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Recycling has gained in popularity over the last decade. Businesses, hospitals, and schools have receptacles to recycle and store waste materials such as bottles, soda cans, and computer papers. The "Green Movement" gained social traction in the last few years, and recycling improper hazardous waste disposal is now a part of everyday life.

The Environmental Protection Agency defines recycling as the collection and processing of materials, which are otherwise thrown in the trash. These materials can then be turned into new products. Recycling hazardous waste is an area many businesses overlook when it comes to their hazardous waste programs. Some chemicals, substances, or by-products are hazardous waste materials and can be successfully recycled. Recycling these substances rather than simply eliminating them from waste streams can result in significant savings for companies and lower compliance requirements. These are some important things to think about.

Recycling Examples

Many waste streams are reclaimable and can be converted into products. A solvent recycling plant, for example can refine or distill a waste product and then sell it to be reused. Fuel-blending units accept flammable materials, combine them to exact specifications, then sell this mixture for use in cement kilns and incinerators. Oil recycling plants clean the used oil and then resell it. Some facilities also recycle fluorescent light bulbs and valuable metals.


The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 1976 (RCRA), which governs the operations of Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities, grants permits to operate these facilities. TSDFs can be found in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors and are highly regulated by the EPA. They perform many functions as their name would suggest. However, one function that is most important to them is the recycling of wastes. Before companies can benefit from recycling hazardous waste, they must have the waste streams approved by a TSDS. To determine if substances are recyclable, samples are sent to a TSDS.

Material Excluded

These waste streams, once a TSDF has assessed a substance for its recycling suitability and made a determination about it, can then be reclassified under "excluded Materials." These waste streams can then be exempted from classifications of hazardous waste and/or standards for hazardous waste management. The distinction is crucial, since the substances in question are not included anymore in monthly waste measurements. Many companies will see a shift in their status as a waste generator from large to small (more hazardous than 1,000 kilograms per month). A change of status can lead to significant cost savings and a reduction in EPA requirements.

It is obvious that specialization knowledge will be required. For more information it's best to speak to a licensed and qualified hazardous waste company. It is possible for businesses to find ways of recycling their current waste streams. Companies that are qualified and have experience with different substances will know if their waste stream qualifies for this type.