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5 Things To Know About Hazardous Waste Labels

5 Things To Know About Hazardous Waste Labels

For companies that generate hazardous waste, using hazardous waste labels is critical to ensuring all state and federal regulations are met. When hazardous waste generators simply revert to placing any label on a waste container or drum, they risk facing heavy fines. Not to mention the safety of their employees. 

Regulatory agencies such as the DTSC, CUPA, EPA, AND DOT govern the proper labeling, marking, and placarding of hazardous waste containers. Ultimately, overseeing the generation, disposal, and transportation of hazardous waste.

To avoid receiving non-conformance violations from these regulatory agencies, generators must know about properly labeling hazardous waste. This is regardless of the hazardous waste category,

Hazardous waste labels help businesses categorize and sort waste to avoid toxic exposure and prevent accidents.

Here are five things you should know about hazardous waste labeling.


Hazardous waste is anything that can cause significant harm to the environment or the people who come into contact with it. Even something as harmless as a lightbulb can become dangerous when it's thrown into the trash and breaks open. 

Non-hazardous waste is everything else. However, a business has to label its non-hazardous waste if it often deals with normal hazardous waste. It's legally required and helps avoid any mistakes in storage or transportation. 

At a minimum, the label should state that a container has non-hazardous waste. You should also include information on the shipper, address, and contents. The label may also state that it is against the law to put anything hazardous inside the container. 

The non-hazardous waste is then disposed of as normal trash or recycling. You can use your own trash receptacles, take them to a disposal facility, or hire a disposal company.


Hazardous waste isn't disposed of altogether, nor is it legal to put it all in a single container. Everything must have its own specific container, and each container needs appropriate labels. 

Some of the various hazardous waste labels include: 

  • Explosives

  • Gasses

  • Flammable liquids

  • Flammable solids

  • Oxidizers and organic peroxides

  • Poisons

  • Infectious Substances

  • Radioactive

  • Corrosive

  • Miscellaneous

These labels are added to containers in addition to hazardous waste markings. They're diamond shaped and come in two main sizes. Labels are 4" x 4" while placards are 10.75" x 10.75". 

Your company may make use of various different labels if you regularly dispose of certain groups of hazardous waste. For example, a medical facility will often deal with both bio-hazardous waste as well as liquids like sodium hydroxide. Biohazards are considered infectious substances, while sodium hydroxide is corrosive waste.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has its own standards on how to label hazardous waste and what gets labeled. 

Any waste container that is 119 gallons or less must be properly labeled. Most standard waste containers are 55-gallon drums. Anything 119 gallons or under is considered non-bulk packaging. 

If you're grouping together multiple goods or containers onto a single pallet, each individual item must be labeled separately. The pallet does not need a label, however. 

The label itself requires certain information.

First, it needs to state that the contained waste is hazardous and a description of the waste. This includes the composition of the waste, its physical state, and its hazardous properties. 

Second, you'll need to list the generator's name, address, and the generator's EPA ID#. The number is nine digits long and begins with three letters representing your state. In California, the letters are CAL. 

Finally, your container needs a manifest tracking number. Failure to include this number is a common violation that you can easily avoid. 

Your business may or may not need to include an accumulation date stating when you first started using the container. By law, you can only hold waste on your site for a limited amount of time. This information holds you accountable. 


The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) considers markings different from labels. A DOT label is a diamond-shaped placard that is easily readable and groups the hazardous materials into categories. As previously mentioned, these include corrosive, flammable, and other hazardous materials. 

In addition to the hazardous waste label, you must also apply a marking. Marking should be durable, easy to read, and in English. 

Like with the EPA, a marking should state that it contains hazardous waste as well as a description of the waste. You also need to include the generator's name and address, as well as the manifest document number. 

Depending on the material and situation, you may require a United Nations substance number or North American identification number. A technical name is also required for non-bulk packaging. 

Duplicate labels are required if a package's volume exceeds 480 gallons or contains radioactive substances. 


You can't just pick any container to label hazardous waste. A hazardous waste label will only be accepted if it's on something that meets the requirements. 

Hazardous waste containers and their lids must be made of materials compatible with whatever they contain. If you're storing corrosive liquids, it has to be able to safely hold it. Generators that deal in radioactive waste need specialized containers for both legal and safety reasons. 

Containers that are not accepted include food service containers or anything with a leak. The lids should screw shut or have some other design for a tight fit. You also want to use materials that are non-flammable or can get easily damaged or punctured. 



As a generator, it's your responsibility to get the right hazardous waste labels for your containers. You can find pre-made ones online or make your own, as long as they meet the EPA and DOT requirements. However, you may need to hire someone to take it all away if you deal with a lot of waste.

HCI Environmental provides all the services for your disposal needs. We cover waste transportation, disposal, and emergency chemical spills. Take a look at our services online and contact us with any questions.