What Are the 4 Types of Hazardous Waste?

In 2013, failure to make a hazardous waste determination cost Wal-Mart $110 million in penalities. If you create hazardous waste and you’re unfamiliar with the different types, then it’s possible that your company, business or organization may be in serious trouble.

Knowing the different categories can help keep your company as safe and environmentally-conscious as possible. If you fail to dispose and handle dangerous wastes properly, you will be held accountable and it can oftentimes be very costly.

In order for a company, business or organization to manage and dispose of waste properly, they need to know the major classifying types.

In this post, we’ll go over what exactly hazardous waste is, the four main types, how they are classified, examples of each and why it’s necessary to enlist the services of a certified laboratory.

What is Hazardous Waste?

Hazardous waste is defined as any substance or material that can have harmful effects on the health of people and the environment.

Typically produced by manufacturers and other industrial organizations, hazardous waste has been identified by the EPA as containing elements and properties that can produce potentially detrimental effects.

With that being said, there are very specific protocols to undertake when a waste is identified as hazardous. In determining how to properly treat the waste that has been produced, it’s important to be able to identify what classifications that hazardous waste falls into.

The Four Classifications of Hazardous Waste

Hazardous wastes often vary from one another. The EPA has identified four main categories in which hazardous wastes can be classified. With each categorization comes different risks and disposal methods. When left inappropriately treated or managed, these wastes can have very harmful effects on the environment. That is why it is necessary to understand the main classification categories of each. The four identifiable classifications are listed wastes, characteristic wastes, universal wastes and mixed wastes.

Listed Wastes

When it comes to listed wastes, there are four sub-types of listed wastes. Among these are wastes that fall into the F-list, K-list, P-list and the U-list.

F-List Wastes

Simply put, the F-list includes any wastes that have a nonspecific source, but are produced from manufacturing and industrial processes. Because they can be generated in various sectors of industry and manufacturing, their ultimate source becomes nonspecific.

Of the F-list wastes, depending on the operations that produce the wastes, they can be divided into seven groups. These source identification groups are as follows:

  1. Dioxin-bearing wastes
  2. Wood-preserving wastes
  3. Spent solvent wastes
  4. Petroleum refinery wastewater treatment sludges
  5. Chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons production
  6. Multisource leachate
  7. Electroplating and other metal finishing wastes

K-List Wastes

Unlike F-list wastes, K-list wastes are specific wastes that have specific industry sources. Particular production and treatment processes generate certain types of wastewater and sludge that become distinguishable as hazardous wastes.

Since their sources are specific, they are classified as source-specific hazardous wastes. The top 13 industries that generate K-lists are seen below:

  1. Iron and steel production
  2. Petroleum refining
  3. Inorganic pigment manufacturing
  4. Explosives manufacturing
  5. Ink formulation
  6. Veterinary pharmaceuticals manufacturing
  7. Primary aluminum production
  8. Organic chemicals manufacturing
  9. Pesticides manufacturing
  10. Coking (processing of coal to produce coke)
  11. Inorganic chemicals manufacturing
  12. Wood preservation
  13. Secondary lead processing

For both F-lists and K-lists, these wastes are identified by an EPA-assigned code. They characterize the wastes depending on if they contain any of the following codes: Toxic Waste (T), Acute Hazardous Waste (H), Ignitable Waste (I), Corrosive Waste (C ), Reactive Waste (R ), Toxicity Characteristic Waste (E).

P-List & U-List Wastes

P-list and U-list wastes are specific commercial chemical products that are disposed of, but unused. To be considered as one of these wastes, they must meet certain criteria and be commercial grade formulations of specific unused chemicals.

Wastes must be discarded and unused to meet the following criteria to be considered P-list or U-list wastes:

  • It must contain one of the chemicals identified in the P or U list
  • The waste’s chemical must be unused
  • The waste must be in a commercial chemical product form

Characteristic Wastes

Unlike listed wastes, these characteristic wastes follow the identification process depending on the characteristics they display. Below are the four characteristics that are identified with wastes.

1. Ignitability

  • Any waste that is flammable and can create fires.
  • Examples of this include liquids with flashpoints below 140 °F, nonliquids with the potential to ignite via specific conditions and compressed gases.

2. Corrosivity

  • Any waste (typically acids and bases) that can rust and decompose and has the ability to melt through steel materials.
  • Examples of this include aqueous wastes with an acidity level of equal to or less than 2 pH or equal to or greater than 12.5 pH.

3. Reactivity

  • Any waste that is explosive, unstable under normal conditions.
  • Examples of this include any waste capable of explosion and detonation that may produce toxic gases.

4. Toxicity

  • Any waste that is fatally poisonous when ingested or absorbed.
  • Examples of this include lithium-sulfur batteries and other materials that can cause death when swallowed.

There are tests available through certified laboratories that will determine the characteristic traits of wastes to deem the type of hazardous waste that it is. In order to properly manage wastes, you must consult with an accredited laboratory like EHS.

Universal Wastes

Also known as commonly-generated, universal wastes are another classification for hazardous wastes. These types of wastes typically include bulbs, mercury-containing equipment, pesticides and batteries. These wastes are of the more commonly produced and identified oftentimes as “dangerous goods”. There are 9 classifications with these wastes listed below:

  1. Class 1: Explosives
  2. Class 2: Gases
  3. Class 3: Flammable Liquids
  4. Class 4: Flammable Solids or Substances
  5. Class 5: Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides
  6. Class 6: Toxic and Infectious Substances
  7. Class 7: Radioactive
  8. Class 8: Corrosive Substances
  9. Class 9: Miscellaneous Dangerous Substances and Articles

Mixed Wastes

Lastly, mixed wastes are wastes that contain both hazardous as well as radioactive components. Because mixed wastes involve hazardous and radioactive materials, their treatment and disposals vary.

Mixed wastes are identified as one of three types of mixed waste according to the US DOE. They can be low-level mixed waste (LLMW), high-level mixed waste (HLW) and mixed transuranic waste (MTRU).

It’s important to know the proper disposal methods if your company or organization is producing wastes that are deemed hazardous.

Now that you know all of the types of wastes, their categorizations/classifications and examples of each, be sure you’re treating their removal properly. If you need analytical testing services done to determine the levels of hazardousness of your wastes, then get in touch with Environmental Hazards Services.

With years of experience, we are ready to help provide immediate and accurate results. Get in touch with us today!