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ECAR Fact Sheet for California
Hazardous Wastes


The intent of the hazardous waste program is to provide a cradle-to-grave management system for hazardous wastes to ensure that these wastes are not mismanaged in a way that will impact human health or the environment.

To comply with California's hazardous waste requirements, you must follow the steps below:

  1. Determine whether any hazardous waste is generated and what type of waste it is.
  2. Determine which regulations must be complied with and comply with those requirements.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has prepared a guidance document to help auto recyclers manage hazardous waste. Much of the information is included in the fact sheet below. You can access the guidance for hazardous waste under 'Other Relevant Resources.'


California regulates hazardous waste using the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) rules and numerous, additional state requirements. State-specific requirements include rules for generators, transporters, hazardous waste treatment storage and disposal facilities, used oil handlers, and universal waste. Also, the state regulates more wastes as hazardous wastes than the federal rules.

Definition of Hazardous Waste. California has broader and more specific definitions for waste than do the federal requirements. In addition to the listed and characteristic wastes under the federal rules and California's non-RCRA hazardous wastes, the state also adds extremely hazardous wastes and special wastes. California has not adopted all of the federal waste and hazardous waste exclusions, which makes its waste determination rules stricter than the federal. In California, solid waste means 'wastes that are not hazardous.'

Hazardous Waste Determination.  It is the responsibility of all generators to determine whether their waste is hazardous. The procedure for this is called a 'hazardous waste determination.'  You may assume a waste is hazardous based on its characteristics or on past laboratory analysis provided there is no change in how the waste was generated. In some cases, you may use your knowledge of a waste to make a determination as to whether the waste is a characteristic hazardous waste. If you use such information to classify a waste as nonhazardous, you must maintain documentation supporting this determination. If you are not sure, have the waste tested. Keep in mind that a non-hazardous waste may become hazardous if contaminated or mixed with other materials and re-testing would be needed.

Wastes can be hazardous if they are either 'listed' or 'characteristic', or if they are a mixture of a listed hazardous waste and other wastes.

A. RCRA Hazardous Waste. A hazardous waste is presumed to be a RCRA hazardous waste unless or until the generator determines that the waste is non-RCRA hazardous waste. A hazardous waste is a RCRA hazardous waste if it meets any of the following criteria:

It exhibits characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity;

It is listed as a hazardous waste and has not been excluded the federal regulations; or

It is identified as a hazardous waste.

B. Non-RCRA Hazardous Waste. A hazardous waste is a non-RCRA hazardous waste if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • It does not exhibit any of the characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity;
  • It exhibits characteristics of corrosivity and toxicity, or otherwise meets the definition of a hazardous waste;
  • It is not listed as a hazardous waste, or is listed and has been excluded by the federal regulations; or
  • It is listed and is not identified as a RCRA hazardous waste.

A hazardous waste is a non-RCRA hazardous waste if it exhibits applicable characteristics and meets any of the following criteria:

  • It is identified as a potential non-RCRA hazardous waste, or is identified as a potential non-RCRA hazardous waste; or
  • It is excluded from classification as a solid waste or a hazardous waste in the federal regulations.

A container, or an inner liner from a container, which is empty, but is required to be managed as a hazardous waste, is a non-RCRA hazardous waste.

A waste which is not classified as a non-RCRA hazardous waste may be classified as a non-RCRA hazardous waste if the generator can otherwise determine that the waste would not be regulated as a hazardous waste pursuant to subtitle C of RCRA or implementing regulations.

C. Extremely Hazardous Waste. Any waste which is extremely hazardous shall be managed in accordance with the specific provisions pertaining to extremely hazardous waste. A waste, or a material, is extremely hazardous if it:

  • Has an acute oral LD
  • 50 less than or equal to 50 milligrams per kilogram; or
  • Has an acute dermal LD50 less than or equal to 43 milligrams per kilogram; or
  • Has an acute inhalation LC50 less than or equal to 100 parts per million as a gas or vapor; or
  • Contains any of the substances listed in the regulations at a single or combined concentration equal to or exceeding 0.1 percent by weight; or
  • Has been shown through experience or testing that human exposure to the waste or material may likely result in death, disabling personal injury or serious illness because of the carcinogenicity, high acute or chronic toxicity, bioaccumulative properties, or persistence in the environment of the waste or material; or
  • Is water-reactive.

