Hazardous Waste in Idaho
What is Hazardous Waste?
Hazardous waste has properties that make it dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, contained gases, or sludges. They can be the by-products of manufacturing processes or simply discarded commercial products, such as cleaning fluids or pesticides. By law, facilities that generate waste must determine if any of their wastes are hazardous.
Types of Hazardous Waste
There are two types of hazardous waste:
Hazardous wastes that exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:
- Ignitable. These wastes easily catch fire when exposed to heat. If the waste has a flash point below 140°F, it must be managed as a hazardous waste. This information is available on Material Safety Data Sheets and from product suppliers.
- Corrosive/caustic. These waste products can burn or damage living tissue on contact. Corrosivity is determined by properties outlined in 40 CFR.261.22. Testing methods are explained in EPA publication SW-846, Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, Physical/Chemical Methods.
- Toxic/poisonous. Such wastes can cause injury or death if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin or eyes. If the material contains any organic or inorganic chemicals in excess of the concentrations listed under
40 CFR 261.24, it must be managed as a hazardous waste.
- Reactive. Reactive wastes are unstable, react violently or explode, and/or give off toxic gases.
Hazardous wastes that appear on any of four specific lists issued by EPA. Some of these wastes, such as some pesticides that can be fatal to humans in small doses, are so dangerous that they are called acute hazardous wastes.
Regulation of Hazardous Waste
Hazardous waste is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle C. Businesses and other facilities in Idaho are required to comply with hazardous waste regulations prescribed in the state's Rules and Standards for Hazardous Waste (IDAPA 58.01.05). First and foremost, a business must determine if any of the wastes it generates are hazardous.
If a business determines that it generates hazardous waste, the business must do the following:
- Identify the types of hazardous waste it generates.
- Comply with storage quantity and time limit requirements.
- Determine its generator status based on the amount of waste generated in a given month (this can change monthly).
- Appropriately treat or dispose of the waste (options are based on generator status).
DEQ ensures compliance by inspecting businesses that generate hazardous waste and, if necessary, taking enforcement action if a business fails to comply with regulations. DEQ also assists businesses in complying with regulations through education and outreach.
Certain businesses and facilities that treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste, especially waste generated by others, are required to hold permits to do so. DEQ issues and oversees these permits and ensures the facilities meet all applicable laws and that the facilities comply with permit conditions.
How to Determine Your Generator Status
Hazardous waste generators are regulated according to the amount of waste they generate in a calendar month. Based on volume, hazardous waste generators are classified into one of three statuses: very small quantity generator, small quantity generator, or large quantity generator. Regulatory requirements vary based on generator status. Find out how to calculate how much hazardous waste you generate and how to determine generator status of your business here.
How to Obtain an EPA Identification Number
All businesses that generate more than 220 pounds of hazardous waste or 2.2 pounds of acutely hazardous waste in a calendar month are required to obtain an identification number. A very small quantity generator who wants to take advantage of the episodic generator provisions in 40 CFR Part 262 Subpart L must also obtain an identification number. Learn more.
Hazardous Waste Reporting
Generators of hazardous waste in the state are required to report annually to DEQ on the types and quantities of hazardous wastes generated, shipped for treatment and disposal, and remaining in storage, and whether hazardous wastes they generate will be disposed of or treated in Idaho or out of state. Learn more and access annual reports here.
Some hazardous wastes are so common that they are referred to as universal wastes and include batteries, some pesticides, thermostats, and spent lamps. The Universal Waste Rule (40 CFR 273) allows universal wastes to be managed under streamlined requirements. The rule is designed to encourage recycling and proper disposal of some common hazardous wastes and to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses that generate these wastes. Learn more.
Mercury and Its Impacts
Mercury is a naturally occurring metallic element that is found in trace amounts in air, water, and soil. It comes in three forms—elemental, inorganic, and organic. All forms of mercury are poisonous to humans. The severity of effects depends largely on the amount and timing of exposure. Learn more.
Electronic waste, or e-waste as it is commonly referred to, is unwanted, obsolete, or unusable electronic products such as computers and computer peripherals, televisions, VCRs, DVD players, stereo equipment, and hand-held cell phones. Management and disposal of e-waste has become a serious problem among states nationwide, including Idaho. Learn why and how to properly dispose of e-waste here.
Some pharmaceuticals, such as prescription or over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and liquid nicotine, are hazardous when wastes and must be disposed of properly. Effective August 21, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prohibits disposing of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals by flushing them down the drain. The ban on sewering these wastes will mainly impact healthcare facilities, retailers, and reverse distributors. Learn more about managing pharmaceutical waste here.
Sump waste is the mixture of dirt, grime, and grit that accumulates in a sump. Sump waste is considered solid waste and may be hazardous, depending on its content. Learn more.
Like all hazardous wastes, spent solvents must be tracked and properly disposed of. Examples of spent solvents include mineral spirits, chlorinated solvent, paint-related waste, and alcohol that is no longer useful. Is your spent solvent hazardous? How should you dispose of spent solvent? Find out and learn about alternative cleaning solvents and processes here.
Household Hazardous Waste
Most hazardous waste is generated by businesses and industry, but Americans generate 1.6 million tons of household hazardous waste each year as well. Common household hazardous wastes include paints and stains, cleaners, batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and pharmaceuticals. Improperly disposing of hazardous wastes is harmful to the environment. Learn how to identify whether a product is hazardous and how to properly dispose of hazardous products here.
Used oil is any oil that has been refined from crude or synthetic oil and has been used as a lubricant, electrical insulation oil, hydraulic fluid, heat transfer oil, brake fluid, refrigeration oil, grease, or machine cutting oil. Generators of used oil are required to properly store this commodity, label containers, keep storage tanks and containers in good condition, clean up any spills or releases, and use a valid transporter to ship used oil off site. Used oil that is being recycled in accordance with the applicable provisions of 40 CFR Part 279 IS NOT regulated as hazardous waste and should not be included in annual and/or biennial reports submitted to DEQ. Learn more.