Responsibility for Demolition Waste

Legally, a waste generator is always responsible for waste designation.  According to the definitions section of the Dangerous Waste Rules, a generator is "any person, by site, whose act or process produces dangerous waste or whose act first causes a dangerous waste to become subject to regulation." A generator of demolition debris is generally the person who owned the demolished building. They may contract some tasks, such as demolition and designation or identification of the waste. However, as generator, the site owner is ultimately liable for the handling of the waste. 

Contractors are responsible for wastes that originate on their own property.  They should  not take regulated amounts of dangerous wastes generated at a work site back to their shop or another work site. The generator is in the best position to have knowledge of their waste generation processes. Usually, a contractor is responsible for debris from construction or demolition projects.

Generators often rely on the facility that treats, stores, disposes or recycles their waste, a consultant, or someone in their industry to do their designation for them. A contractor can represent a property owner or generator in managing their waste.  For example, when working at the generator's site, they can prepare dangerous waste for shipping and prepare the manifest.  Contractors and property owners are both responsible for protecting their employees and clients from hazardous exposures. Painters, abatement workers, and demolition workers who use unsafe practices can be exposed to extremely high levels of lead and asbestos.

Note that a contractor that does not generate more than 220 pound of dangerous waste (or 2.2 pounds of acute hazardous waste or WT01 extremely hazardous waste) at one time or per month has much less stringent waste management requirements. Known as small-quantity generators, this group of generators is able to transport their own wastes, often to a municipal solid waste landfill or bring it to a county moderate risk waste (household hazardous waste) facility.