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EPA/RCRA Generator Improvements Rule


In May of 2017, the federal Generator Improvements Rule became effective.  This was one of the more sweeping changes to the federal hazardous waste regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in quite some time.  Although these federal changes became effective in 2017, they will only become enforceable in a state that has a federally approved hazardous waste program when the states adopt the Rule.  Currently, all states except Iowa and Alaska have such programs. In addition, the GIR incorporates provisions that are considered both more and less stringent than the previous regulations governing generators; states are required to adopt the more stringent provisions, however, they have the option to adopt or to not adopt those less stringent provisions.

The State of Illinois adopted the full GIR in November of 2018; it became effective on November 19th.  As far as other neighboring states, as mentioned Iowa does not have an approved hazardous waste program, so the GIR became effective there in May of 2017.  Currently, of the other states that border Illinois, only Kentucky has adopted the GIR; however, the statutory deadline for states to adopt at least those more stringent provisions of the rule is approaching quickly.  You can monitor the progress of which states have adopted the GIR on the U.S. EPA webpage.

So what is in the GIR, and how may it affect you?  First, the GIR consolidated all of the requirements applicable to any generator of hazardous waste into one section (Part 262) of the federal regulations.  It also provided clarification on a number of issues.  

From a more practical standpoint, however, here are a listing of some of the more stringent provisions that you should be aware of:

  • Applicable to both small and large quantity generators (SQGs and LQGs), in addition to existing labeling requirements all containers and tanks use to accumulate hazardous waste must be labeled with a "hazard descriptor" (including containers in satellite accumulation areas).

  • Also applicable to both SQGs and LQGs, you must prepare a written waste determination for each hazardous waste stream that you generate.  Generators have always been required to make accurate waste determinations for their waste, now a written document must be prepared.  Note, this is in addition to the waste profile forms that have been in use in the industry for years. There is specific information and questions that the generator must address in preparing these documents; and your determinations must identify ALL waste codes applicable to that waste stream.

  • Prior to shipment off-site, the shipping label on any container must list All of the waste codes that your waste determination has identified for that waste.

  • If you are a large quantity generator, when you stop using a particular location at your facility as a central accumulation area (also called a 90-day accumulation area), you must now take that location through RCRA Closure.  A somewhat onerous process, you do have the option of conducting closure when you stop using the location or when you close your entire facility.  But take warning, this requirement has the potential of opening your facility up to RCRA Corrective Action!

There are some welcome changes in the GIR however, but again these less stringent provisions must be adopted by your state for them to be available to you:


  • A very small quantity generator (these were previously called conditionally exempt small quantity generators) can now ship their waste to an LQG that is under "same person control".  This will allow companies to consolidate their wastes at a central location to provide some costs savings on transport and disposal.

  • The GIR now contains provisions for episodic generation of hazardous waste.  Episodic generation is when a VSQG or SQG has either a planned or unplanned event which results in their monthly generation of waste to jump to a higher generator level (e.g., from a VSQG to an SQG or LQG).  These new provisions allow an episodic generator to manage the wastes associated with such an event without the need to meet all the regulatory requirements associated with that higher generator status.

​For more information, contact Bob Anderson at or 630-654-2550 to see how this new improved rule affects your operations.

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