EPA Definition of Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, gases, or sludges. They can be discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides, or the by-products of manufacturing processes.

Learn more about hazardous waste and the regulations that govern it:

  • Definition of Solid Waste (DSW): Before a material can be classified as a hazardous waste, it must first be a solid waste as defined under RCRA. Resources are available to help at EPA.gov
  • Types of Hazardous Waste: Hazardous waste are divided into listed wastes, characteristic wastes, universal wastes, and mixed wastes. Specific procedures determine how waste is identified, classified, listed, and delisted.
  • Hazardous Waste Generators: Hazardous waste generators are divided into categories based on the amount of waste they produce each month. Different regulations apply to each generator category.
  • Hazardous Waste Transporters: Hazardous waste transporters move waste from one site to another by highway, rail, water, or air. Federal and, in some cases, State regulations govern hazardous waste transportation, including the Manifest System.
  • Corrective Action: RCRA compels those responsible for releasing hazardous pollutants into the soil, water, or air to clean up those releases.
  • Test Methods: EPA has a variety of analytical chemistry and characteristic testing methodologies, environmental sampling and monitoring, and quality assurance in place to support RCRA.
  • International Waste: EPA provides information and guidance on regulations, agreements, initiatives, and other developments in waste policy and law, both in the United States and abroad.