U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Jun 13, 2024

§ 261.1 - Purpose and scope.

(a) This part identifies those solid wastes which are subject to regulation as hazardous wastes under parts 262 through 265, 268, and parts 270, 271, and 124 of this chapter and which are subject to the notification requirements of section 3010 of RCRA. In this part:

(1) Subpart A defines the terms “solid waste” and “hazardous waste”, identifies those wastes which are excluded from regulation under parts 262 through 266, 268, and 270 of this subchapter and establishes special management requirements for hazardous waste which is recycled.

(2) Subpart B sets forth the criteria used by EPA to identify characteristics of hazardous waste and to list particular hazardous wastes.

(3) Subpart C identifies characteristics of hazardous waste.

(4) Subpart D lists particular hazardous wastes.

(b)(1) The definition of solid waste contained in this part applies only to wastes that also are hazardous for purposes of the regulations implementing subtitle C of RCRA. For example, it does not apply to materials (such as non-hazardous scrap, paper, textiles, or rubber) that are not otherwise hazardous wastes and that are recycled.

(2) This part identifies only some of the materials which are solid wastes and hazardous wastes under sections 3007, 3013, and 7003 of RCRA. A material which is not defined as a solid waste in this part, or is not a hazardous waste identified or listed in this part, is still a solid waste and a hazardous waste for purposes of these sections if:

(i) In the case of sections 3007 and 3013, EPA has reason to believe that the material may be a solid waste within the meaning of section 1004(27) of RCRA and a hazardous waste within the meaning of section 1004(5) of RCRA; or

(ii) In the case of section 7003, the statutory elements are established.

(c) For the purposes of §§ 261.2 and 261.6:

(1) A “spent material” is any material that has been used and as a result of contamination can no longer serve the purpose for which it was produced without processing;

(2) “Sludge” has the same meaning used in § 260.10 of this chapter;

(3) A “by-product” is a material that is not one of the primary products of a production process and is not solely or separately produced by the production process. Examples are process residues such as slags or distillation column bottoms. The term does not include a co-product that is produced for the general public's use and is ordinarily used in the form it is produced by the process.

(4) A material is “reclaimed” if it is processed to recover a usable product, or if it is regenerated. Examples are recovery of lead values from spent batteries and regeneration of spent solvents. In addition, for purposes of § 261.4(a)(23) and (24), smelting, melting, and refining furnaces are considered to be solely engaged in metals reclamation if the metal recovery from the hazardous secondary materials meets the same requirements as those specified for metals recovery from hazardous waste found in § 266.100(d)(1) through (3) of this chapter, and if the residuals meet the requirements specified in § 266.112 of this chapter.

(5) A material is “used or reused” if it is either:

(i) Employed as an ingredient (including use as an intermediate) in an industrial process to make a product (for example, distillation bottoms from one process used as feedstock in another process). However, a material will not satisfy this condition if distinct components of the material are recovered as separate end products (as when metals are recovered from metal-containing secondary materials); or

(ii) Employed in a particular function or application as an effective substitute for a commercial product (for example, spent pickle liquor used as phosphorous precipitant and sludge conditioner in wastewater treatment).

(6) “Scrap metal” is bits and pieces of metal parts (e.g., bars, turnings, rods, sheets, wire) or metal pieces that may be combined together with bolts or soldering (e.g., radiators, scrap automobiles, railroad box cars), which when worn or superfluous can be recycled.

(7) A material is “recycled” if it is used, reused, or reclaimed.

(8) A material is “accumulated speculatively” if it is accumulated before being recycled. A material is not accumulated speculatively, however, if the person accumulating it can show that the material is potentially recyclable and has a feasible means of being recycled; and that—during the calendar year (commencing on January 1)—the amount of material that is recycled, or transferred to a different site for recycling, equals at least 75 percent by weight or volume of the amount of that material accumulated at the beginning of the period. Materials must be placed in a storage unit with a label indicating the first date that the material began to be accumulated. If placing a label on the storage unit is not practicable, the accumulation period must be documented through an inventory log or other appropriate method. In calculating the percentage of turnover, the 75 percent requirement is to be applied to each material of the same type (e.g., slags from a single smelting process) that is recycled in the same way (i.e., from which the same material is recovered or that is used in the same way). Materials accumulating in units that would be exempt from regulation under § 261.4(c) are not to be included in making the calculation. Materials that are already defined as solid wastes also are not to be included in making the calculation. Materials are no longer in this category once they are removed from accumulation for recycling, however.

(9) “Excluded scrap metal” is processed scrap metal, unprocessed home scrap metal, and unprocessed prompt scrap metal.

(10) “Processed scrap metal” is scrap metal which has been manually or physically altered to either separate it into distinct materials to enhance economic value or to improve the handling of materials. Processed scrap metal includes, but is not limited to scrap metal which has been baled, shredded, sheared, chopped, crushed, flattened, cut, melted, or separated by metal type (i.e., sorted), and, fines, drosses and related materials which have been agglomerated. (Note: shredded circuit boards being sent for recycling are not considered processed scrap metal. They are covered under the exclusion from the definition of solid waste for shredded circuit boards being recycled (§ 261.4(a)(14)).

(11) “Home scrap metal” is scrap metal as generated by steel mills, foundries, and refineries such as turnings, cuttings, punchings, and borings.

(12) “Prompt scrap metal” is scrap metal as generated by the metal working/fabrication industries and includes such scrap metal as turnings, cuttings, punchings, and borings. Prompt scrap is also known as industrial or new scrap metal.

[45 FR 33119, May 19, 1980, as amended at 48 FR 14293, Apr. 1, 1983; 50 FR 663, Jan. 4, 1985; 51 FR 10174, Mar. 24, 1986; 51 FR 40636, Nov. 7, 1986; 62 FR 26018, May 12, 1997; 73 FR 64760, Oct. 30, 2008; 75 FR 13001, Mar. 18, 2010; 80 FR 1773, Jan. 13, 2015; 81 FR 85806, Nov. 28, 2016; 88 FR 54100, Aug. 9, 2023]