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Understanding Different Types of Hazardous Waste: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Jan 29

Understanding Hazardous Waste

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Let's face it, dealing with waste isn't exactly a picnic.

And when you add the word 'hazardous' in front of it–things can get complicated very quickly.

It's complex, confusing, and if you're not careful, you could end up with a mess on your hands. But don't stress! We've got your back.

We've sifted through the jargon, untangled the regulations, and put together this comprehensive guide to help you get a handle on hazardous waste management.

But before we jump into the deep end, let's get our feet wet with the basics.

What's 'Hazardous Waste'?

Sounds scary, right? And can be.

It's like the villain in a superhero movie that poses a serious, even potentially catastrophic threat to the health of us good folks and our beautiful environment.

We're talking about those substances that could give Mother Nature a real headache if they're not handled correctly.

And where does it come from?

Hazardous waste could be something as simple as aerosol containers or as complex as lab packs with a variety of chemicals generated from research processes. Whether you generate hazardous waste in a healthcare, manufacturing or industrial setting, you need to know how to properly package and document the hazardous waste you generate.

What are the 9 classes of Hazardous Waste?

Know the 9 Classes of Hazardous Waste

What is the best waste to identify hazardous waste at your facility?

EPA's Hazardous Waste Classification

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, they fall into three main categories: listed, characteristic, and mixed radiological waste. But let's break it down even further.


These wastes are most common from manufacturing or industrial processes. They include specific industrial substances, discarded commercial chemical products, and more.


These guys are a bit more subtle, but don't be fooled–they're just as dangerous. They're known for their harmful properties like:

Ignitability: Liquids with flashpoints below 60 degrees C, non liquids that cause fire through specific conditions or ignitable compressed gasses and oxidizers.

Corrosivity: Include aqueous wastes with a pH of less than or equal to 2, a pH greater than or equal to 12.5 or the liquids ability to corrode steel.

Reactivity: Waste may be unstable under normal conditions, may react with water, may give off toxic gasses and may be capable of detonation or explosion.

Toxicity: Wastes that are very harmful and even fatal when ingested or absorbed.

Mixed Radiological

These waste streams are regulated under RCRA and the Atomic Energy Act

So, when dealing with these, you'll want to bring in the pros.


They might sound all-inclusive and friendly, but don't be fooled!

They are widely generated toxic debris in your everyday items. Like your batteries that have run out of juice, pesticides that have done their job, and even equipment containing mercury that's past its prime (light bulbs and ballasts).

While they might seem harmless enough, they can cause serious danger if not disposed of properly.

Do's and Don'ts

When dealing with these hazardous waste streams, it's very important to follow all relevant regulations. Bodies like the DNREC and the National Waste Recycling Association – Healthcare Waste Institute offer guidelines and resources to help ensure safe and legal disposal.

Here are some general tips:

Ensuring Safety in Waste Disposal

  • DO segregate.

  • DON'T mix them with non-hazardous trash.

  • DO store them in suitable, labeled containers.

  • DON'T just dispose of them with regular trash.

  • DO use licensed carriers for transportation.

Need a Hand? The Pros are Just a Call Away!

Alright, we've thrown a lot of info your way and if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed, that's totally normal. This is no walk in the park, after all.

But here's the good news: You Don't Have To Do It ALONE.

Here at Choice MedWaste, we eat, sleep, and breathe all things waste (metaphorically, of course). We're like the superheroes of toxic waste management, ready to swoop in and save your day.

So why not give yourself a break?

Contact Us and let us do the heavy lifting for you!

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