Definition of Solid Waste (DSW): Before a material can be classified as a hazardous waste, it must first be a solid waste as defined under RCRA. Resources, including an interactive tool, are available to help.USA EPA has an interesting interactive tool on its hazardous waste page which helps define how an object (such as a CRT television) can fail TCLP tests, yet not necessarily be considered either a hazardous or universal waste.
What does the EPA tool do? First, it helps you narrow the definition of "discard" according to what is about to happen to the material (speculative accumulation, storage, resale, refining, etc.) Before something can be a hazardous WASTE, it must be waste. This does not mean that a toxin in a computer is not regulated while the computer is in use (as originally intended)... But those materials are regulated by OSHA and by DMV, not by RCRA, until or unless is it discarded or released into the environment. EPA governs release of the material into the environment. A certain amount of preventative measures can be required if something is "waste-like", and "discarding" is not always cut and dried. But if an item changes hands, and nothing is released into the environment, EPA needs to justify the concern over release, not simply define changing ownership as disposal.
Here is EPA's page on TCLP, the toxicity test for leachate in landfills. EPA's online tool explains that failing TCLP is necessary, but not sufficient, to make something "universal waste". Original use (sale of the item) is certainly not disposal, and reuse isn't either. Even recycling as a feedstock back into the same material (like glass to glass recycling) is not disposal unless part of the material is released into the environment (under international law, that is what Annex III is for, and if there is no release then Annex IX materials - including printed circuit boards and CRTs - are defined NOT to be waste under the Basel Convention).
The online tool is a software decision tree, which allows you to select and respond to each question and be directed to the next question. It's nifty. Using the tool as a basis for regulation of "ewaste" (so called) can help regulators create worksheets and primers for the regulated community. Simply taking an entire group of products and giving them a label of "waste" will have unintended (bad) consequences, for environmental costs, regulator compliance, and most of all, for the waste hierarchy.
Definition of Solid Waste Process Flowchart
Here is sample language copied from the EPA Online "waste classification" program:
Is your material a solid waste even when recycled?
This material generally is not a solid waste. However, materials are solid wastes, even if the recycling involves use, reuse, or return to the original process if the materials are inherently waste-like; used in a manner constituting disposal; burned for energy recovery, used to produce a fuel, or contained in fuels; or, accumulated speculatively.
Do any of the above apply to your material?
Please select an answer:
- If YES, please select one or more of the applicable activities shown below, then click “continue” to view the detailed results.
- If NO, view the detailed results.
Not sure what this question is asking?