Managing Hazardous Waste

We strengthen regulations and streamline waste management

Trinity CUPA Hazardous Waste Generator and Tiered Permitting Program

Hazardous Waste, when improperly handled or stored, can result in fire, explosion, injury, illness, death, and environmental contamination. State and Federal laws to regulate the storage and handling of hazardous wastes were passed in the 1970’s and a system was set up for tracking the waste from “cradle to grave.” The hazardous waste generator has a responsibility for determining if their waste is hazardous and for the safe handling, transport, and disposal of that waste. Generators who handle hazardous wastes are inspected by the CUPA for compliance with Federal and State hazardous waste storage, and disposal regulations at least once every three years.

Regulatory Authority

Law:  California Health and Safety Code, Chapter 6.5 Hazardous Waste Generator/Tiered Permitting Program, Section 25100-25259

Regulation:  California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Section 66200 et seq

On this page:

Generator of Hazardous Waste

Who is a Generator of Hazardous Waste?

A generator of hazardous waste is any individual, business, or organization who through their activities produces any amount of hazardous waste.

What is Hazardous Waste?

A hazardous waste is any substance that is a waste and threatens human health or the environment. Hazardous waste may be solid, liquid, or sludge. They may be the by-products of manufacturing processes or unwanted commercial products. By definition, a waste may be hazardous if it is specifically listed or it has at least one of these characteristics: ignitable (flammable), corrosive to metal and tissue, reactive, and toxic or damaging to living organisms. For further information read, Defining Hazardous Waste.

Generator Class

Different regulations apply to hazardous waste generators depending on the monthly volume of hazardous waste produced.

Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQG)

CESQGs are those who generate less than 100 KG (220 pounds, 27 gallons) per month. The accumulation start date is when the first 100 Kg of waste has been accumulated. Waste may be stored on site up to 180 days or up to 270 days if the distance to the treatment or disposal facility is more than 200 miles.

Small Quantity Generators (SQG)

SQGs are those who produce more than 100 Kg (220 pounds, 27 gallons) but less than 1000 Kg (2200 pounds, 270 gallons) of waste or less than 1 Kg of acutely hazardous waste per month. The accumulation start date is the date waste is first placed in the accumulation container or tank. Waste may be stored on site up to 180 days or up to 270 days if the distance to the treatment or disposal facility is more than 200 miles.

Large Quantity Generators (LQG)

LQGs are generators who produce more than 1000 Kg (2200 pounds, 270 gallons) per month of all hazardous waste generated on site. The accumulation start date is when the first waste is placed in the accumulation container or tank. There is a 90 day storage time limit.

How to Obtain an EPA Identification Number (EPA ID Number)

An EPA ID number is needed if you generate any amount of regulated hazardous waste and for large quantity universal waste handler’s (handling 5,000 kg or more of universal waste at one time).

Regardless of size, an EPA ID number is necessary for all generators participating in consolidated manifesting, except for generators of less than 100 kg/month of “silver-only” hazardous wastes. For more information, please read DTSC’s fact sheets Consolidated Transporters and Consolidated Manifesting.

California Permanent ID Numbers

Businesses that generate waste on an ongoing basis must have a permanent ID number.  To get a permanent ID number, you need to complete the required application, DTSC Form 1358. There is no fee to obtain a permanent ID number.

California Temporary ID Numbers

Temporary ID numbers (90-day numbers) are issued to people or businesses that do not routinely generate hazardous waste. Visit DTSC’s temporary ID website to obtain a number.

Storage of Hazardous Wastes

The actions described below are designed to minimize the seriousness of a hazardous waste incident, should one occur on your premises. These requirements apply to all generators of hazardous waste with some exceptions. Generators that generate no more than 100 Kg exclusively of silver-only hazardous waste must comply only with the federal Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) requirements. Small Quantity Generators of less than 1000 Kg of hazardous waste per month may, in some cases, store their hazardous waste longer than 90 days.

