New Universal Waste Bill Signed in California

Posted on 10/16/2015 by Roger Marks

On October 2, 2015, the Governor of California approved legislation to amend the California Health & Safety Code (HSC). Among the amendments is a very important development for hazardous waste generators in the state.

"Counting Out" Universal Waste

The bill, Senate Bill No. 612, will add a section 25158.1 to the HSC that will allow generators to exclude universal waste when counting the volume of waste generated in a given month. Universal waste, under Federal regulation, includes things like batteries, certain pesticides, mercury-containing equipment, and lamps. California has expanded on the Federal definition of universal waste to include electronic wastes like Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs), CRT glass, and aerosol cans.

Officially excluding universal waste from the hazardous waste counting rules is a welcome rulemaking for California's hazardous waste generator sites. In recent years, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the division of Cal/EPA that sets and enforces hazardous waste regulations in the state, required generators to count universal waste toward generator status.

Universal Waste and "Generator Status"Common Universal Wastes include e-waste in california

Any site that generates 1,000 or more kilograms of hazardous waste in a calendar month is a "large quantity generator," or LQG. Because they generate the largest volumes of hazardous waste, LQGs must comply with the most stringent set of rules for hazardous waste storage, management, and disposal. With universal waste excluded, some of these sites could fall below the 1,000 kg threshold, escaping certain compliance requirements.

Cal/EPA announced the change to the State hazardous waste laws in the October 2015 Unified Program Newsletter. DTSC must now develop rules by December 1, 2016 to incorporate the new universal waste rules and other elements in Bill No. 612.

Hazardous Materials Business Plans Site Maps

Another amendment in Bill No. 612 will update the requirements for Hazardous Materials Business Plans.

In California, businesses that handle hazardous materials must establish and implement an HM Business Plan to facilitate emergency response in case of a release or threatened release. Bill No. 612 will add a requirement that the site map required as part of a facility's HM Business Plan must include additional map requirements required by the Unified Program Agency (UPA) pursuant to an ordinance.

A knowing violation of the business plan requirement is a crime in California.

Other California Environmental Issues Addressed

Bill No. 612 also addresses other environmental issues in California, including the rules for aboveground storage tanks and medical waste:
  • Excludes from the definition of "aboveground storage tank" a tank or tank facility located on and operated by a farm that is exempt from specified Federal spill prevention, control and countermeasure (SPCC) requirements.
  • Authorizes a larger penalty for violations of medical waste management standards under certain circumstances.
Read the October 2015 Cal EPA Unified Program Newsletter here.

Convenient, Interactive Title 22 Training

Environmental managers in California face some of the most stringent and complex requirements in the nation. The DTSC requires hazardous waste personnel to complete training on the State requirements annually. To help managers and personnel meet this training requirement and build their confidence navigating the web of laws, regulations, and interpretations that drive hazardous waste enforcement in the state, Lion now offers the California Hazardous Waste Management Online Course.

Tags: disposal, DTSC, hazardous waste, recycling, universal waste

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