Designation banner

Designate Your Waste—Is it Dangerous?

What is Designation?

Designation is the process of determining if a waste is dangerous waste and what the hazards are. It’s the first step in managing your dangerous waste properly. You must designate your waste to:

In Washington, we use the term “dangerous waste” while the federal rules use the term “hazardous waste." Our state rules are more protective than the federal rules, so dangerous waste includes more wastes than the federal definition. Our Dangerous Waste Regulations are based on the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), but Washington requires businesses to follow additional rules.

Designation will help you identify waste codes. They are 4-character codes that describe the type of waste and the risks it represents. A dangerous waste might have multiple codes. All applicable codes must be assigned. Example codes:

  • D001: ignitable
  • D008: tests for lead
  • D039: tests for tetrachloroethylene (also called perchloroethylene, or PERC)
  • WT01: Washington state-only toxic waste

Start Designating

Watch our introductory video. It will help you understand the process. Then follow our step-by-step guide by clicking the menu arrows at the top of this page.

The guide is an overview and you may need more help. Contact a compliance specialist at your regional office with questions about designating or managing your dangerous waste.

Why is it important?

Designation is an important part of running your businesses successfully. You need to know what types of waste you have and their hazards so you can keep your workplace and community safe. If your waste is dangerous, you must make sure it’s handled safely while on site and then disposed of properly.

It’s the law. You are responsible for the dangerous waste your business generates from cradle to grave—you’re responsible even after you send it for disposal. If you have a chemical spill that gets into the storm drain, for example, you are responsible for the legal and financial consequences. If you send your waste to a disposal facility that doesn’t manage the waste properly, you are responsible. So know your waste and follow the Dangerous Waste Regulations.

Many businesses hire a waste service provider to transport and dispose of dangerous waste. Some help designate the wastes and provide waste labels with the applicable waste codes. However you are responsible for the waste, so you want to make sure the waste is designated properly.