As you finalize your business plans and secure proper permits and licensing, it’s important to consider your company’s environmental impact. If you use or dispose of chemical or hazardous waste, then you might need to fill out a request for another permit.

There are both state and federal regulations on hazardous waste. When companies don’t comply to specific laws and methods of disposal, they can face hefty lawsuits. Understanding what materials indeed hazardous waste and the federal law surrounding it can help you determine if you need a permit to conduct your business.

What is hazardous waste?

California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), definition of hazardous waste says any waste that contains properties that could negatively impact the health of people or the environment hazardous. This includes liquids, gases and solids that are either unused or by-products of a manufacturing process.

Specifically, waste is hazardous if it has any of the following qualities:

  • Toxic: Waste that is toxic can cause danger or death if it touches one’s skin or someone ingests it. Some common examples include mercury and lead.
  • Corrosive: Corrosive waste has acidic properties that can break down metal, like battery acid.
  • Reactive: Waste that is reactive is typically explosive in average indoor and outdoor conditions, one obvious example is any discarded explosives.
  • Ignitable: Ignitable waste is basically anything that is flammable, like oil or solvents.

What does the law say?

To comply with federal law or specifically, the Resource Conversation Recovery Act, California residents or business owners who use, treat or throw out hazardous waste need to apply for a permit or DTSC authorization.

You don’t have to wait for a lawsuit to contact legal aid. Rather, an environmental law attorney can help you fill out paperwork and create legally sound protocol for your employees or contractors to follow to store or dispose of any harmful waste your company produces.