Managing Hazardous Waste

We strengthen regulations and streamline waste management


What is a Generator?

A generator is any person, by site, whose act or process produces hazardous waste identified or listed in Chapter 11 of the hazardous waste regulations or whose act first causes a hazardous waste to become subject to regulation.

When determining if the generator regulations (Chapter 12 – Standards Applicable to Generators of Hazardous Waste) apply to you, there are 3 important terms used in the definition to consider:

  • “person” (defined in regulation) includes any entity involved in the process of producing a hazardous waste (e.g., an individual, trust, firm, joint stock company, business concern, corporation, a city or county)
  • “by site” (not defined in regulation) refers to where the hazardous waste is generated. Hazardous waste generation is tracked on a site-specific basis through unique EPA Identification (ID) numbers. Hazardous waste generation should be evaluated collectively on a single piece of property for any activities occurring under the control of the owner or operator. For example, if a company has three facilities operating on the same piece of property, only one EPA ID number is required. However, if a company has three facilities operating on separate non-contiguous properties, then three separate and distinct EPA ID numbers must be used.
  • “act” (not defined in regulation) clarifies that to be a generator, a “person” does not necessarily have to produce the hazardous waste. For example, if a cleaning service removes residues from a product storage tank excluded in §66261.4(c), the person removing the residues is a generator, as they cause the waste to become subject to regulation. But the owner of the storage tank is also considered the generator, since they produced the waste. By mutual agreement, these two parties may determine who is responsible for the hazardous waste. For more information, see Federal Register 10/30/1980, Part XI and RCRA Online #13280.

Generators are responsible for properly characterizing (or identifying) all their hazardous wastes. The steps set forth to make such a determination are found in section 66262.11. Once a generator determines their waste meets the definition of a hazardous waste, the requirements that apply to them depends on the amount (or volume) generated. The Defining Hazardous Waste web page provides a good introduction to understanding how to make determinations on your waste.

In addition, free California Hazardous Waste Classification online training is available.

Generator Classification

In California, generators are divided into 2 categories:

  • Generators of 1,000 kg or more of hazardous waste per month, excluding universal wastes, and/or more than 1 kg of acutely or extremely hazardous per month (commonly referred to as Large Quantity Generators (LQGs)), or
  • Generators of less than 1,000 kg of hazardous waste per month, excluding universal wastes, and/or 1kg or less of acutely or extremely hazardous waste per month (defined as Small Quantity Generators (SQGs)).

If you have P-Listed hazardous waste, please read this 12/24/2015 letter regarding P-listed hazardous waste containers at California Healthcare Facilities.

Each type of generator must comply with its own set of requirements. For more information please see the Generator chart.

Does California have a conditional exemption for smaller quantity generators (i.e., generators of 100 kg or less of hazardous waste)?

No. California did not adopt the conditional exemption for smaller quantity generators in 40 CFR 261.5 including the counting requirements found in that section. Therefore, in California generators of 100 kg or less of hazardous waste per month are regulated as SQGs and not Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs) as they would be under the federal hazardous waste management program.

Generators that periodically fall above or below their normal generation limit

If the amount of hazardous waste produced in a calendar month puts a generator in a different category, then they are responsible for complying with the applicable standards for that category of generator for that month (e.g., if a generator produces 500 kg of hazardous in June, they must comply with the SQG requirements but if they produce 1,200 kg of hazardous waste in the next month they must follow the LQG requirements). Generators who change status should consult with their CUPA.

Counting Waste

A generator must count (i.e. must add up, or total) the entire quantity of hazardous waste is generates in a month, pursuant to section 66262.34 of Title 22, to determine their generator status for that month. Generally, most hazardous wastes are counted, however some are not.

The following are some examples of hazardous wastes that count towards generator status:

Type of Hazardous WasteYesNo
Pharmaceutical Wastes Regulated Under RCRAX
Non-Empty ContainersX
Used Oil sent for RecyclingX
Treated Wood WasteX
Paint (Appendix X)X
PCB Waste (≥ 5ppm for liquids; ≥50 ppm for solids)X

The following are examples of hazardous wastes that DO NOT count towards generator status:

Type of Hazardous WasteYesNo
Universal Wastesx

NOTE: This page reflects changes made by SB 612, which became effective 01/01/2016. DTSC developed regulatory changes to comply with SB 612. For more information, view the Universal Waste Regulations & Generator Status (SB 612) web page.

What is the status of the EPA Final Rule for Hazardous Waste Generators?

“The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) published its final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule on November 28, 2016, in the Federal Register (81 Fed. Reg. 85732–85829). The rule makes a number of changes to regulations relating to hazardous waste generators by, according to U.S. EPA, “making them easier to understand and providing greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed to better fit today’s business operations.”

In 1992 DTSC received authorization from the U.S. EPA to implement the Resources Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA), Subtitle C requirements and the associated regulations. To maintain its authorization from USEPA and in order to comply with RCRA, as an authorized program, DTSC is required to adopt federal regulations that are more stringent than the current federal RCRA regulations (considered mandatory rules).

According to U.S. EPA, some portions of the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule are more stringent and must be adopted by authorized states.In addition to plans to adopt the mandatory portions, DTSC is reviewing the rule to determine whether it intends to adopt other “optional” portions of the rule as well.

The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule becomes effective on May 30, 2017. However, because California is an authorized state the GIR does not take effect in California until DTSC adopts the rule, or parts thereof, via the rulemaking process. Please check our Generator Improvements Rule web page for more information and updates on DTSC’s rulemaking plans. (Reference: CA Health & Safety Code Sections 25159, 25159.1, 25159.5.) Go to the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule page on the Federal Register website to view the US EPA’s Final Rule.

Where can I find the webinar presentation on adopting US EPA’s Generator Improvement Rule in California?

Although the webinar was not recorded, the presentation slides are available to download in a PDF version by clicking here.

For Additional Questions, Contact the Regulatory Assistance Office

Toll-Free in CA: 800-728-6942 or 800 72-TOXIC
Outside CA: 916-324-2439