Some Hazardous Waste Terms to Remember


The world of hazardous materials and hazardous waste disposal uses many terms that can be complicated.  This is a glossary of many of the most common organizations and terms to help make sense of things.



Center for Disease Control


Department of Energy


Department of Transportation


Environmental Protection Agency


Food and Drug Administration


National Institute of Health


Nuclear Regulatory Commission


Occupational Safety and Health Administration.



Acute Hazardous Waste:

A subset of hazardous waste determined to pose a greater risk to human health and the environment.

Characteristic Waste:

Waste that is considered hazardous because it exhibits any four different properties: ignitable, corrosive, reactive, and toxic.

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR):

The codification of the general and permanent rules and regulations published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government.


Repository used to accumulate waste from residential, commercial and industrial sites. Containers can vary in size and type according to the needs of the business or restrictions of the community.

Corrective Action Program:

A RCRA program that oversees the investigation and cleanup of nearly 4,000 hazardous waste sites across the country.  It is run by the EPA and 43 authorized states and territories, alongside responsible facilities.


Harmful or destructive; deleterious

Hazardous Waste Generators:

Any business or individual whose act or practice creates or produces hazardous waste.  Typically listed as either a Large Quantity Generator (LQG), or Small Quantity Generator (SQG).

Hazardous Material:

A substance or product that is dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment.

Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER):

Refers to many types of hazardous waste operations and emergency services.

Hazardous Waste:

Describes a solid waste that exhibits a distinct hazardous characteristic, or is otherwise listed as a hazardous waste in federal or state regulations.


The quality of being burnable, or capable of burning.

Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA):

Refers to the technique used to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life from cradle to grave.


Liquid that, in the course of passing through matter, extracts soluble or suspended solids, or any other component of the material through which it has passed.

Listed Waste:

Wastes determined by the EPA to be hazardous. These wastes are incorporated into lists published by the Agency. These lists are organized into three categories:

  • F-list (non-specific source wastes). This list identifies wastes from common manufacturing and industrial processes, such as solvents that have been used in cleaning or degreasing operations. Because the processes producing these wastes can occur in different sectors of industry, the F-listed wastes are known as wastes from non-specific sources. Wastes included on the F-list can be found in the regulations at 40 CFR §261.31 .
  • K-list (source-specific wastes). This list includes certain wastes from specific industries, such as petroleum refining or pesticide manufacturing. Certain sludges and wastewaters from treatment and production processes in these industries are examples of source-specific wastes. Wastes included on the K-list can be found in the regulations at 40 CFR §261.32 .
  • P-list and the U-list (discarded commercial chemical products). These lists include specific commercial chemical products in an unused form. Some pesticides and some pharmaceutical products become hazardous waste when discarded. Wastes included on the P- and U-lists can be found in the regulations at 40 CFR §261.33 .

Medical Waste:

All waste materials generated at health care facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, dental practices, blood banks, and veterinary hospitals/clinics, as well as medical research facilities and laboratories

Mixed Waste (MW):

Contains both hazardous waste (as defined by RCRA and its amendments) and radioactive waste (as defined by AEA and its amendments).


Tending to change into something else when mixed with another substance


The process of converting waste into reusable material.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA):

Refers to the federal statute in the United States that governs the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste, enacted in 1976.

Solid Waste:

A material (solid, liquid or gas) that has been disposed of.  Management of solid wastes is subject to federal regulations, but are typically regulated at the state or local level.

Spent Materials:

Any material that has been used and, as a result of contamination, can no longer serve the purpose for which it was produced without undergoing regeneration, reclamation, or reprocessing.  This includes spent solvents, spent activated carbon, spent catalysts, and spent acids.


The degree to which something is poisonous.

Treatability Group:

Describes the grouping of hazardous wastes that can be treated to similar concentrations using identical technologies.

Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSD):

Facilities engaged in the treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous waste.

Universal Waste:

Category of waste materials designated as “hazardous waste”, but containing materials that are very common, such as batteries, pesticides, bulbs, and mercury-containing equipment.

Waste Analysis Plan (WAP):

Refers to any plan that outlines the necessary procedures to ensure proper treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous waste.

Waste Stream:

Cumulative flow of waste material from generation to treatment to final disposition.

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