

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Last updated June 04, 2021

EPA Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

On May 30, 2017, the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (HWGIR) was effective. EPA made over 60 revisions to the hazardous waste generator rules with this rulemaking.  The goal of the changes was to improve compliance of generators by creating an improved user-friendly regulation; for example, the EPA has re-organized and consolidated definitions and regulations into one area for all generators.  This guide is intended to provide a high-level overview of these changes. 

States were required to adopt changes that are more stringent than the current regulations but did not have to incorporate changes that are less strict than current regulations.  States adoption is not yet complete, please visit EPA’s site for the most current state adoption information. 

ALERT: SQG RENOTIFICATION DUE BY SEPTEMBER 1, 2021

Under EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule, small quantity generators (SQGs, generating between 200 and 2200 lbs of non-acute hazardous waste per month) are now required to re-notify every four years. To satisfy this requirement, SQGs need to update their Notification of RCRA Subtitle C Activities (Site Identification Form), also known as EPA Form 8700-12, or state equivalent by September 1, 2021.  This is required in states that have adopted the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule, a list of those states can be found here

Note: SQGs submitting Site ID forms in the four years prior to 2021 for another purpose, such as notifying as a healthcare facility under the 2019 Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals final rule, satisfy the re-notification requirement.

You may also be sent an email or postcard reminding of this requirement by the EPA and/or your state regulatory agency. Some states have electronic reporting options available for this notification.

Electronic Submittal Information

SQGs are encouraged to submit the re-notification electronically via MyRCRAID by logging into RCRAInfo and requesting MyRCRAID permissions for your site (if you have not already registered). You can log into or register for RCRAInfo here. Then, you should create a New Submission and select the option to provide a subsequent notification. The form will be pre-populated with the most recent information for your site in RCRAInfo.

Paper Submittal Information

SQGs should submit the Site ID Form and select the choice in Item 1 to obtain or update an EPA ID number. Complete the form with the current information for your site. Sign the form and submit it.

For more information and to see if this requirement is in effect in your state, contact your state or EPA regional office. Additional information regarding this requirement as well as the federal paper form can be found here.

More on The Waste Generator Improvements Rule 

The HWGIR focuses on generators of hazardous waste; all three categories of hazardous waste generator will be affected.  All generators of hazardous waste will be required to review their waste streams to make an “accurate” waste determination to identify if their wastes are characteristically hazardous or falls in one of the listed categories of waste.  

There will remain three categories of generators and the quantities qualifying generators into these categories remain the same:  Large Quantity Generator (LQG), Small Quantity Generator (SQG), and Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG), which replaces the former term Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG).  A generator must determine which category they belong to based on the amount of waste generated in a calendar month, the amounts do not differ from prior regulations.  The proposed rule reorganizes these regulations and makes them easier to find and follow.

The section of regulations pertaining to a generator making hazardous waste determinations was expanded and revised.  Emphasis was placed on the generator accurately determining if their solid waste is also a hazardous waste. SQGs and LQGs must document and maintain records of such determinations. These records must be kept for 3 years from the date the waste was last generated.

Under the HWGIR, SQGs and LQGs can accumulate as much as 55 gallons of non-acute hazardous waste and/or one quart of acute hazardous waste at or near the point of generation.  The addition of “and/” is new and significant.  The rules for container requirements did not change (closed, compatible with waste inside, in good condition) however additional requirements were added about incompatible wastes.  Incompatible waste cannot be collected in the same container or in a container that previously held an incompatible waste or material, unless there is no chance of a reaction. 

A container in an SAA must still be marked with the words “Hazardous Waste” but additional requirements were added.  A container must also be marked with other words that provide an indication of the hazards of the contents; the waste characteristic, DOT labels and OSHA pictograms are given as examples. 

Wastes that reach the accumulation amount limits in a SAA must be moved within three consecutive days of reaching their limit (and be marked with the date it reached the limit).

The term “Central Accumulation Area” or “CAA” was defined in the HWGIR; this area was previously noted as the 90- or 180-day accumulation area.  Currently, both SQGs and LQGs are to inspect this area weekly.  The indication of hazard labeling and marking noted above in the SAA section will also be required in the CAA.  

A VSQG and SQG can take advantage of a new subpart, subpart L, to manage wastes in excess of their monthly generation limits without becoming subject to waste generation rules for a higher generation category.  Only one episodic event is allowed per year, but a generator can petition the EPA for one additional event per year if that event is unplanned.

In order to comply, the generator must have an EPA ID number. At least 30 days prior to the event (or within 72 hours in the case of an unplanned emergency), the generator must notify EPA of the event.  Waste can be collected in containers that must be in good condition, kept closed except to add or remove waste, and are compatible with the contents.  Containers must also be marked with the words “Episodic Hazardous Waste”, an indication of hazards of the contents (ie. Waste characteristic, OSHA pictograms, DOT labels) and the date the event began. 

The generator has 60 days to complete the episodic event, unless an extension is granted.  Records of the event must kept for 3 years and include the following: beginning and end dates of the event, a description of the event, types and quantities of waste generated, a description of how the waste was managed and name of the facility that received it, name of the transporter, hazardous waste manifests and approval letters for the event from EPA.

Before transporting or offering a container for transport, an SQG or LQG must mark each container with all applicable waste codes.  Generators can also use a nationally recognized electronic system such as bar coding to identify the EPA hazardous waste codes.  Lab packs remain as they are required to be managed today.

The proposed rule requires both SQGs and LQGs to re-notify the EPA of their hazardous waste activities..  An SQG must re-notify starting in 2021 and then every four (4) years thereafter.  LQGs must do so by March 1 of even-numbered years as part of their biennial report.  This is done using form 8700-12, which has been revised to add this additional notification section and can be submitted as part of the Biennial Report.

New LQGs must have a quick reference guide for emergency responders.  The SAA and CAA must be included as part of the emergency procedures.  While LQGs must follow Subpart M – Preparedness, Prevention and Emergency Procedures, SQGs are not required to develop plans (there are still some emergency procedures that must be followed).

An LQG must notify the EPA 30 days prior to closing a unit, or place a note in their facility operating record; this also applies to the CAA but not SAAs.  If the generator is closing the site, they must notify EPA within 90 days of completing the closure.  Closure as a landfill is required if the facility fails to clean close.

The HWGIR allows a VSQG to ship their hazardous waste to an LQG that is under the control of the same person.  VSQGs are generally not required to label their containers, but would need to comply with stricter labeling requirements when shipping waste to an LQG location.  The LQG would need to notify the EPA 30 days prior to receiving the shipment via the 8700-12 form.  The containers received must be labeled with the date they were received, the 90-day accumulation limit clock starts on this day.  Records of shipments received including name, address and contact information for the VSQG, quantities and types received from VSQG must be kept by the LQG for 3 years.  While no manifests are required when a VSQG ships to a LQG, the LQG are required to manage the waste as part of their waste stream and have all appropriate information prior to shipping off site for disposal.

Additional information regarding hazardous waste generation and applicable regulations can be found at www.epa.gov/hwgenerators.

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