Frequent Questions

Can states expand their universal waste programs to include nonhazardous wastes?

Authorized states may expand their state universal waste programs to include additional wastes beyond the federally recognized universal wastes (i.e., batteries, pesticides, mercury thermostats, and lamps).  EPA established criteria that a wastestream should meet to be included as a universal waste (§273.81).  States should evaluate potential additional wastes against these criteria (60 FR 25492, Page 25537; May 11, 1995).  However, a state may not designate as a universal waste any waste which is not a hazardous waste in that state. For example, a state that is not authorized for the Toxicity Characteristic could not designate a waste that exhibited the Toxicity Characteristic as a universal waste (60 FR 25492, Page 25537; May 11, 1995).

If an authorized state adds a new hazardous waste to its universal waste program, management of that waste under the universal waste regulations would only be allowed within that state and in other states that have added the waste to their universal waste programs as well.  For example, a waste generated within a state that has added the waste to its universal waste program can be managed as a universal waste, however, shipments of that waste to a state that has not added the waste to its universal waste program must comply with the full hazardous waste requirements (60 FR 25492, 25537; May 11, 1995).

The universal waste final rule (60 FR 25492; May 11, 1995) is available at the following URL:

Additional guidance on adding wastes to state universal waste programs is available in the following memo:

Memo, Shapiro to Regions; February 13, 1997 (RCRA Online 14088) [PDF 22K]

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