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Identifying hazardous products and wastes

Home >> Business Hazardous Waste >> Identifying hazardous products and wastes

Identifying hazardous products and wastes

A business that uses any of these common materials probably creates (generates) hazardous waste:

  • paints, thinners, solvents or cleaning fluids
  • materials that burn or itch on contact with skin
  • materials that dissolve metal, wood, paper or clothing
  • pesticides
  • products with a warning label such as "flammable," "caustic," "danger," "hazardous" or "poison."
    Warning labels

What is "hazardous waste"?

The owner of a business must first decide if something is a waste, and if so, whether it is hazardous. A material is "waste" if:

  • The business doesn't want it - and no one else can use it.
  • It's old or outdated.
  • It can no longer be used.
  • It spilled.

In Washington, a waste is "hazardous" if it's listed (discarded products (external link) and sources (external link), meets characteristics (external link) (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity) or criteria (external link) (environmental persistence or toxicity) described in the regulations.

Hazardous wastes require special handling

Hazardous wastes can't be put in the dumpster, poured down the drain or evaporated into the air. They can't be taken to the transfer station or municipal landfill. The amount of waste the business produces or stores determines "generator status" and which regulations apply. Use the Waste Directory "Yellow Book" to find vendors who can properly manage your waste.

All businesses must

  • Identify all hazardous wastes and how much is generated each month
  • Assure proper disposal, treatment and/or recycling of their hazardous waste
  • Prevent threats to human health or the environment
  • Comply with regulations, no matter how little hazardous waste they generate
  • Know which rules apply based on "generator status" which refers to whether your business is a Small, Medium, or Large Quantity Generator.

How much hazardous waste your business creates matters