The most important regulation governing hazardous waste is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), whose primary goals are “to protect human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal, to conserve energy and natural resources, to reduce the amount of waste generated, and to ensure that wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner.” The basic tenet of this regulation is a “cradle-to-grave” tracking system, meaning that hazardous waste generators (users of hazardous materials who generate hazardous waste) must track waste from the moment it enters the site as a hazardous material to the eventual treatment or disposal of that material. This regulation requires hazardous waste generators to bear the responsibility of dealing with hazardous materials in a responsible way. Interesting to note is that the responsibility of hazardous waste may go beyond the grave, making the waste generator responsible for the waste handler’s actions. Thus, if the handler does a poor job and pollutes the environment, the generator will be (in part) responsible for cleanup.
* Some waste hauler’s claim to cover your cradle-to-grave responsibility when the fact is they can’t, cover your liability. The EPA, DNR and other environmental companies will come straight to you as the waste generator. If your waste hauler tells you they cover your liability, ask them why they still need to put your name and information on every barrel they haul.