Regulations for Hazardous Waste Generated at Academic Laboratories
Alternative Requirements for Eligible Academic Entities
EPA developed regulations intended to help improve the environmental performance of teaching and research laboratories owned by eligible academic entities that are:
- Large quantity generators (LQG)
- Small quantity generators (SQG)
- Very small quantity generators (VSQG)
These regulations are found in hazardous waste generator section in subpart K of part 262 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and are applicable to eligible academic entities, which are:
- colleges and universities, and
- teaching hospitals and nonprofit research institutes that are either owned by or formally affiliated with a college or university.
Subpart K provides standards for managing hazardous waste in academic laboratories at eligible academic entities as an alternative to the satellite accumulation area generator regulations. Subpart K protects public health and the environment by presenting alternative generator requirements better suited to the specific circumstances of teaching and research laboratories. The provisions of subpart K include:
- Requiring hazardous waste determinations to be made by trained professionals, rather than students.
- Requiring hazardous waste to be removed from the laboratory every twelve months.
- Allowing eligible academic entities the flexibility to decide when and where on-site hazardous waste determinations are made.
- Offering incentives for removing from the laboratories old and expired chemicals that may pose risks.
- Requiring the development of a Laboratory Management Plan, in which entities specify best waste management practices
The requirements found in subpart K are optional. Colleges and universities and other eligible academic entities formally affiliated with a college or university have the choice of managing their hazardous wastes in accordance with subpart K or remaining subject to the existing generator regulations as described in the next section.
Information for Laboratories Not Operating Under the Alternative Requirements for Academic Laboratories
In some cases, eligible academic entities may choose not to follow the standards set up in 40 CFR, part 262, subpart K, which establishes alternative generator regulations for the management of hazardous waste at their laboratories. In other cases, laboratories that generate hazardous waste are not owned by eligible academic entities and therefore are not eligible to participate in subpart K.
In both situations, these laboratories will most likely operate under the RCRA regulations as satellite accumulation areas. The satellite accumulation provisions allow generators to accumulate up to 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or one quart of acute hazardous waste) in containers that are:
- at or near any point or generation, and
- under the control of the operator.
Additionally, laboratories accumulating waste in satellite areas must comply with the requirements outlined in 40 CFR §262.15 including those for containers and accumulation time frames.
- Memo from EPA Headquarters to EPA Regional offices re: who may make a hazardous waste identification, and the regulatory status of on-site treatment of hazardous waste, in academic institutions that generate hazardous waste in labs (PDF) (4 pp, 19 K, About PDF)
- Memo from EPA Headquarters to EPA Regional offices presenting answers to frequent questions about satellite accumulation areas (PDF) (10 pp, 73K, About PDF)