At a minimum, you will need to ensure that hazardous wastes are:

  • Stored in non-leaking tanks or in containers in good condition with tight-fitting lids.
  • Kept in closed containers when wastes are not being added or removed.
  • Accurately labeled with water-proof labels. Labels must specify the words “Hazardous Waste,” the composition and physical state of the waste, the hazardous properties of the waste (e.g., flammable, reactive, etc.); and the name and address of the generator.
  • Labeled with the date that the waste accumulation began on each tank or container. This date is the date that waste is first placed into the container or tank.
  • Handled in tanks or containers in good repair. These tanks and containers must be regularly inspected for deterioration, damage, or leaks.
  • Managed in a way that minimizes the possibility of spills and escape of waste into the environment.
  • Incompatible waste: not stored in a common storage area without proper separation. Used oil may not be mixed with any other hazardous waste (e.g., solvents).
  • Ignitable or reactive waste stored at least 15 meters (50 feet) from property lines (this only applies to large quantity generators of hazardous waste.) Ignitable waste must be grounded when material is being added or removed. Contact the fire department in your jurisdiction to learn about their local requirements regarding handling of flammable wastes.
  • Stored onsite according to storage time limits prescribed in the regulations. Storage times vary depending on the monthly generation rate of hazardous waste throughout the entire facility. Generators may store hazardous waste onsite for 90 – 180 days depending on the volume of waste produced. In some cases, the wastes may be stored for up to 270 days if the offsite treatment, disposal, or storage facility is more than 200 miles away.

Contact DTSC’s Public and Business Liaison at 1-800-72-TOXIC for complaints. Generators of hazardous waste who exceed the storage maximum must apply for and obtain a treatment, storage and disposal permit from DTSC (714) 484-5300. Additional conditions and requirements apply to those facilities.  

Waste Determination

How Do I Decide if My Waste is a Hazardous Waste?

It is the generator’s responsibility to determine if a waste is a hazardous waste. A waste generator is required to maintain a written hazardous waste determination for each waste that they generate. The waste determination may be based upon the generator’s knowledge of the waste and/or upon analytical test results determined by a certified laboratory using approved procedures. In general, it is helpful to review the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for a product derived waste, as well as, see if the waste is specifically listed in, or meets the characteristics set forth in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations.

How Do I Know if What I Have is a Hazardous Waste?

It must be emphasized that the following is merely a general overview of the subject, and is not a legal definition. The laws and regulations are contained in California Health and Safety Code (HSC), Division 20, Chapter 6.5, and Title 22, California Code of Regulations, Division 4.5 (22CCR), Chapter 11, respectively.

It is the generator’s responsibility to determine correctly whether their waste is hazardous. This can be done by applying professional knowledge to the waste and to the processes generating the waste, or by testing according to the methods contained in 22CCR, Chapter 11. That chapter is titled “Identification and Listing of Hazardous Waste.”

Article 1 begins with Section 66261.1, “Purpose and Scope,” and then continues with extensive definitions of “waste” and “hazardous waste,” and of those materials which are excluded by law from those definitions. It ends with a discussion of management of contaminated containers, including aerosol cans and compressed-gas cylinders in Section 66261.7.

Article 2, consisting of Section 66261.10, lists very briefly the criteria that DTSC uses to identify and define a characteristic of a hazardous waste.

Article 3, directly applicable to this question, describes ways to determine whether the waste exhibits the characteristics of ignitability (Section 66261.21), corrosivity (Section 66261.22), reactivity (Section 66261.23), or toxicity (Section 66261.24), thereby making it hazardous.

Included in Section 66261.24 is information on the following:

  • Maximum Concentration of Contaminants for the Toxicity Characteristic (RCRA waste codes for use in manifesting are included) are listed in Table I (RCRA) and II (California);
  • Inorganic Persistent and Bioaccumulative Toxic Substances with Soluble and Total Threshold Limit Concentrations (STLC and TTLC) are listed in Table II;
  • Organic Persistent and Bioaccumulative Toxic Substances (with STLCs and TTLCs) are listed in Table III.

Article 4 contains lists of hazardous wastes which are hazardous by definition, or “listed wastes.” RCRA waste codes for manifesting these materials are included.

Article 4.1 lists additional Mercury containing products are hazardous waste when discarded.

Article 5 discusses RCRA and non-RCRA hazardous wastes, extremely hazardous wastes and special wastes. Appendices give references for sampling, describe test methods, list hazardous constituents and presumptive hazardous materials.

