Managing and disposing of hazardous waste

A waste may be hazardous for several reasons. Hazardous wastes may be listed, characteristic, or considered a universal or special hazardous waste.

If your business generates hazardous waste, you must obtain a hazardous waste license and properly dispose of your hazardous waste.

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Disposal companies and VSQG collection programs

The hazardous waste disposal companies fact sheet (PDF) lists businesses in the Twin Cities that dispose of hazardous waste in the following categories:

  • General hazardous waste management
  • Antifreeze
  • Aqueous cleaners/solutions
  • Batteries
  • Circuit boards, computers, telecommunications equipment
  • Containers
  • Fuels - gasoline, fuel oil, fuel and water mixtures
  • Industrial wastewater
  • Laundry facilities
  • Mercury and PCBs
  • Non-hazardous industrial waste
  • Oil
  • Petroleum contaminated soils
  • Pharmaceutical and dual wastes
  • Portable rage centrifuging
  • Silver, precious metal and amalgam recycling services
  • Testing laboratories
  • VSQG collection programs

This list of business hazardous waste disposal companies is provided for information purposes only. This list does not constitute approval of any of the firms identified nor do we claim that the list is complete.

VSQG collection programs

Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs) are allowed to deliver their own waste in their own vehicle to a licensed VSQG collection program. Small businesses, non-profits and other organizations that generate 220 pounds or less of hazardous waste per month are also eligible to participate in this program.

Although program participants pay disposal charges, the programs are intended to provide convenient and cost-effective disposal options. This allows eligible participants to regularly dispose of small quantities of waste rather than accumulate it over a long time period.

For more information on the requirements, list of collection programs and how to manage and store your waste see the VSQG collection programs fact sheet (PDF).

Examples of hazardous waste

Listed hazardous wastes

Listed hazardous wastes are those that appear on one of the four specific lists (F, K, P, or U) found in the Minnesota Hazardous Waste Rules.

  • F list (PDF) - This list includes waste solvents, wastewater treatment sludges and electroplating baths, sludges, and related wastes. Examples of F listed wastes include many paint and lacquer thinners, some types of brake and carburetor cleaners, vapor degreasing and dry cleaning solvents, as well as distillation bottoms.
  • K list (PDF) - This list includes wastes that are the result of a specific industry process such as wood preserving, manufacture of pesticides, explosives, inks, organic or inorganic chemicals and inorganic pigments, petroleum refining, and iron and steel industries.
  • P list (PDF) and U list (PDF) - These lists should be checked if you are disposing of unused or usable chemical products or spill residues. To be P or U listed, the P or U chemical must comprise 100 percent of the waste or be the sole active ingredient.

Characteristic hazardous wastes

Characteristic hazardous wastes (PDF) are those wastes that are not listed as hazardous wastes on one of the specific lists (the F, K, P or U lists) but that exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Ignitability or is an oxidizer
  • Corrosivity
  • Reactivity
  • Lethality or toxicity

Descriptions of each characteristic and examples of some wastes that may have such characteristics are listed below along with the 4 digit hazardous waste code:

  • Ignitable wastes (D001) have flash points of less than 140 degrees Fahrenheit or ignite spontaneously and burn vigorously.
    • The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) will give the flash point of the product. This will likely be close to the flash point of the waste unless the waste is contaminated with materials that have a very low flash point, such as gasoline.
    • Examples: mineral spirits, many petroleum based parts washer solvents, alcohols, etc.
  • Oxidizing wastes (D001) supply oxygen to a fire in the absence of air.
    • An MSDS will usually tell you whether the product is an oxidizer.
    • Examples: oxides, permanganates, nitrates, etc.
  • Corrosive wastes (D002) are liquids with a pH of 2.0 or less, 12.5 or more, or able to corrode steel at a rate greater than one-quarter of an inch per year.
    • An MSDS will often give the pH of the product. Diluting the product prior to use and actual use of the product may change the pH enough so the waste is non-hazardous.
    • Some corrosive wastes may be able to be neutralized and discharged to a sanitary sewer. Check with your wastewater treatment plant operator for details.
    • Examples: strong acids and bases such as battery acid and radiator boil out tanks.
  • Reactive wastes (D003) are wastes that are unstable, react violently or form potentially explosive mixtures when mixed with water, or can produce toxic gases.
    • The reactivity hazard data section of the MSDS may indicate the product is hazardous.
    • Examples: explosives and some cyanide bearing wastes.
  • Lethal wastes (PDF) (MN01) are wastes that can cause severe health effects when ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
    • The health hazard data section of the MSDS may provide information that could help you determine if a waste might be lethal.
    • Examples: some pesticide wastes and wastes containing arsenic.
  • Toxic wastes (D004-D043) are wastes containing hazardous contaminants above the maximum allowable concentration specified in the hazardous waste rules.
    • Examples of hazardous contaminants include heavy metals such as barium, cadmium, chromium, lead and silver, and organics such as benzene, methyl ethyl ketone, and trichloroethylene.
    • Examples of wastes in this category include paint or ink with metal pigments, plating wastes, and photographic fixer.

Universal wastes

Universal wastes (PDF), as defined in Hennepin County's Hazardous Waste Management Ordinance, include the following hazardous wastes:

  • Batteries
  • Pesticides
  • Mercury-containing equipment
  • Lamps

Special hazardous wastes

Special hazardous wastes, as defined in Hennepin County's Hazardous Waste Management Ordinance, include the following hazardous wastes:

  • Photographic and X-ray negatives
  • Electronic waste (PDF), which includes equipment containing circuit boards and/or cathode ray tubes, such as computer and peripherals, telephones and TVs. 

Common wastes by industry

Below is a listing of wastes commonly generated by certain industries and processes. This list does not describe all wastes that may be generated or regulated.

  • Building maintenance - Paints, thinners, solvents, cleaners, PCBs
  • General repair - Solvents, paints, acids, bases, adhesives, oils
  • Laboratory - Reagents, wash-up, reacted chemicals, dated chemicals
  • Metal fabrication - Solvents, sludges, cleaners, paints, acids, caustics
  • Plating - Sludges, cleaners, acids, caustics, cyanides
  • Vehicle maintenance, service and repair - Oils, filters, solvents, paints, thinners

Waste reduction and pollution prevention

Reducing the amount of hazardous waste your business generates and implementing pollution prevention practices can have many benefits, including:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Reduced operation costs (may be after an initial capital expenditure) and possibly reduced license fees
  • Fewer regulations.
  • Reduced liability
  • Preferred vendor status
  • Improved public image

How can my business reduce waste and implement pollution prevention?

There are many things businesses can do to reduce waste and implement pollution prevention practices. Consider changing policies and procedures, or look at using different equipment, materials and products.

Where can my business get assistance?

There are many resources available to help you with pollution prevention activities.

Hazardous waste inspectors

The hazardous waste inspector who visits your company can provide you with information. Be sure to ask them any questions you have about waste reduction and pollution prevention.

Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP)

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) provides free, non-regulatory pollution prevention and energy efficiency services to Minnesota businesses. By proving information and assistance, MnTAP helps businesses maximize resource efficiency, prevent pollution, reduce energy use, reduce costs, maintain a safe and healthy work environment for employees, and comply with environmental regulations. 

MnTAP provides free technical assistance tailored to your business with no regulatory responsibilities or obligations.

Some of the services MnTap can provide your company include:

Other resources

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency-Pollution Prevention, 651-296-6300

Minnesota Waste Wise, 651-292-4650

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