Keep These 5 Wastes Out of Your Trash in California

Posted on 4/3/2018 by Roger Marks

Dumpster_335648345.jpgIn early 2018, two California businesses faced multi-million dollar enforcement actions for hazardous waste violations. In both cases, investigators found regulated wastes improperly thrown out in the facilities’ garbage cans. 
Hazardous waste violations occur every day – often because employees don’t recognize what trash is regulated hazardous waste. If regulators employ the “dumpster diving” investigative method in your state—like DTSC does in California—read on and discover 5 everyday items that could cost your business millions!
In April: Get your annual DTSC hazardous waste training and master California’s unique, exacting  Title 22 and Health and Safety Code waste rules.. The California Hazardous Waste Management Workshop comes to San Diego on April 9—10, Ontario on April 12—13, San Jose on April 16—17, and Sacramento on April 19—20.

Aerosol cans

aerosols-from-top.jpgUsed aerosol cans may exhibit characteristics of a hazardous waste and otherwise may be regulated as reactive waste due to compressed gas or a flammable propellant. When either is the case, they must be properly stored, labeled, and managed as hazardous waste. 
Even if an aerosol can is “empty,” it may not really be empty. Both Federal RCRA regulations and California State rules have a very specific definition of “empty.” Shaking the can a few times is not a sufficient test of emptiness when it comes to hazardous waste compliance.  
US EPA recently proposed adding hazardous waste aerosol cans to the Federal RCRA Universal Waste program.  California already regulates aerosol cans as universal waste.
In California, DTSC allows generators to puncture or crush aerosol cans on site. When aerosol cans are crushed, the container becomes scrap metal and the captured residue or product must be stored properly and managed as hazardous waste if necessary.

Used oil filters 

Oil_filters_410525473.jpgSome oil filters are excluded from regulation as hazardous waste [40 CFR 261.4(b)(13)] -- but only when they are drained and managed in certain ways.
While Federal RCRA regulations allow generators to manage used oil under relaxed rules, California regulates used oil as a hazardous waste.  Un-drained filters ending up in your garbage can result in hazardous waste enforcement, with fines up to and including $70,000 per day, per violation. Outside of California, oil filters that are not properly drained would not meet the Federal exclusion above and may also be considered hazardous waste.
For more on managing, draining, or disposing of used oil filters in California, see 22 CCR 66266.130.
Can’t join us for the live California Hazardous Waste Workshop? Train anytime, anywhere with convenient, effective initial and refresher Title 22 online courses.  

“Empty” cleaning products and solvents 

commercial_products_colored.pngThere’s that word “empty” again. California regulates certain industrial cleaners and solvents as hazardous waste, even in small amounts at the bottom of a container.

Do your employees really know what “empty” really means in the context of hazardous waste disposal? In California, a container is empty only when “all pourable wastes no longer pour when the container is inverted and all non-pourable wastes are scraped or otherwise removed.” [22 CCR 66261.7] 
The Federal RCRA definition of “empty,” found at 40 CFR 261.7, is a bit less stringent, but not much. 
An employee without the right training or knowledge may think an empty container is one that contains a less-than-usable amount of product. Throwing out containers that still hold liquid or residue, even just a drip, is a hazardous waste violation.


damaged_battery_29251630.JPGWhile some batteries may be OK to trash, some are regulated and should not be disposed of with regular solid wastes. Batteries that contain substances like lead acid, sodium, mercury, or potassium are typically regulated as hazardous waste under various Federal and State rules.
Even though “household” batteries like your AAs and AAAs are not regulated as a hazardous waste (even in California),  most local landfills prefer to divert even small batteries to be recycled.


Fluorescent_Lamps_Universal_Waste_Closing_Box_2.jpgDue to mercury content, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) pose hazards to human health and the environment. Because these lamps are everywhere, regulating them as hazardous waste would pose an undue burden on businesses and governments. Instead—under both Federal and California rules—CFLs must be managed as universal waste.
So, while a broken fluorescent bulb may look like trash, it shouldn’t be treated that way.

Title 22 Hazardous Waste Training

Meet DTSC's annual hazardous waste training mandate and earn points toward your IHMM, ABIH, NEHA, or REHS credentials. The California Hazardous Waste Management Workshop returns to the Golden State in April, with stops in San Diego, Ontario, San Jose, and Sacramento.


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