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Business Identification of Hazardous Waste is Essential

If you don’t know whether your business generates a hazardous waste, or if you are not managing hazardous wastes properly, you could be in violation of federal/state laws and rules. All wastes generated from a business must be evaluated to determine if the waste is a hazardous waste. If you have a hazardous waste, Ohio has specific rules on how to handle and dispose of it. Ohio EPA’s fact sheet Identifying Your Hazardous Waste can help you with this process.

Any material a business no longer uses is considered a waste. Hazardous waste may be either a listed waste (specific lists published in both U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA rules) or it may exhibit one or more hazardous characteristic(s).

Listed wastes are identified in both federal and state rules. Listed wastes include:

  • F-listed wastes are from general processes such as cleaning, degreasing, metal finishing and manufacturing;
  • K-listed wastes are from specific industrial processes such as chemical and pesticide manufacturing, petroleum refining and metal manufacturing; and
  • U- and P-listed wastes are from unused, off-specification or discarded commercial chemicals.

Characteristic hazardous waste, or D wastes, include wastes that exhibit characteristic that make them hazardous. These characteristics include:

  • Ignitability — where the waste has a flashpoint less than 140OF;
  • Corrosivity — where the waste has the ability to corrode metals and has a pH less than or equal to 2, or greater than or equal to 12.5;
  • Reactivity — where the waste is unstable, reacts violently, explodes or produces toxic vapors under certain conditions; or
  • Toxicity — where the waste has specific toxic contaminants present in concentrations to be harmful to humans and/or the environment.

To identify your hazardous waste:

  1. Examine all of your processes;
  2. Make a list of all your wastes, even those you think are not hazardous; then
  3. Carefully evaluate each waste stream.

When evaluating waste, you can send your waste to a laboratory for testing, use generator knowledge and use vendor-supplied information like Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Ohio EPA’s Use of Generator Knowledge in Hazardous Waste Evaluation fact sheet may help you. Note, that with few exceptions, any waste that is mixed with or derived from a listed hazardous waste (F, K, P or U lists) is also considered a listed hazardous waste. Examples include mixing an F-listed solvent with nonhazardous materials, and deriving distillation bottoms from reclaiming an F-listed solvent.

Read more about properly identifying and managing your hazardous waste in Ohio EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generator Handbook. Small businesses can also contact the Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) at (614) 644-3469 or (800) 329-7518 for free help. OCAPP is a non-regulatory office within the Ohio EPA that helps small businesses understand and comply with environmental requirements.


Some common hazardous wastes are:

  • Spent cleaning or degreasing solvents [for example, xylene, acetone, MEK (methyl ethyl ketone), toluene, benzene, methanol], still bottoms;
  • Old paint, paint booth filters;
  • Mineral spirits or stoddard solvent, solvent wipers;
  • Fluorescent bulbs containing mercury;
  • Dry cleaning waste and filters;
  • Printing wastes, lab chemicals, metal plating wastes and amalgam.