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.

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.

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.

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”. 

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. 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.

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