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The United States ranks third when it comes to producing hazardous wastes. It creates 8.4 billion tons of waste each year.

Worldwide, over 400 million tons of waste is made. Such astronomical amounts make proper waste disposal all the more important.

When hazardous waste is brought up, most people picture the yellow tanks filled with green, oozing slime. This isn’t the only type of waste, though, nor is it the most common.

This article will cover the topic of hazardous wastes and the various disposal methods you should follow.

What Is Hazardous Waste?

Hazardous waste is a byproduct that can cause harm to a person or the environment. You can create hazardous waste from many things, ranging from a paper mill to batteries. Hazardous waste also comes in several different forms, including sludges, gases, and liquids.

The EPA puts hazardous waste into three broad types: listed, characteristic, and mixed radiological waste. Each of these three types has sub-categories beneath them.

What Are Listed Wastes?

A listed waste is often produced by manufacturing processes. They can also be made from commercial product chemical wastes.

There are four types of listed waste:

F-List Waste

Hazardous waste goes onto the F-list if it’s from a non-specific source. This type of listed waste comes from manufacturing and industrial processes.

K-List Waste

Any hazardous waste from a specific source goes onto the K-list. The same as the F-list, most K-list waste is made from manufacturing and industrial processes.

However, the key difference is they’re from an identifiable industry, like petroleum refining.

P- and U-List Waste

All pure, unused chemicals go onto the P- and U-list.

Acute waste goes onto the P-list and its containers are also hazardous waste. U-list waste containers are not treated as hazardous.

What Are Characteristic Wastes?

A characteristic waste is any hazardous waste material that features any of the typified properties of each category. Hazardous waste has four different characteristics:

  • Toxic
  • Flammable
  • Corrosive
  • Reactive

Toxic Materials

Any substance capable of causing serious harm or death from contact, consumption, or inhalation is a toxic waste. There are many types of toxic waste to be found, such as paint, weed killers, antifreeze, and many cleaning products.

Flammable Materials

A substance that can ignite, combust, or burn is a flammable hazardous waste. The types of flammable waste include cans of gasoline, propane tanks, or any liquid that has a flashpoint of less than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Corrosive Materials

The majority of corrosive wastes are liquid that can corrode metal. Any industrial strength cleaners or items with hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid in their ingredients are a corrosive waste.

Reactive Materials

A substance that’s unstable and can explode is a reactive waste. The most common type of reactive material to be found are aerosol cans.

Mixed Radiological Wastes

This type of hazardous waste is mixed with radiological properties. It is both hazardous and radioactive. Due to containing two different types of regulated wastes, radiological waste must meet both RCRA and the Atomic Energy Act for disposal.

Methods to Dispose of Hazardous Wastes

Many regulations are surrounding the disposal of hazardous waste. That’s why so many businesses use a professional hazardous waste disposal service to take care of the problem for them.

There are a lot of steps to waste management, from the management, collection, storage, and disposal of it. All proper procedures must be followed to avoid harming people or the environment.

The most common methods of disposal are:


This method involves burning hazardous waste until it is an incombustible residue. This method is most often utilized when landfill space is waning.

To incinerate hazardous waste, the byproduct must first be detoxified. By detoxifying waste, it won’t release as much toxic gas into the atmosphere.

Some states use the incineration method to produce steam. The steam drives turbines, which in turn generate electric power.

The heat created by the incinerators is recycled. The recycling process helps lower the cost of energy production, as well as waste disposal.

Any waste that has nitrogen, chlorine, phosphorous, carcinogenic substances, and heavy metals all go to an incinerator that has pollution control devices on it.


Toxic waste is often stored underground.

Hazardous waste doesn’t go to a typical landfill where your household trash goes. A landfill for toxic waste will have a double-layered non-porous material lining the disposal area. The lining helps prevent waste from leaching into the ground and contaminating drinking water or the environment.

When hazardous waste is dumped into this special landfill, it is then buried. The downside to this disposal method is that it takes a large amount of space to accomplish.


The disposal method of storing waste underground is primarily for radioactive waste. Radioactive waste comes from lab experiments, medical treatments, and even mining.

A mine must be inactive and meet certain technical and geological criteria before it can be used to store hazardous waste underground. When people think of hazardous waste disposal, it is the image of a massive cavern filled with tanks of radioactive ooze that most conjure.

Dumping at Sea

The method of dumping hazardous waste into the deep sea is now under strict regulation or outright banned depending on the location.

For this method, hazardous waste must be treated to reduce its toxicity before it can be dumped at sea. Due to how controversial and regulated this method is, it isn’t used any longer, much less provided by any standard waste disposal service.

Take Care of Your Hazardous Wastes Today

If your business creates hazardous wastes during its operation, you need to take proper steps to dispose of it the correct way. Knowing how and where to dispose of waste can be confusing, though. That’s why many businesses opt to hire a disposal service for their trash.

If you have any questions or would like a free quote for our services, contact us today.

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