Frequent Questions

How is generator defined?

Generator is defined as any person, by site, whose act or process produces hazardous waste identified or listed in Part 261 or whose act first causes a hazardous waste to become subject to regulation (40 CFR §260.10). The generator of a waste may not necessarily be the person who actually produced the waste. For example, a contractor who removes hazardous residues from a product storage tank is the first person to cause the waste to become subject to regulation, rather than the owner of the tank. Although the person removing the waste from the unit is not the owner or operator of the unit, but he or she may be considered a generator. The owner or operator of the unit may also be considered a generator since the act of operating the unit led to the generation of the hazardous waste. In other words, both the person that removed the waste and the owner or operator of the tank are considered to be co-generators. In cases where one or more persons meet the definition of generator, all persons are jointly and severally liable for compliance with the generator regulations (45 FR 72024, 72026; October 30, 1980).

Memo, Cotsworth to Melchiori; March 12, 1997 (RCRA Online #14069)
Memo, Shapiro to Warshaw; March 12, 1996 (RCRA Online #14027)
Memo, Petruska to Chirigos; August 10, 1995 (RCRA Online #11913)
Memo, Shapiro to Stocker; March 4, 1994 (RCRA Online # 11816)
Memo, Lowrance to Turner; July 21, 1988 (RCRA Online #11355)
Memo, Lucero and Williams to Regions; June 24, 1987 (RCRA Online #12952)
Memo, Porter to Rinaldo; August 6, 1986 (RCRA Online #12706)
Memo, Horner to Citizen; January 23, 1985 (RCRA Online #11053)
Monthly Call Center Report Question; December 1984 (RCRA Online #12340)
Memo, Lindsey to Ellis; May 20, 1981 (RCRA Online #11013)
Memo, Dietrich to Cooper; November 18, 1980 (RCRA Online #11005)

These documents are available at the following URL:

Note: On November 28, 2016, EPA published the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule, which makes several revisions to the hazardous waste generator regulations. These revisions may 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 a New Window..

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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