Appendix X lists chemical substances and common wastes that are presumed to be hazardous unless the generator’s waste determination proves them to be non-hazardous. Appendix XII lists waste codes for use in manifesting non-RCRA (California-only) hazardous wastes.

Management of these wastes is described in Chapter 12, “Standards Applicable to Generators of Hazardous Waste,” which begins with Section 66262.10. In particular, Section 66262.11 describes the generator’s responsibilities to make hazardous waste determinations, and Section 66262.34 provides the regulations covering Accumulation Time.

What can be done with Hazardous Waste? How can Hazardous Waste be Treated to Make it Safe?

The best choice is not generate hazardous waste at all. This is called “waste minimization” or “pollution prevention.” Companies in California are required to examine their waste-producing processes to see whether waste generation can be reduced or prevented by making changes in the processes or procedures. This can be a simple as using washable wipes instead of disposables for cleaning with industrial solvents, or as complicated as changing a manufacturing process to substitute less toxic chemicals. Companies often find that they may have to spend money to make these changes, yet save in the long run.

After a company has minimized the waste that it does produce, there are often management options for the remaining waste that can be followed to avoid disposing of the waste. Recycling is a growing business in North America and the rest of the world. Sometimes a waste from one process can be used in another one right at the factory. For instance, a corrosive acid waste could be used to neutralize a caustic solution. A waste chemical from one process is sometimes sold to another company for use as an ingredient in their process. As an example, an electronics manufacturer’s spent copper circuit board etchant can be treated to remove the toxic copper as copper sulfate, a common chemical. That copper sulfate might then be sold to a company that uses copper sulfate to make plating solution. Some metal-containing sludges can be processed at a metal refiner to recover the metal in elemental form, rather than being disposed of in a landfill.

Many hazardous wastes can be treated by chemical, physical or biological means to reduce the hazard or the volume of the waste. Treatment options are selected on the basis of physical characteristics (i.e. solid, liquid, gas, etc.) and the chemical (hazardous) characteristics of the wastes. A thousand gallons of water contaminated with heavy metals can be treated chemically to get a few pounds of solid waste and a thousand gallons of clean water, which could be reused in the process which generated it. Acids can be neutralized to harmless salts. In biological treatment, microbes digest many toxic substances and reduce them to harmless byproducts. One type of biological treatment option being developed for some wastes is “land-farming,” or “bioremediation,” where specially selected microbes break down hazardous chemicals into harmless byproducts in the soil. There is a great deal of research being done in this area now, all around the world.

Finally, there are disposal options. The two main disposal choices are land disposal and incineration. Current land disposal facilities have double-lined construction and extensive leak monitoring. They are not allowed to accept liquid wastes, and are engineered so that rainwater and surface run-on water that could leak through the unit are minimized. They do use up space, however, and limit future use of that property. Incinerators are a common way of disposing of certain hazardous wastes; in fact, there are some wastes for which the only disposal option is incineration. But they are also very controversial. Proponents say that if they are operated correctly and responsibly, they create virtually no pollution. Opponents say that incinerators work properly only while they are being tested, and under routine use create dangerous pollutants. As citizens, we must examine the arguments and the science that the arguments are based on. California has some of the strongest laws in the nation that require public participation in decisions of siting waste facilities, but in order for those laws to work fairly, citizens must be well-informed and become involved.

Even though new technology is constantly improving waste treatment and disposal methods, the most efficient way of controlling pollution will be to prevent it, a philosophy that California is actively taking into the 21st century. Cal/EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control has an active Pollution Prevention program. The documents at this site can give you an idea of how we encourage and assist businesses in California to operate in a way that minimizes their negative impact on the environment.

What is a Safety Data Sheet (SDS)?

A Safety Data Sheet is a form prepared by a chemical manufacturer or formulator. It provides the following information: product name (common, trade, and/or chemical), hazardous ingredients, physical and chemical characteristics, fire and explosion information, physical and health hazards, special precautions and personal protection information, and disposal and spill information. Employees of the facility must have access to and be trained on the use of the SDS so that they can properly handle the hazardous materials in both normal and emergency circumstances.

