Managing Hazardous Waste

We strengthen regulations and streamline waste management

Electroplating Solution Waste Produced in Jewelry Manufacturing Fact Sheet

January 2002*

What is this waste?

Electroplating is used to apply a decorative metal coating to a base metal. Electroplating solutions sometimes become dirty and need to be replaced. These electroplating solutions that can no longer be used are referred to as “spent” electroplating solutions.

Why is this waste considered hazardous?

Spent electroplating solutions are usually corrosive1 and contain dissolved metals such as gold, silver, platinum, rhodium, copper, nickel, zinc, chrome, or other metals. Spent electroplating solutions may also contain cyanide. Waste that is corrosive or contains dissolved metals is generally harmful to human health and the environment, and is therefore considered hazardous2.

Why must this waste be managed safely?

Because this waste is hazardous to human health and the environment, it is important to manage it safely, even if the waste contains precious metals. Current laws and regulations tell you how to manage hazardous waste in order to protect public health and safety, and the environment3. These regula­tions also specify how to recover precious metals from hazardous wastes that contain precious metals. Jewelry manufacturers can protect public health and safety, and avoid costly fines and penalties, by managing their hazardous wastes in compliance with these laws and regulations.

How should I manage this waste?

If your business generates a hazardous waste, it is your responsibility to ensure that waste is properly managed (please see the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) fact sheet on “Hazardous Waste Generator Re­quirements For Jewelry Mart Operators“).

It is unlawful to dump any hazardous waste into the trash or onto the land, or to pour hazardous waste down the sink, into a storm drain, or down the toilet. If you want to treat4: the hazardous waste that you generate, you must get a grant of authori­zation or permit for onsite5 hazardous waste treat­ment. You can contact your local Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) for assistance, or DTSC at (800) 728-­6942.

The CUPA cannot grant you authorization to treat hazardous waste that contains cyanide. If you want to treat any waste that contains cyanide, you should contact DTSC for assistance. For additional information regarding cyanide waste, see the DTSC fact sheet on “Cyanide Waste Produced in Jewelry Manufacturing.”

You must also have a permit from your local waste water treatment facility if you want to dis­charge treated waste to the sewer. Your local CUPA can assist you in complying with the laws and regu­lations governing the discharge of treated waste.

You can also have your spent electroplating so­lutions treated offsite6 by a facility that is permitted to treat the waste. However, it is unlawful to use the United States Postal Service, any common par­cel carrier, or anyone who is not a DTSC ­registered transporter to transport your hazardous waste offsite. For information about transport requirements, please see the DTSC fact sheet, “Hazardous Waste Generator Requirements for Jewelry Mart Operators.”

Can I send my spent electroplating solutions to a company that recovers precious metals?

Yes. However, because spent electroplating so­lutions are hazardous waste, they can only be sent to a permitted facility that is authorized by DTSC to recover precious metals. You must also use a DTSC­ registered transporter to transport the spent electroplating solutions.

Can I reduce the amount of waste that I generate from electroplating?

Yes. The DTSC Office of Pollution Prevention and Technology Development (OPPTD) can help you reduce the amount of hazardous waste you gen­erate. You can contact OPPTD at (800) 700-­5854. For more information, see the DTSC fact sheet on “Jewelry Manufacturing Industry Pollution Preven­tion Recommendations.” By reducing the amount of hazardous waste that you generate from your elec­troplating operations, you may reduce your costs and legal responsibility associated with hazardous waste management and disposal.


1 “Corrosive” is described in California Code of Regulations title 221 section 66261.22.

Cal. Code Regs.,tit.22,div. 4.5,ch.11.

Health & Saf. Code, div.20, ch.6.5,and Cal. Code .Regs.,tit.22,div. 4.5.

4 “Treatment” is any method technique or process which is designed to change the physi­cal chemical or biological character or composition of any hazardous waste or any mate­rial contained there in or removes or reduces its harmful properties or characteristics for any purpose including but not limited to energy recovery material recovery or reduction in volume. (Health & Saf. Code § 25123.5 and Cal. Code Regs. tit. 221 § 66260.10.

5 The term “onsite facility” is summarized for purposes of this fact sheet to mean a hazardous waste facility at which hazardous waste is generated and which is owned by, leased to, or under the control of the generator of the waste. (Health and Saf. Code § 25117.12 and Cal. Code Regs. tit.221 § 66260.10.

6 An “offsite facility” means a hazardous waste facility that is not an onsite facility. (Health & Saf. Code § 25117.11 and Cal. Code Regs. tit. 221 § 66260.10.



This fact sheet does not replace or supersede relevant statutes and regulations. The information contained in this fact sheet is based upon the statutes and regulations in effect as of the date of the fact sheet. Interested parties should keep apprised of subsequent changes to relevant statutes and regulations.