Hazardous and Solid Waste

If Your Employees Vape at Work, How Do You Handle the E-Cigarette Waste Stream?

If your employees are vaping at work, you may wonder what your facility’s obligation is for managing the e-cigarette waste even if your company isn’t a retailer or manufacturer of e-cigarettes. Is there any federal or state agency guidance on how to manage this waste stream? Experts at Enviro.BLR.com® were recently asked this question—read on for their answer.

Vaping, e-cigarettes

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Answer: Despite extensive research, we are not aware of any federal or state agency guidance or interpretations regarding how to manage e-cigarette waste at a manufacturing facility where the generation of the e-cigarette waste is by the facility’s employees. However, e-cigarette waste is indeed considered a hazardous waste. The EPA and environmental professionals are in agreement that because e-cigarettes contain nicotine, this product is considered an acute hazardous waste with the P075 waste code.

If the employee was vaping at home, the employee’s e-cigarette waste would be considered a household hazardous waste and would be exempt from hazardous waste regulation. However, the fact that employees are disposing of their e-cigarette waste at your facility gives rise to a credible interpretation that the facility is the generator of the e-cigarette hazardous waste and must therefore manage it in accordance with all applicable hazardous waste regulations. The quantity of the hazardous waste generated in a month would determine the category of the hazardous waste generator and therefore the extent of the hazardous waste management rules that apply. If your facility has hazardous waste streams that are in addition to the e-cigarette waste, you would have to quantify each waste stream separately and follow the more stringent generator category. Should your facility not generate hazardous waste other than the e-cigarette waste, the very small quantity generator (VSQG) category would most likely be the applicable one. A VSQG is a generator that generates less than or equal to kg (2.2 lb) of acute hazardous waste in a calendar month.

If the scenario, however, was one in which employees are required to take their e-cigarette waste off the facility’s premises each day, it is logical to conclude that the employee, and not the facility, would be considered the generator of the e-cigarette waste.

The document numbers for the two EPA letters regarding e-cigarettes on EPA RCRAOnline are Nos. 14850 and 14851.

Note: This question was answered by experts at Enviro.BLR.com.