Hazardous Waste Labeling

Generators that accumulate and store hazardous waste on-site must comply with the following labeling requirements.  The containers, including tanks, must be properly labeled with the information listed below:

  • The waste accumulation start date and the words “HAZARDOUS WASTE”
  • The physical state and composition of the waste, such as liquid or solid
  • Warning words indicating the particular hazards of the waste, such as, toxic, flammable, corrosive, or reactive
  • The establishment/business name and address of the facility which generated the waste

Sample Labels

Transportation of Hazardous Wastes

Use of a Registered Hazardous Waste Hauler

Hazardous wastes must be transported only by State registered hazardous waste haulers to a State-permitted treatment, storage, or disposal facility (TSDF). These haulers are registered by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Hazardous waste must be packaged and labeled for transport in accordance with applicable Department of Transportation regulations. For further information, please read the information on DTSC’s website Hazardous Waste Transporters.

Federal Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest

All hazardous waste handlers are required to use a Federal hazardous waste manifest.

  • The federal uniform hazardous waste manifest consists of six white pages.
  • The federal manifest does not include a generator copy for submission to DTSC. A generator must make a legible photocopy of the manifest and mail it to DTSC within 30 days of shipping the waste.
  • Generators must purchase manifests from a U.S. EPA approved printer. A list of approved printers may be found at Manifest Registry on U.S. EPA’s website.
  • Fields were added to the federal manifest that were not on the California manifest:  Generator site address, 24-hour emergency phone number, space for six waste codes per line, import/export, discrepancy categories, rejected loads, and an alternate facility.
  • The federal manifest has space for load rejection information (cause, destination, and reference to a new manifest if one is used). In the latter case, the TSDF creates a new manifest and returns the load to the generator.

What are Hazardous Waste Report Management Method Codes (HWRMM Codes)?

California’s waste manifest instructions require that Destination Facilities use one of 28 Management Method Codes to report how the waste was handled at the facility. These are the same codes used in the Biennial Reports. Only Destination Facilities are allowed to add the Management Method codes to the manifest. Generators and transporters do not add these codes.

Hazardous waste transported for disposal or treatment must be accompanied by a completed Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest form. As a generator of hazardous waste, you are responsible and liable for the waste you generate. Accurately completing a manifest form ensures that you will receive notice after the wastes have been delivered to the licensed hazardous waste facility. It also is required to meet your responsibility as a hazardous waste generator. A receipt, instead of a manifest, is acceptable for the transportation of hazardous wastes eligible Consolidated Manifesting. For more information, please read DTSC’s Consolidating Manifest fact sheet.

All records of hazardous waste transported offsite must be kept at the location where the waste was generated for a at least 3 years. This includes manifest copies and/or receipts from Consolidated Manifests used oil or solvent transporters.

Where do Generators Send Manifest Copies?

Generators must make a readable and legible copy of the manifest and send the manifest copy to DTSC within 30 days of the shipment date to:

DTSC Generator Manifests
Department of Toxic Substances Control
P.O. Box 400
Sacramento, CA  95812-0400

Where do TSDF and Destination Facilities Send Manifest Copies?

TSDF sends copy to DTSC with 30 days of the receipt date to:

DTSC Facility Manifests
P.O. Box 3000
Sacramento, CA 95812-3000

In order to complete a hazardous waste manifest, the person generating the hazardous waste must have a valid EPA Identification number. For more information, please read how to obtain an EPA Identification number above. Click the link to see a sample of a blank manifest. All of the following steps must be taken to complete a manifest:

  1. Fill in the top part of the manifest form completely and accurately. Directions for filling out the manifest form are listed on the back of the manifest form. Be sure to use the new Federal EPA Manifest form OMB no. 2050-0039. It is recommended that generators access the DTSC website for complete instructions for completing the new Federal Hazardous Waste Manifest form.
  2. Generator and Transporter must sign and date the manifest.
  3. The generator must keep the generator’s initial manifest (page 6), make a copy of it, and mail it to the Department of Toxic Substances Control. The remaining five copies of the manifest are to be given to the transporter.
  4. The licensed Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) will mail one signed copy back to the generator when they receive the waste from the transporter. This copy must also be kept for at least three years. If the copy from the TSDF is not received within 35 days, you must contact the transporter and/or operator of the TSDF to determine the status of the hazardous waste. It is the generator’s responsibility to track all loads of hazardous waste and to ensure that the manifests have been returned by the required date.
  5. All hazardous wastes are subject to land disposal restrictions (LDR). The LDR notification must be sent with the manifest and a copy kept onsite by the waste generator.

