When you visualize an empty container, you might imagine a barrel or box with nothing in it. That’s a perfectly fair depiction, and would likely be accurate in most cases. But if that container was used to hold hazardous materials, it’s no longer that simple. When these kinds of materials are involved, “empty” doesn’t carry the same meaning.
Understanding the difference between “Empty” and “RCRA-Empty” is worth your time, as hazardous containers that are defined as “RCRA-Empty” are not subject to EPA regulation even when residue remains.
There are two separate sets of conditions, one that applies to non-acute hazardous wastes, and one that applies to containers that once held acute hazardous wastes.
- According to RCRA, a container or inner liner removed from a container that held a non-acute hazardous waste is empty if:
- All wastes have been removed that can be removed using ‘commonly employed practices’ from that type of container, and
- No more than 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) of residue remains on the bottom of the container or liner, or
- No more than 3 percent by weight of the total capacity of the container remains if the container is less than or equal to 110 gallons in size, or
- No more than 0.3 percent by weight of the total capacity of the container remains if the container is greater than 110 gallons in size.
A container or inner liner removed from a container that held an acute hazardous waste is empty if:
- The container is triple rinsed with a solvent capable of removing the acute waste, or
- The container has been cleaned by another method that has been shown in the scientific literature, or by tests conducted by the generator, to achieve equivalent removal, or
- The inner liner that prevented contact between the acute waste and the container is removed.
Of course, it’s always wise to check RCRA 40CFR and your state regulations for the most up-to-date information. Hazardous Waste Experts can also advise you on your specific hazardous waste disposal situation, and that includes differentiating between empty and RCRA-empty. For further assistance, contact Hazardous Waste Experts today at 800-936-2311 to speak with an expert or click here to email us.