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Waste Identification

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Universal Wastes are wastes that do meet the regulatory definition of hazardous waste, but are managed under special, tailored regulations.

The Unit Cost Compendium calculates the cost of the impact to RCRA regulations if a cleanup needs to occur.

Definition of Solid Waste

The Off-Site Rule

Saccharin Rule

Key Documents

RCRA Orientation Manual: Hazardous Waste Identification (PDF) (28 pp, 315K, about PDF)

Definition of Solid Waste Identification and Hazardous Waste Recycling (PDF) (23 pp, 69K, about PDF)

Solid and Hazardous Waste Exclusions (PDF) (29 pp, 87K, about PDF)

Hazardous Waste Identification (PDF) (30 pp, 437K, about PDF)

RCRA Hazardous Waste Delisting: The First 20 Years (PDF) (32 pp, 112K, about PDF)

Scoping Study (PDF) (278 pp, 1.3MB, about PDF)

Solvents Study (PDF) (52 pp, 545K, about PDF)

The hazardous waste identification (HWID) process is the crucial first step in the hazardous waste management system. Correctly determining whether a waste meets the RCRA definition of hazardous waste is essential to determining how the waste must be managed. The waste generator has responsibility for determining if a waste is a RCRA hazardous waste. (See: 40 CFR 262.11)

The HWID process consists of four questions:

  1. Is the material a solid waste? (See: 40 CFR Part 261.2)
  2. Is the waste specifically excluded from RCRA? (See: 40 CFR Part 261.4)
  3. Is the waste a listed hazardous waste? (See: 40 CFR Part 261.30)
  4. Does the waste exhibit a characteristic of hazardous waste? (See: 40 CFR Part 261.20)


RCRA provides a process to remove, or “delist,” a waste generated at a facility from the list of hazardous wastes. This delisting process is initiated by the generator (the person who creates the waste) who prepares a petition for delisting the waste. These regulations are codified in 40 CFR 260.22.

For more information about the national Hazardous Waste Delisting Program, visit RCRA Hazardous Waste Delisting: The First 20 Years.

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Hazardous Waste Identification and Characterization Studies

Hazardous Waste Characterization Scoping Study
EPA conducted this study under a consent agreement with the Environmental Defense Fund (now Environmental Defense) to investigate if there are gaps in coverage in the existing hazardous waste characteristics under RCRA, and the nature and extent of such gaps. The study presents EPA’s methodology for identifying potential gaps, as well as, the results of the analyses conducted. (November 1996)

Hazardous Waste Identification Studies – Solvents and Selected Petroleum Refining Residuals
EPA conducted these studies under a consent agreement with the Environmental Defense Fund (now Environmental Defense). The first study discusses the wastes associated with the use of certain materials as solvents (including diethylamine, aniline, ethylene oxide, allyl chloride, 1,4-dioxane, 1,1-dichloroethylene, and bromoform), the toxicity of the wastes, and the management practices for the wastes. The second study was conducted to determine whether to list, as hazardous, a number of different waste residuals generated by the petroleum refining industry. (August 1996)

Report to Congress on RCRA Hazardous Waste Identification of Methamphetamine Production Process By-products (PDF) (22 pp, 271K, about PDF)
This Report to Congress examines whether any of the by-products from the methamphetamine (meth) production process could be a hazardous waste under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The report identifies a list of of by-products that would likely meet the hazardous waste requirements of the regulatory definition of solid waste.

EPA prepared this report to comply with the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005.

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Laws & Regulations

EPA has promulgated a number of laws & regulations relating to Hazardous Waste Identification.

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