Frequent Questions

Are conditionally exempt small quantity generators (CESQGs) that accumulate universal waste required to manage the waste in accordance with Part 273, or can the generator manage the waste as a CESQG in accordance with §261.5?

The universal waste management standards in Part 273 are an alternative set of standards to Parts 260 through 272 (§273.1(b)).   CESQGs have the option of handling their waste under the reduced generator requirements codified in §261.5 or as universal waste (§273.8).  EPA believes that allowing CESQGs to choose the regulatory option that best meets their circumstances will aid in assuring the effective collection, management, and disposal of universal wastes (60 FR 25492, 25510; May 11, 1995). However, if universal wastes generated from CESQGs are commingled with universal wastes produced by small quantity or large quantity generators, and the commingled waste is a hazardous waste defined by §261.3 (i.e., because it is listed or exhibits a characteristic), then it must be managed as a universal waste in accordance with Part 273 (60 FR 25492, 25509-10; May 11, 1995). 
The universal waste final rule (60 FR 25492; May 11, 1995) is available at the following URL:

Additional guidance on the management of universal waste by CESQGs is available in the following memos:

Memo, Springer to RCRA Senior Policy Advisors; October 23, 2003 (RCRA Online 14685)
Memo, Bussard to Melone; July 14, 1993 (RCRA Online 11756) [PDF 7K]  

Note: On November 28, 2016, EPA published the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule, which makes several revisions to the hazardous waste generator regulations including the designation of CESQG changing to very small quantity generator (VSQG). Other revisions may also affect the information provided in this FAQ. The final rule and additional information, including a fact sheet, frequent questions, and a webinar recording and slides, are available at

The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule is effective on May 30, 2017; however, implementation in a particular state depends on the state’s authorization status. A discussion of the effect that this final rule will have on state authorization is available on page 85801 of the rule. Information about how the rule will affect the requirements in this FAQ in a particular state is best obtained from the state hazardous waste program. A list of state hazardous waste programs is available at

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