Waste manifests are required by RCRA, and they follow waste shipments from creation to disposal. Filling them out accurately is crucial for compliance, and mis-filled waste manifests are the number one cause of RCRA citations. So getting this right matters a lot.
In this post, we’ll look at the waste manifest, run through a checklist for accurately filling one out, and see what can happen when the process goes wrong. We’ll look at who can sign one, what training they need, and what your reporting requirements are. But first, what is in a waste manifest?
What is in a uniform hazardous waste manifest?
Waste manifests are made up of two forms:
- EPA Form 8700-22 – uniform hazardous waste manifest
- EPA Form 8700-22A – continuation sheet (used if necessary)
The uniform hazardous waste form must be revision 12-17, since all previous revisions are now prohibited. Uniform hazardous waste manifests are a single-copy form, but 40 CFR 262.21(f)(5) requires that they be printed as five-copy forms (this number used to be six, but the eCFR updated July 26, 2021 lists it as five).
The EPA also requires that only certified, registered printers can print paper manifests; you can’t do them yourself. There are stipulations concerning paper weight, the printing processes used, and more. The regulations covering who can print a manifest are in CFR 40 262.21.
When they’re printed, manifests must have the unique tracking number, box 4 on the manifest, printed on them. It can’t be added by hand later.
Manifests list the business details of the parties involved in transporting and disposing of waste, as well as details about the waste and the signatures of each party at each step of the process.
Who needs to sign a waste manifest?
Brokers, transporters, and receiving facilities can prepare manifests on behalf of generators. However, the rules on who can sign a manifest are much stricter.
Paper waste manifests must be signed by hand by owners, operators, or the authorized representative of an owner or operator, of generators, transporters, and disposal facilities. General rules on using the manifest are in 40 CFR 262.23(a). Electronic manifests can be signed using a legally valid and enforceable electronic signature system, but this must still be done by a signor in person.
The signor of a waste manifest must have ‘first-hand knowledge’ of the information listed in the manifest, and of the regulations that apply to the waste listed. This means manifest signors need to be properly trained to meet RCRA requirements, including identifying, characterizing and handling RCRA wastes. However, there are no specific training requirements for signors, only the general training requirements from the DOT and RCRA subtitle C. It’s easy to let the waste technician sign the manifests, but only do it if you have documented training. The rule is: “If it’s not documented, it was never done” for demonstrating evidence to regulators.
Who is liable for the contents of a waste manifest?
If the signor of a manifest has been properly trained, and signs on behalf of the company, they are personally liable for civil and criminal purposes. Anyone who signs manifests is an ‘offeror,’ under 49 CFR 171.2. There can be more than one offeror, in which case they are jointly and severally liable.
Who has to submit a manifest?
If you are a Large Quantity Generator (generating 1,000kg or more of hazardous waste per calendar month) or a Small Quantity Generator (generating over 100kg, but under 1,000kg, of hazardous waste per calendar month), you need to fill out a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest to document off-site shipments of hazardous waste.
Waste manifests go with a waste shipment from creation to disposal. Each party who handles the waste shipment signs the manifest and retains a copy for themselves, which they have to keep for three years. This can generate a lot of paperwork, so the EPA now encourages the use of digital waste manifests which are both easier to use and store, and easier to audit.
Waste manifest submission guidelines vary by state, but sometimes you’ll be required to submit a manifest copy in the producer’s state, or the disposal site’s state. Some states allow as little as 48 hours to submit a manifest.
What happens if another party doesn’t return the manifest?
Large Quantity Generators must:
- Contact the primary transporter or disposal facility if they have not received a copy of the manifest, signed by the owner or operator of the relevant facility, within 35 days of the date the shipment was accepted by the initial transporter.
- Submit an Exception Report to the relevant State EPA, or the federal EPA regional office if there’s no state EPA, if they have not received a copy of the manifest bearing the handwritten signature of the owner or operator of the relevant facility within 45 days of the date the shipment was accepted by the initial transporter.
Exception reports for LQGs must include:
- A legible copy of the manifest for which the generator has not received confirmation of delivery.
- A cover letter signed by the generator (owner or operator) or an authorized representative, explaining what efforts have been made to locate the missing hazardous waste and what have been the results of those efforts.
Small Quantity Generators must:
- Submit an Exception Report to their State EPA or to the regional office of the US EPA, if they have not received a signed Page 3 of the manifest within, at most, 60 days from the date the shipment was accepted by the primary transporter. Some states set this limit at 45 days.
Exception reports for SQGs must include:
- A legible copy of the manifest with indications that the generator has not received confirmation of delivery.
Manifests have to be signed by owners or by a member of staff on behalf of the operator. These individuals are liable for civil violations and criminal charges that can include large fines and jail time — more on this below.