Personnel Training

A personnel training program shall be designed to ensure that employees are able to respond effectively to emergencies, manage the spills, and have ability to characterize wastes and waste potentials. This is to be accomplished by familiarizing the employees with emergency procedures, emergency equipment, and emergency systems, including where applicable:

  • Procedures for using, inspecting, repairing and replacing facility emergency and monitoring equipment;
  • Communications and alarm systems;
  • Response to spills, fires, or explosions;
  • Response to groundwater contamination incidents;
  • How to shut down operations;
  • Operation of automatic waste feed cutoff systems (if applicable); and,
  • Emergency notification procedures.

The following records must be maintained at the facility by the owner/operator where the business is a large quantity generator.

  • The job title and job description for each position related to hazardous waste management and the name of the employee filling each job.  The job description should include the required skills, education, or other qualifications and duties of employees assigned to each position;
  • A written description of the type and amount of training (introductory and continuing) that will be given to each person filling the positions listed above; and,
  • Documentation that the training required has been completed by each employee identified.

The above records must be maintained for current employees and for former employees for at least three years after the employee leaves the business.  

Treatment and Disposal

Hazardous wastes must be disposed of only at non-RCRA facilities or Federal or State facilities. Hazardous wastes may not be disposed of in the regular trash or onto the surface of the ground or into the storm drain. In addition, hazardous waste may not be dumped in the sewer system unless you have an industrial waste discharge pretreatment permit from your local sewer agency.
If you wish to dispose of, treat, or recycle your hazardous waste to render it less toxic or nonhazardous at your business location, you must obtain prior authorization from the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and/or DTSC Imperial CUPA.  

Biennial Report

Large Quantity Generators (>1000 kg/month, or 2,200 lbs/month, or 270 gallons/month) of RCRA hazardous waste are required to submit a Biennial Report to DTSC by March 1 of each even-numbered year. Generators of only non-RCRA hazardous waste and very small quantity generators of RCRA waste may not have to prepare a Biennial Report (See California Code of Regulations, Title 22, section 66262.41).


Hazardous waste regulations are intended to prevent the mismanagement of hazardous waste which could lead to conditions which may cause harm to humans or to the environment. Since hazardous waste can cause serious or fatal injuries, penalties have been established for willful or negligent violation of the hazardous waste laws. Violations may result in administrative or civil penalties of up to $70,000 per day of violation or criminal penalties of up to $250,000 per day of violation and/or up to three years in a State/Federal prison.

Emergency Preparedness and Prevention

Your business must be maintained and operated to minimize the possibility of a release of hazardous waste to the air, soil, or surface water which could threaten human health or the environment. Your business must provide the small and large spill equipment stationed at the facility. Spills should be handled by well-trained persons, and should be reported to local emergency management authorities and California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES).

DTSC Trinity CUPA Hotline Number: 1-866-348-0028

Employees handling hazardous waste must have access to either an alarm system, communications system, or be in voice contact with another employee. If one employee is working alone, he shall have access to a telephone or two-way radio to summon external assistance.

The owner/operator must maintain adequate aisle space to allow the unobstructed movement of personnel, fire protection equipment and decontamination equipment in case of an emergency.

The following emergency equipment should be provided and maintained at your job site.

  • Portable fire extinguishers
  • Fire control equipment
  • Spill control equipment
  • Decontamination equipment

Consolidated Contingency Plan

Businesses that generate > 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs or 270 gallons) of hazardous waste per month are required to have a Contingency Plan. The site-specific Contingency Plan is the facility’s plan for dealing with emergencies and shall be implemented immediately whenever there is a fire, explosion, or release of hazardous materials that could threaten human health and/or the environment.  

Contact Us

DTSC Trinity CUPA Office
8800 Cal Center Drive
Sacramento, California 958263
Phone (916) 255-6610
Hotline (866) 348-0028
Fax (916) 255-6621

Staff Contacts