Dangerous waste basics

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Businesses that generate any amount of dangerous waste are responsible for this waste from cradle to grave. In Washington state, the Dangerous Waste Regulations determine what dangerous waste is, and how businesses should properly handle and dispose of it.

For most businesses, the process will involve these basic steps:

This page offers some introductory videos, publications, and posters to help you better understand the basics of dangerous waste management.

What is dangerous waste?

Washington state uses the term "dangerous waste" rather than the federal law's term of "hazardous waste." This is because Washington state's Dangerous Waste Regulations are more protective than federal laws. The definition of "dangerous waste" is more expansive than "hazardous waste."

What are the Dangerous Waste Regulations?

The regulations are based on the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), but are more protective. You may find the regulations in the following formats:


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Dangerous waste basics

Learn about dangerous waste, how the amount your business generates affects your generator category (formerly known as generator status), and the rules you must follow. 

Small quantity generators (SQGs) can often follow less stringent rules than other generators.

Click the video or watch Dangerous Waste Basics: A Guide for Small Quantity Generators on YouTube.

How to designate your waste

Businesses must determine whether their waste is dangerous. This video series explains designation and how to properly handle dangerous waste step-by-step.

Click the video or watch Designate Your Waste - Is It Dangerous? on YouTube.

How to manage dangerous waste containers

Dangerous waste containers must be kept closed except when adding or removing waste. Open containers are one of the most common violations our inspectors find.

Click the video or watch Dangerous Waste Containers: An Open and Shut Case on YouTube.

Please note: Some guidance in this video is outdated since we adopted the EPA’s Generator Improvements Rule in 2019. A full list of updated citations is listed on YouTube.

Shoptalk and other publications


Shoptalk, our dangerous waste and pollution prevention newsletter, comes out three times a year. It provides information on training, best practices, rulemaking, and reporting deadlines. We recommend businesses subscribe to Shoptalk for the latest issues and updates.

Guides for businesses

Businesses may find the following publications helpful. This is by no means an exhaustive list of our publications about dangerous waste, but these offer some essential guidance: 


Inspect your dangerous waste drums

This poster provides quick reminders for employees doing routine inspections of dangerous waste containers. Post this near your dangerous waste accumulation area.

Download or request a copy

Spanish version:
Inspeccione sus tambores de desechos peligrosos

Check your central accumulation area

Post these guidelines near your dangerous waste accumulation area. This helps employees verify that all necessary equipment and signs are there.

Download or request a copy

Spanish version:
Revisa sus áreas de acumulación central

Managing Dangerous Laboratory Waste

If your facility has a laboratory, it's a good idea to post these safety, labeling, and storage reminders where lab workers will see them. 

Download or request a copy

Labeling Dangerous Laboratory Waste

Dangerous lab waste must be labeled according to specific requirements. Post these guidelines where dangerous lab waste is generated.

Download or request a copy

Common Environmental Reports for Facilities

This two-sided mini poster (8.5 x 11 in) provides a brief overview of the most common reports, their due dates, and where to find more information.

Download or request a copy or read a plain text version

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