Hazardous waste management involves complex rules and regulations that can change from time to time. The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), passed in 1976, was established to set up a framework for the proper hazardous waste management. Simply defined, a hazardous waste is a waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment. Hazardous waste is produced from many sources, ranging from industrial manufacturing process wastes to batteries. Hazardous waste may come in many forms, including liquids, solids, gases and sludges. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a regulatory definition and process that identifies specific substances known to be hazardous. EPA also provides objective criteria for including other materials in the regulated hazardous waste universe.

In Missouri, we follow these same principals and incorporate most of these same regulations by reference in our state regulations, but there are a few specific differences. We may not have incorporated the most recent updates due to the rulemaking process, so it is also important to check the state regulations for differences. For information about proposed rule changes, visit Regulatory Action Tracking System

Both state and federal environmental laws regulate hazardous waste from "cradle-to-grave." This means hazardous waste is tracked and regulated from the time it is created "cradle," until it is recycled, treated or disposed "grave," including when it is transported and stored. For information about underground storage tank compliance, visit Underground Storage Tank RequirementsThe environmentally sound management of hazardous waste helps protect human health and the environment.


Under RCRA, hazardous waste generators are businesses that produce or "create" hazardous waste. Generators are required to fully document that the hazardous waste they produce is properly identified, managed and treated before recycling or disposal. The degree of regulation that applies to a generator depends on the amount of waste the generator produces.

Within the following links, you will be able to find information regarding hazardous waste generation and management.

Universal Waste

Universal waste, including batteries, pesticides, fluorescent bulbs and other mercury-containing light bulbs

Universal Waste Regulations (UWR) are an alternate set of regulations for managing hazardous wastes that are produce by a large portion of the regulated community and are typically easier to manage safely. These regulations allow for streamlined management as well as easing the regulatory burden on facilities. There are UWR requirements for generators, transporters and facilities that receive universal wastes. While this is an optional management standard that is often easier than management under regular hazardous waste regulations, these same wastes may also be managed under those regulations.

Universal wastes currently include:

  • Batteries
  • Pesticides
  • Mercury-Containing Equipment
  • Lamps

While EPA has finalized regulations to include aerosol cans as a universal waste, Missouri is still evaluating this set of regulations and has not incorporated them by reference. Until that time, aerosol cans will need to continue to be managed as “regular” hazardous waste.

Within the following links, you will be able to find information regarding universal waste management.

Other Waste

To make rules easier to understand, facilitate better compliance and allow some flexibility while still adequately protecting human health and the environment, EPA created alternative management standards, exclusions and exemptions for certain types of wastes. Missouri has incorporated, or is working to incorporate, the alternative management standards, exclusions and exemptions EPA has created into the state regulations. For more information about rules incorporated and those that EPA has recently promulgated that the department is evaluating, visit the regulations tab above. These rules include the Generator Improvements Rules, Pharmaceutical Rules, Airbag Rule and Aerosol Can Rule.

Within the following links, you will be able to find information about the certain types of wastes EPA has created alternative management standards, exclusions and exemptions. For information about disposing some of these items by households, visit household hazardous waste.

Miscellaneous Waste

Used Oil


There is a complex network of rules and regulations that structure the regulatory obligations under RCRA. For general information about federal and state laws and regulations the department operates under, visit Laws, Rules and Regulations

Federal Rule Changes

EPA rulemakings (i.e., regulations that are under development) could impact Missouri once they become final regulations. EPA provides an opportunity for the public to provide input on almost every regulation before it is finalized. For more information on federal rules in development, visit EPA's Track EPA Rulemakings webpage.

State Rule Changes

Summaries and other information related to state rules currently in some stage of the rule development process, either in initial development, formal rulemaking process or adopted and in effect, are available in the department's Regulatory Action Tracking System. Each rule or group of rules goes through a process where interested parties are able to provide comments on the proposed rules. These rules will not go into effect until the public has had an opportunity to submit written comments, and to attend a public hearing if one is scheduled. Please pay attention to the dates for the comment period and provide comments in the time frames indicated. Comments and responses on proposed rules are published in the Order of Rulemaking for individual rules.

Additional Resources