A waste containing one or more materials which are extremely hazardous is not extremely hazardous if the generator determines that neither the calculated acute oral toxicity nor the calculated acute dermal toxicity of the waste using the required equation is numerically equal to or less than the toxicity limits prescribed, and the waste is not extremely hazardous by any other criterion of the regulations.

D. Hazardous Wastes of Concern. A hazardous waste of concern is a hazardous waste that is identified on the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest with one of the following hazard divisions within the U.S. DOT description, or otherwise known as:

  • An explosive material, hazard division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3, as defined under the Code of Federal Regulations; or
  • A poisonous material, hazard division 6.1, packing group I or II, as defined under the Code of Federal Regulations; or
  • A poisonous gas, hazard division 2.3, as defined under the Code of Federal Regulations.

E. Total Threshold Limit Concentration Values of Persistent and Bioaccumulative Toxic Substances in Extremely Hazardous Wastes. Any waste containing a listed substance at a concentration equal to or exceeding its listed total threshold limit concentration is an extremely hazardous waste. Refer to the regulations for a listing of the wastes.

F. Special Wastes. A hazardous waste which meets all of the following criteria and requirements shall be classified as a special waste:

  • It is a solid, a water-based sludge or a water-based slurry of which the solid constituents are substantially insoluble in water;
  • It is a hazardous waste only because it contains a persistent or bioaccumulative substance at a solubilized and extractable concentration exceeding its Soluble Threshold Limit Concentration (STLC), or at a total concentration exceeding its Total Threshold Limit Concentration (TTLC), except that:
    •  It shall contain no persistent or bioaccumulative listed substances at a solubilized and extractable concentration in milligrams per kilogram of waste exceeding the TTLC value for the substance; and
    • It shall contain no persistent or bioaccumulative inorganic substance at a concentration equal to or exceeding the TTLC value of the substance.

The following is a non-inclusive list of wastes, which may be classified as special wastes:

  • Ash from burning of fossil fuels, biomass and other combustible materials;
  • Auto shredder waste;
  • Baghouse and scrubber wastes from air pollution control;
  • Catalyst from petroleum refining and chemical plant processes;
  • Cement kiln dust;
  • Dewatered sludge from treatment of industrial process water;
  • Dewatered tannery sludge;
  • Drilling mud from drilling of gas and oil wells;
  • Refractory from industrial furnaces, kilns and ovens;
  • Sand from sandblasting;
  • Sand from foundry casting;
  • Slag from coal gasification;
  • Sulfur dioxide scrubber waste from flue gas emission control in combustion of fossil fuels; or
  • Tailings from the extraction, beneficiation and processing of ores and minerals.

G. Universal Wastes.  Universal wastes have fewer waste management rules that apply to them. For more information about the generation, storage, transportation, disposal and recycling of universal wastes, refer to the state's universal waste requirements.

Generator Status.  In California, all hazardous waste generators are subject to the same state generator requirements. A generator or producer means any person, by site, whose act or process produces hazardous waste or whose act first causes a hazardous waste to become subject to regulation.

Complying with Hazardous Waste Rules. Once you have determined whether you generate hazardous waste and your generator status, you can determine which requirements apply to you.

Links to the Regulations. Use the following links to view the regulations pertaining to hazardous waste management.

California's Hazardous Waste Management Requirements

Federal EPA Standards Applicable to Generators of Hazardous Waste

Hazardous Waste Listings


  1. Contact the DTSC Public and Business Liaisons at 800-728-6942, or go to http://www.dtsc.ca.gov. Follow the 'Toxic Questions?' and 'Contact a Live Person!' links to the page listing each of the Duty Officers' email addresses.
  2. To report large spills and releases to the environment, contact your local emergency response offices (usually 911) as well as the Office of Emergency Services Warning Center: 800-852-7550.

Other Relevant Resources

  1. Hazardous Waste Generator Requirements (CA DTSC)
  2. Hazardous Waste Generators - Guidance Documents (CA DTSC)
  3. Managing Hazardous Waste Main Web Page (CA DTSC)
  4. Partners in the Solution Guidance Manual (State of CA Auto Dismantlers Assn.)


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