Don't Get Creative with RCRA Waste Markings

Posted on 6/17/2022 by Roger Marks

Recently in Texas, an oil refinery was penalized for a handful of alleged hazardous waste violations. One violation that stands out as especially avoidable concerns the wording used on a container holding universal waste.

Texas allows facilities to manage paint and paint-related wastes as universal waste. Like the Federal RCRA regulations, Texas state rules require marking of containers used to store universal waste. Containers must be marked with specific words. 
In Texas, containers holding universal waste paint and paint-related waste must read:
“Universal Waste - Paint and Paint-Related Wastes”
[30 TAC 335.262(c)(2)(F)]

The following words appeared on the generator’s container, resulting in a violation:
X “Universal Waste - Paint and Paint Waste”

Many would agree that mis-wording the container marking is about as small a violation as there is. But it’s an easy one for an inspector to write up: The regulations require specific words. The generator did not use those specific words. It’s as simple as that.

In Texas, the base penalty for a violation like this is $25,000. In this case, the penalty was reduced by 99% because the violation was so minor. The generator quickly corrected the error.

Additional violations contributed to a larger overall penalty assessment in this case. But imagine if this minor container marking mistake were the only violation on an otherwise perfect inspection. That would sting!


Tips for Training Hazardous Waste Personnel 

Hazardous waste personnel must be trained to perform their jobs in compliance with the RCRA regulations. For employees who will mark universal wastes, that training must include direction on exactly how to mark those wastes.

That training should stress that exact wording is required, and that straying from that wording could result in a costly violation. In addition, periodically checking that these markings are being applied correctly is a good best practice to ensure consistency. 

Secondly, while US EPA provides multiple options for some universal waste markings in 40 CFR 273.14, it can be beneficial to choose one (and only one) to use within the facility for each type of universal waste stored.  

Consider this example. When marking universal waste pesticides, “Universal Waste-Pesticides” and “Waste-Pesticides” are both permitted per 40 CFR 273.14(b)(2) and (c)(2). It is not a violation to use either/or on any given waste or container. 

But if different employees or departments in your organization use different markings, it may cause confusion. If half the waste is marked with “Universal Waste-Pesticides” and the other half with “Waste-Pesticides,” personnel may not recognize that these two statements mean the same thing. This can easily lead to mismanagement and inefficiency.

Lastly, giving personnel multiple choices for marking universal waste may create the mistaken impression that any variation of the required text will be good enough.

Be Exact, Be Consistent

Improperly worded markings are completely and totally avoidable. When you mark a container of universal waste, use the exact words found in the regulation. Don’t write your markings from memory, and don’t get creative. When in doubt—look it up.

The RCRA regulations spell out all acceptable markings for universal waste at 40 CFR 273.14. If your state authorizes you to manage additional wastes as universal waste, knowing where to find the marking rules for those wastes is crucial to ensure compliance.

RCRA Training in Dallas and Houston

Master the Federal and unique state regulations you must know to manage hazardous, industrial, and universal waste in Texas. Join an expert Lion instructor for in-person training when these hazardous waste workshops come to Houston and Dallas in July and August.

RCRA and Texas Hazardous & Industrial Waste Management
Dallas July 20—22
Houston August 22—24 

Tags: environmental compliance, hazardous waste management, RCRA, universal waste

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

If I need thorough training or updating, I always use Lion. Lion is always the best in both instruction and materials.

Bryce Parker

EHS Manager

The instructor was probably the best I ever had! He made the class enjoyable, was humorous at times, and very knowledgeable.

Mary Sue Michon

Environmental Administrator

Lion Technology workshops are amazing!! You always learn so much, and the instructors are fantastic.

Dorothy Rurak

Environmental Specialist

Very well structured, comprehensive, and comparable to live training seminars I've participated in previously. I will recommend the online course to other colleagues with training requirement needs.

Neil Luciano

EHS Manager

The instructor was excellent. They knew all of the material without having to read from a notepad or computer.

Gary Hartzell

Warehouse Supervisor

The instructor did an excellent job presenting a very dry subject; keeping everyone interested and making it enjoyable.

Marc Bugg

Hazardous Waste Professional

The instructor took a rather drab set of topics and brought them to life with realistic real-life examples.

Tom Berndt

HSE Coordinator

The course was very well structured and covered the material in a clear, concise manner.

Ian Martinez

Hazmat Shipping Professional

Lion is at the top of the industry in compliance training. Course content and structure are updated frequently to make annual re-training enjoyable. I like that Lion has experts that I can contact for 1 year after the training.

Caroline Froning

Plant Chemist

The instructor created a great learning environment.

Avinash Thummadi

CAD & Environmental Manager

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

This guide will help you identify 25 of the most -cited errors in RCRA training, recordkeeping, hazardous waste ID, container management, universal waste, and laboratories.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.