Available Now: 2023 Schedule of Hazmat & RCRA Training

Question of the Week: Determining Generator Status

Posted on 3/22/2011 by James Griffin

If your facility generates hazardous waste, it’s important to count how much you generate each month. The amount of waste you generate determines your “generator status.” And, generator status decides which rules for waste management and disposal apply to you.  The rules for counting hazardous waste are defined at 40 CFR 261.5(c)-(d).

Since 1986 (51 FR 10175, March 24, 1986), there have been three classes of hazardous waste generator.
  • Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQG) ≤ 100 kg/month; ≤ 1 kg/month acutely hazardous waste [40 CFR 261.5(a)-(j)]
  • Small Quantity Generators (SQG) >100, <1,000 kg/month [40 CFR 262.34(d)]
  • Large Quantity Generators (LQG) ≥1,000 kg/month; >1 kg/month acutely hazardous waste [40 CFR 262.34(a)]
One of the questions we hear frequently is: why are the rules for counting hazardous waste hidden inside the standards for CESQGs (261.5 (a)-(j))?

The answer lies in the deep history of RCRA. When the hazardous waste regulations were first codified in 1980 (51 FR 10175, March 24, 1986), the small quantity generator category did not exist. The EPA estimated that facilities which generated less than 1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste per month represented less than 10% of all hazardous waste. Since the EPA’s enforcement resources at the time were limited, the Agency simply made all facilities under the 1,000 kg threshold conditionally exempt from regulation, and required that those generators follow the waste management standards in 261.5. See 45 FR 76618, November 19, 1980.

Under such a scheme, the only generators who really needed to worry about counting their waste were facilities that knew they were near 1,000 kilograms but had not yet counted waste specifically enough to be sure which side of 1,000 they fell on, or those whose waste generation totals varied from month to month. In 1980 this group was mostly auto-shops and miscellaneous craft trades. Having only two types of generator rules meant that when the Agency started fielding questions about which wastes to count, or not count, 261.5 was the most appropriate place to put them, right along the CESQG standards.

When EPA added the category of Small Quantity Generator in 1985, they decided not to move the counting rules to a more central location, most likely because of how involved such a regulatory action would be. This does cause some confusion for people who are new to the regulations and expect to find the counting rules in a section of their own; it’s also an easily-avoidable mistake once you know where to look.

Tags: hazardous, RCRA, waste

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

The instructor clearly enjoys his job and transmits that enthusiasm. He made a dry subject very interesting and fun.

Teresa Arellanes

EHS Manager

I chose Lion's online webinar because it is simple, effective, and easily accessible.

Jeremy Bost

Environmental Health & Safety Technician

Having the tutorial buttons for additional information was extremely beneficial.

Sharon Ziemek

EHS Manager

I like the consistency of Lion workshops. The materials are well put together and instructors are top notch!

Kevin Pylka

Permitting, Compliance & Environmental Manager

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 course is well thought out and organized in a way that leads to a clearer understanding of the total training.

David Baily

Hazmat Shipping Professional

I had a positive experience utilizing this educational program. It was very informative, convenient, and rewarding from a career perspective.

John Gratacos

Logistics Manager

I can take what I learned in this workshop and apply it to everyday work and relate it to my activities.

Shane Hersh

Materials Handler

The instructor was great, explaining complex topics in terms that were easily understandable and answering questions clearly and thoroughly.

Brittany Holm

Lab Supervisor

Lion was very extensive. There was a lot of things that were covered that were actually pertaining to what I do and work with. Great Job. I will be coming back in three years!

Tony Petrik

Hazmat Shipping Professional

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Tips to identify and manage universal waste under more-stringent state regulations for generators and universal waste handlers in California.

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.