A critical step in the safe handling of hazardous waste is labeling and marking all containers appropriately. To help ensure uniformity in the labeling and marking of containers used for hazardous waste, both the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offer specific regulatory guidance for hazardous waste generators to follow. It is important to note that these requirements are different from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard, 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.1200, which offers labeling guidance for hazardous materials that have not been
designated as waste.
The DOT hazardous waste labeling and marking requirements are different based
on the size of the container. Per 49 CFR 171.8, packaging means a receptacle and
any other components or materials necessary for the receptacle to perform
its containment function.
Non-bulk packaging is defined as packaging that has:
Under 49 CFR 171.8, a bulk package is defined as a packaging, other than a vessel or a barge, including a transport vehicle or freight container, in which hazardous materials are loaded with no intermediate form of containment. Bulk packaging is also defined as large packaging in which hazardous materials are loaded with an intermediate form of containment, such as one or more articles or inner packagings. Additionally, a bulk package has:
While the DOT guidelines for properly labeling and marking non-bulk and bulk containers
are similar, they are not the same. This document outlines the rules for
The DOT reference to a label is very specific. Labels are the diamond-shaped labels placed on non-bulk containers and resemble bulk container placards. Everything else on a non-bulk package is a marking.
The design and size of labels are based on international standards and are used to identify the hazards within the container. Each diamond (square-on-point) label measures at least 100mm (4" x 4") on each side as prescribed in 49 CFR 172.407(c)(1).
DOT Hazardous Waste Label Examples:
The proper placement of labels is important. Labels must be printed on or affixed to a surface (other than the bottom) of the package and located on the same surface of the package and near the markings, if the package dimensions are adequate.
When primary and subsidiary hazard labels are required, they must be displayed next to each other. The DOT recommends a six-inch space (150mm) between labels.
Whenever hazardous material packages are overpacked, the inner containers must be properly labeled in accordance with DOT shipping requirements for the hazardous material. The same applies to the overpack container.
Marking is a critical process in preparing hazardous materials for transportation. A marking on a hazardous materials package contains important information about the identification and dangers posed by the hazardous material. While there is no standardized hazardous waste marking format, both the DOT and EPA have specific requirements.
According to 49 CFR 172.304 markings must:
Whenever hazardous material packages are overpacked, the inner containers and the overpack container must be properly marked in accordance with DOT shipping requirements for the hazardous material.
49 CFR 172.301 identifies the general DOT marking requirements for a non-bulk package:
Along with the hazardous waste marking requirements, there may be additional markings that are required. For example:
This marking is the package-orientation marking. It is applied to any package that holds inner containers of liquid hazardous materials. Inner packaging may be non-specification containers made of glass or earthenware, plastic or metal.
All packages having inner packages containing liquid hazardous materials must be packed with their closures upward and legibly marked with package-orientation arrows on two opposite vertical sides and with the arrows pointing in the correct upright direction. Arrows for purposes other than indicating proper package orientation may not be displayed on a package containing a liquid hazardous material.
The EPA, under 40 CFR 262.32, requires certain information to be marked on containers of 119 gal. or less used in transportation. This information is listed below:
This date is determined by the generator. It is the date that the generator first placed a hazardous waste inside the package. As addressed in 40 CFR 262.34, there are time limits related to the amount of time a generator can accumulate hazardous waste at its site. Consequently, this date is very important.
In order for a hazardous material to be classified as a waste, it must carry an EPA waste number. Waste numbers provide more information regarding the specific hazards associated with the waste. For more information on identifying the proper waste number, refer to 40 CFR 261.
In addition to the federal marking requirements, there may also be state or local requirements that apply. Contact your state EPA officials to find out if there are any additional requirements that you need to meet.
Q: How do you go about obtaining an EPA Identification Number?
A: Federal regulations require large and small quantity generators of hazardous waste to obtain an EPA Identification (EPA ID) number using EPA Form 8700-12 and to submit the completed form to the authorized state agency or EPA regional office if the state is not authorized to implement the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Subtitle C program. The Site Identification Form (EPA Form 8700-12) includes information such as:
• Facility’s name and address,
• Contact information, and
• A description of hazardous waste activities conducted at the site
Hazardous Waste Generator Regulations: A User-Friendly Reference Document
49 CFR 172.101 Subpart B, Purpose and use of hazardous materials table and Table of Hazardous Materials
49 CFR Subchapter C – Hazardous Materials Regulations, Parts 171-177
49 CFR 172.300 Subpart D, Marking and Applicability
49 CFR 172.400 Subpart E, Labeling
49 CFR 172.400(b) General Labeling Requirements Table
49 CFR 172.402 Additional Labeling Requirements
49 CFR 173 Definitions, Classifications, Packing Group Assignments and Exceptions for Hazardous Materials Class 1 and Class 7
40 CFR 260-262 Hazardous Waste Management System General, Identification and Listing of Hazardous Waste and Standards Applicable to Generators of Hazardous Waste
Quick Tips #155: Performance-Oriented Packaging Standard
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.
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