Faxback 11377



NOV 1 1988


SUBJECT; Clarification of Issue Pertaining to Household
Hazardous Waste Collection Programs

FROM: J. Winston Porter
Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste
and Emergency Response

TO: Waste Management Division Directors,
Regions I-X

As you know, the Agency enthusiastically supports
household hazardous waste (HHW) collection and management
programs. As part of this support, EPA has sponsored annual
HHW conferences since 1986. The first collection programs
began in 1981. As of October 1988, over 1300 collection
programs have been set up in 44 States and more programs are
being planned all the time. EPA believes these programs are
important because they: (1) promote citizen awareness
regarding proper handling of HHW; (2) reduce the amount of HHW
in the municipal solid waste stream which ultimately is
taken to municipal solid waste combustors or landfills; (3) limit
the amount of HHW which is dumped down a drain and ultimately
discharged to a publicly-owned treatment works (POTW), or is
dumped indiscriminately; (4) remove a greater amount of HHW
from the home, thereby reducing potential safety hazards; and
(5) help to reduce the risk of injuries to sanitation workers.

Several issues have been raised pertaining to HHW
collection programs. These issues include the liability of
collection program sponsors under the Resource Conservation
and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA); EPA's
recommendations regarding the management of HHW; and the
regulatory status of HHW that contains dioxin.


This memorandum clarifies our position on these issues.
You should note, however, that State positions may vary; the
State agency should be contacted for details on the State's
policies or regulations regarding HHW.

1. What does EPA recommend regarding management of HHW
collected in HHW collection programs?

As you know, all household wastes are exempt by
definition from the Federal hazardous waste regulations
promulgated under Subtitle C of RCRA. Section 261.4(b)(1)
unconditionally exempts household wastes, including HHW, from
the Subtitle C regulations even when accumulated in large
quantities. This exemption also applies to HHW collected
during a HHW collection program. However, when household
wastes are mixed with hazardous wastes from small quantity
generators, this resulting mixture is subject to the small
quantity generator rules in Section 261.5. For this reason,
sponsors of HHW collection programs should be careful to limit
the participation in their programs to households to avoid the
possibility of receiving regulated hazardous wastes from
commercial or industrial sources and triggering all or some of
the Subtitle C controls on this waste.

Household waste, including HHW, is subject to the
regulations under Subtitle D of RCRA. The current Subtitle D
regulations governing the disposal of any solid waste are the
"Criteria for Classification of Solid Waste Disposal
Facilities and Practices" (40 CFR Part 257). These
regulations are general environmental performance standards
that are implemented by the States. On August 30, 1988 (see
53 FR 33314) EPA proposed new rules for municipal solid waste
landfills at 40 CFR Part 258. HHW can legally be disposed in
any solid waste disposal facility, including a municipal solid
waste landfill, that is in compliance with the existing
"Criteria" and State and local requirements.

Although HHW is exempt from Federal RCRA Subtitle C
hazardous waste regulations, EPA recommends that sponsors of
HHW collection programs manage the collected HHW as a
hazardous waste. When a community has already gone to the
effort of expense of collecting these materials, Subtitle C
controls provide a greater level of environmental protection.
In selecting a management option, the Agency recommends that
program sponsors follow the waste management hierarchy of:


(1) Reusing and recycling as much waste as possible;
(2 Treating waste in a hazardous waste treatment
facility; and, finally,
(3) Disposing of remaining waste in a hazardous waste

The Agency also recommends the use of licensed hazardous
waste transporters who will properly identify, label,
manifest, and transport the collected wastes for recycling,
treatment, or disposal. Although sponsors are not required to
manage HHW as a hazardous waste, it is clear from seeing the
programs in action, that, in fact, sponsors usually contract
with hazardous waste management professionals to run the
programs. These contractors generally manage the HHW as a
hazardous waste and usually make efforts to reuse and recycle
the waste.

2. What is the regulatory status of HHW that contains dioxin?

As stated above, HHW is unconditionally exempt from
Federal RCRA Subtitle C regulation. This exemption includes
HHW that contains dioxin, such as pesticides. Like any
household waste, HHW that contains dioxin must be disposed
of in accordance with EPA's rules under Subtitle D of

The RCRA land disposal restrictions rule issued
November 8, 1986, applies only to those dioxin-bearing
wastes that are specifically listed as hazardous wastes
under Subtitle C of RCRA. Therefore, this rule does not
apply to any HHW and does not prohibit hazardous waste land
disposal facilities from receiving any HHW, even those
potentially containing dioxin.2 Although dioxin-containing
HHW are exempt from EPA's land disposal restrictions rule,
we understand that, due to public perception concerns,
some Subtitle C hazardous waste management facilities
currently do not accept dioxin-bearing HHW. EPA will
explore options with State and local governments so that a
solution for this problem can be found. For example, we
are looking at ways to encourage the waste management
industry to reconsider their position and accept these
wastes. Some communities have chosen to temporarily
store this dioxin-bearing HHW until a more permanent
management option can be found. -

1To the extent that non-hazardous liquids are not
containerized in accordance with Sections 40 CFR 264.314(d),
265.314(c), 2674.316, and 265.316, such liquids are subject to
the non-hazardous liquids restrictions set forth at Sections
264.314(e) and 265.314(f). Likewise, the land disposal restrictions do not
apply to
any other HHW.


3. What liability do HHW collection programs sponsors have
under Subtitle C of RCRA?

As stated above, Section 261.4(b)(10, exempts household
wastes, including, HHW, from the Federal Subtitle C
regulations. As a result, handlers of HHW are not potentially
liable under Subtitle C of RCRA for failure to follow the
regulations and are not required to manage collected HHW in
Subtitle C hazardous waste management facilities. As
previously mentioned, however, EPA recommends that this waste
be handled as a Subtitle C hazardous waste.

4. What liability do sponsors of HHW collection programs have
under CERCLA?

CERCLA does not contain an exclusion from liability for
household waste or an exclusion based on the amount of waste
generated. Any waste that qualifies as a hazardous substance
under CERCLA is subject to the liability provisions of Section
107. Hazardous substances are defined under Section 101(14)
and designated under Section 102(a) of CERCLA. HHW may
qualify as a "hazardous substance" if it contains any
substance listed in Table 302.4 of 40 CFR Part 302. If a
household waste contains a substance that is covered under
these CERCLA sections (whether or not it is a RCRA hazardous
waste), potential CERCLA liability exists.

Communities should recognize that potential liability
under CERCLA applies regardless of whether the HHW has picked
up as part of a community's routine waste collection service
and disposed of in a municipal waste landfill (RCRA Subtitle
D) or if the HHW was gathered as part of special collection
program and taken to a hazardous waste landfill (RCRA Subtitle
C). The additional safeguards provided by HHW collection and
Subtitle C management may reduce the likelihood of
environmental and human health impacts and, therefore, may
also reduce potential CERCLA liability.

I hope this information will assist you in addressing
questions regarding HHW collection and management programs.
We are providing copies of this memorandum to States and the
major waste management trade associations. I request that you
make this information available to any other interested
parties in your Region. If you require additional information
or clarification on these issues, please contact Allen Maples
of the Municipal Solid Waste Program at (202) 382-4683.

cc: State Solid and Hazardous Waste Directors
Bryan W. Dixon, ASTSWMO
Dana Duxbury, Consultant to Tufts University, CEM
William Forester, APWA
H. Lanier Hickman, GRCDA
Sheila Prindiville, NSWMA
Hazardous Waste Branch Chiefs, Regions I-X
Regional Subtitle D Coordinators, Regions I-X