It’s important to note that some states have additional requirements, over and above the federal waste manifest requirements. The EPA keeps a list of websites and contacts for these states and requirements here.
What fees do you have to pay to submit a manifest?
The EPA charges fees to submit waste manifests. These change yearly, and the fee schedule given here is correct up until September 2021.
The EPA’s fee schedule page displays changes in fees.
How to fill out a uniform hazardous waste manifest
Generators must enter:
- Their Generator ID.
- A phone number that is monitored 24 hours a day during the period waste is transported, and which either reaches someone who has comprehensive knowledge of the waste shipment, including emergency preparation, or someone who has immediate access to that person.
- Their normal site address, mailing address, and phone number.
- Transporter company names and US EPA ID numbers for up to two transporters — the continuation sheet is for if there are more than two.
- The name, site address and US EPA ID number for the designated facility that will dispose of the waste.
- US DOT description, including Proper Shipping Name, Hazard Class or Division, Identification Number, and Packing Group, as defined in 49 CFR 172. This is item 9a and 9b on the waste manifest.
- Container type code — see the list.
- Total quantities and units of measure.
- Waste codes: up to six federal and state waste codes to describe each waste stream described in item 9b.
- Special handling instructions and/or instructions for international shipments.
Filling out a uniform hazardous waste manifest is complex and the person who does it needs to be knowledgeable and competent.
The EPA’s guide to filling out a manifest can be found here.
What about e-Manifests?
It’s also possible to submit electronic manifests. To do that, you have to:
- Obtain an EPA ID by completing form 8700-12 or by checking with your state environmental agency to see if you can do this electronically.
- Assign a Site Manager for your business. The EPA recommends you assign at least two Site Managers.
- Go to the EPA e-Manifest login page.
- Register for the RCRAInfo Industry User Registration e-learning course, which requires you to establish a free LearningZen account. To do this, click the Request access to this portal link, complete the information requested, and use the authorization code: rcrainfo.
You can sign up to receive information about e-Manifests from the EPA by sending a blank email to: eManifestemail@example.com.
Electronic manifests can be obtained, prepared, signed and transmitted electronically using any device, including mobile devices.
If you’re signed up for e-Manifests, you can also use a hybrid approach using both electronic and paper manifests. If you do this, the manifest is obtained and prepared as an electronic manifest. When the initial transporter arrives on site, the transporter presents the generator with a printed copy of the electronic manifest, and both sign it by hand so that the generator can retain this copy as their initial manifest copy. From here on in, the hybrid manifest is processed by the transporter, subsequent waste handlers, and the e-Manifest system as an electronic manifest.
What happens if you fill out a manifest incorrectly?
Filling out a waste manifest can earn you serious penalties. These come in three layers.
First, there are the fines for filling in boxes on the form incorrectly. If your writing goes over the lines, you can be fined $25 per infraction. $25 isn’t a huge sum, but there are 19 boxes on the manifest to be filled in by hand. That gives you the chance to lose $475 on each manifest! It pays to fill them out carefully.
Second is the fine for having an unauthorized person sign the manifest. If someone who isn’t certified to sign the manifest signs it, their company gets an $8,500 fine.
And finally, there are the fines for supplying false, misleading or incorrect information. Each waste stream must have a complete profile, including the appropriate codes for waste containers, waste types, and weights. These fines are not set in advance according to a schedule, but they can run into hundreds of thousands or more.
What happens when manifests contain false information?
When United States Sugar pled guilty to RCRA and RCRA-related criminal charges, including illegally transporting hazardous waste without using a manifest at all as well as other charges, the company was fined $3,750,000. When the International Petroleum Company of Delaware did something similar in 2017, they had to pay a $1,300,000 fine and $2,200,000 restitution to the City of Wilmington, North Carolina.
These are high-profile cases, and most fines don’t reach these figures. In each case, other wrongdoing was also involved. But the EPA seeks civil and criminal penalties, including against signors and company executors, under a patchwork of environmental regulations, including those covering manifest use. Whether it’s a $25 fine for missing the box, or a multimillion headline case, it pays not to get it wrong.
- The person who signs waste manifests needs to be trained, competent and reliable. Make sure to keep training records as proof. They have your company’s financial security in their hands, as well as their own civil and criminal liability.
- Filling out a waste manifest correctly is a complex task that requires knowledge of all the systems that play into it — state and federal waste codes, state regulations, and more, as well as the contents of the shipment.
- Waste manifests impose reporting and record-keeping responsibilities on every party in the chain from waste generation through transportation to final disposal.
- Filling out a manifest incorrectly can lead to serious penalties.