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5 Step Guide to Determining if your Solid Waste Becomes a Hazardous Waste

Under The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which governs the proper management of hazardous waste and non-hazardous solid waste under the EPA, a solvent must first be classified as a solid waste before it can be considered a “hazardous waste.” Under RCRA, the term “solid waste” includes solid materials, liquids, and contained gases, but in the case of solvents, the solid waste label occurs when solvents are discarded or recycled in a certain manner, (e.g., burning for energy recovery), or if they are “spent”.

A spent solvent is exactly that— it’s finished due to a contamination, or it’s no longer able to be used for its intended purpose without first being regenerated, reclaimed, or otherwise reprocessed. Spent solvents can be classified as:

  • Expired and unusable
  • Off-specification commercial chemical products
  • Discarded U.S. military ammunition products or components
  • Unwanted and/or unused and destined for disposal
  • Residues, contaminated soil or water, or other debris resulting from the cleanup of a solvent spill.
  • Inherently waste-like materials that may pose a human health threat—for example, certain dioxin-containing wastes


We’ve broken down the EPA hazardous waste flow chart into a quick guide, to help you determine if your solvent is considered a hazardous waste.

Click above to download the 5- Step Guide

  1. First, is your solvent a solid waste?

See above. If your solvent waste does not first classify as a solid waste, it won’t ever be classified as hazardous waste.

  1. If yes, is it automatically excluded under EPA rules?

If you possess a solvent waste, the next step is to determine if it is automatically excluded as a hazardous waste per EPA regulation. Some wastes that may be classified as a solid waste above can still be excluded as a hazardous waste under the EPA solid waste regulation, and are not subject to RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste regulation. These materials are excluded for a variety of reasons, including public policy, economic impacts, regulation by other laws, lack of data, or impracticability of regulating the waste. The decision to exclude the following materials from the solid waste definition is a result of either Congressional action (embodied in the statute) or an EPA rulemaking.

The table below sourced from the EPA contains a detailed description of solid wastes which are not considered hazardous:

Solid Wastes Which Are Not Hazardous Wastes CFR Citation for the Exclusion
Household Hazardous Waste §261.4(b)(1)
Agricultural Waste §261.4(b)(2)
Mining Overburden §261.4(b)(3)
Fossil Fuel Combustion Waste (Bevill) §261.4(b)(4)
Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Wastes (Bentsen Amendment) §261.4(b)(5)
Trivalent Chromium Wastes §261.4(b)(6)
Mining and Mineral Processing Wastes (Bevill) §261.4(b)(7)
Cement Kiln Dust (Bevill) §261.4(b)(8)
Arsenically Treated Wood §261.4(b)(9)
Petroleum Contaminated Media & Debris from Underground Storage Tanks §261.4(b)(10)
Injected Groundwater §261.4(b)(11)
Spent Chloroflurocarbon Refrigerants §261.4(b)(12)
Used Oil Filters §261.4(b)(13)
Used Oil Distillation Bottoms §261.4(b)(14)
Landfill Leachate or Gas Condensate Derived from Certain Listed Wastes §261.4(b)(15)
Project XL Pilot Project Exclusions §261.4(b)(17)
Project XL Pilot Project Exclusions




  1. If no, is your solid waste solvent a listed hazardous waste?

If your solid waste is not automatically excluded as a hazardous waste, you need to determine if it is a listed hazardous waste. A solid waste is a hazardous waste only if it is specifically listed as a known hazardous waste, or meets the characteristics of a hazardous waste. It must be listed on one of four lists (the F, K, P and U lists) found in title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in section 261, found here.

  1. If yes, is the waste delisted by the RCRA?

If your solid waste is listed as a hazardous waste under CFR regulation, you then need to determine if this waste is subject to delisting. RCRA regulations will exclude or “delist” a particular facility’s waste from the list of hazardous wastes if it does not possess dangerous properties. Listed hazardous wastes have the opportunity to be delisted from the classification of hazardous waste, if the waste generating process changes, which can be a major way to reduce costs. Characteristic hazardous wastes, which are designated hazardous because they exhibit dangerous properties such as corrosivity, ignitability, reactivity, or toxicity, cannot be delisted.

  1. If no, you possess a hazardous waste subject to RCRA Subtitle C regulation.

If your facility is in possession of a hazardous waste, make sure you follow the “cradle to grave” framework of proper management of hazardous waste as directed under EPA rule.


If you have a hazardous solvent waste that needs to be recycled or disposed of, a waste management service like Solvent Recycling Systems will work with you to explore a variety of service options that can deal with your hazardous and non-hazardous waste in the most economical way possible. Solvent Recycling Systems can also recycle 98% of spent solvent using state-of-the-art solvent recycling equipment. Visit or see a complete listing of the solvent waste recyclables for more details.


Solvent Recycling Systems, LLC