Hazardous Waste Statistics to Know in 2024

The United States manages an estimated 35 million tons of hazardous materials each year. From 2001-2019, data highlights that most hazardous waste contains wastewater (wastes containing a large amount of water).

Wastewater is most often generated from chemical manufacturing and the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry.

Other hazardous waste is found throughout hospitals, laboratories, and automobile garages while remaining present in farming and water treatment activities. Without realizing it, many of us generate this type of waste in our homes from household products such as batteries, hand sanitizers, and pesticides.

The hazardous waste industry is growing every day. Here are some essential facts to keep in mind.

Hazardous Waste Statistics

Major industries produce a lot of waste (hazardous and non-hazardous). To protect the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency created a series of regulations to promote the safe disposal of waste.

Read below to find out how much hazardous waste the United States produces.

  1. Close to 600 businesses in the US provide hazardous waste services (management and collection) and over 8,700 employees.
  2. In 2019, wastewater represented 80% of the total hazardous waste in the United States.
  3. Texas, Ohio, Indiana, California, and New Jersey produced the most hazardous waste in 2021.
  4. Montana and Arizona increased the amount of hazardous waste produced by 30% between 2020 and 2021.
  5. The top three industry sectors that generated the most hazardous waste in 2021 were “Basic Chemical Manufacturing (NAICS 3251)”, “Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing (NAICS 3241)”, and “Waste Treatment and Disposal sector (NAICS 5622).
  6. The hazardous waste collection industry saw an 11% increase in revenue between 2020 to 2022.
  7. The earth’s production of manufactured chemicals increased by 40,000% to 400 million tons in just one generation.
  8. Over 350 million tons of hazardous waste was generated in 2023.
  9. As of February 2021, more than 50 million tons of hazardous waste have been thrown away globally.
  10. The US saw nearly $9 billion in revenue for hazardous waste treatment and disposal in 2021, up 184% from 2000.
  11. The US produces an average of more than 1,700 pounds of food, plastic, and hazardous waste per person. At that rate, 5% of the world’s population generates 40% of the world’s waste.
  12. New Jersey is home to the largest number of hazardous waste sites (115). It’s followed closely by California (90), Pennsylvania (90), New York (86), and Michigan (65). North Dakota has the least number of hazardous waste sites: zero.
  13. Across the country, large quantity hazardous waste generators (LQG) created more than 16.5 tons of characteristic hazardous waste in 2019. Texas was responsible for over half of this, at 9.9 tons.
  14. 3 billion pounds of Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals were released into the environment in 2020.
  15. From 2012 to 2021, the total disposal or release of TRI chemicals decreased by 10%; a reduced number of hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions was the most significant contributor to the decline (34%).
  16. 28 billion pounds of TRI chemical waste was managed in 2019 by recycling, energy recovery, treatment, and disposal.
  17. The chemical manufacturing industry manages over half (55%) of all TRI chemical waste.
  18. The US makes up 4% of the planet’s population yet produces 12% of its city and town waste.
  19. Global waste production is projected to increase by 70% by 2050.
  20. The majority of waste created in middle- or high-income countries is comprised of inorganic materials such as paper or plastic. In contrast, developing countries are responsible for producing over half of the earth’s total solid waste.
  21. Just 15% of the total waste generated by healthcare-related activities is considered hazardous.
  22. By February of 2021, more than 516,000 tons of pesticides were used.
  23. More than 700 types of foreign man-made chemicals not meant to be there have been found in the human body.

Solid Waste Facts and Statistics

While HWH Environmental specializes in hazardous waste, we recognize the importance of being aware and knowledgeable of everyday municipal solid waste (MSW).

  1. Worldwide, over 2 billion tons of MSW are generated each year.
  2. Global waste is expected to increase to 3.4 billion tons by 2050.
  3. Over 90% of waste is mismanaged in low-income countries.
  4. In some low-income countries, including sub-Saharan Africa, waste volume will likely triple by 2050.
  5. China accounts for 15.55% of all global municipal solid waste generation.
  6. The US generates the most municipal solid waste in the world.
  7. Public waste collection companies in America see $26 billion in revenue yearly.
  8. In June 2023, employees in the waste management sector made an average of $33 per hour and worked 42 hours per week.
  9. The smart waste management market will be worth 6.52 billion by 2026.
  10. Waste management accounts for up to 50% of municipal budgets.
  11. Local governments spent $13 million on waste management in 2019.
  12. 22% of cities in the United States and Canada already implement smart waste management programs.
  13. The average American creates 4.5 pounds of trash each day.
  14. The average American family creates 6,570 pounds of trash per year.
  15. Organics such as paper comprise 66% of the municipal solid waste stream.
  16. 13% of the world’s municipal solid waste is recycled.
  17. 93.9 million tons of MSW get recycled or composted each year.
  18. The average American throws away 1,200 pounds of compostable garbage every year.
  19. 7% of the US waste industry doesn’t offer recycling services.
  20. By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.
  21. There are approximately 200 billion pounds of food waste per year in America.
  22. Food makes up most landfill material, followed by plastic, paper, metals, and wood.
  23. The methane emitted by rotting foods in a landfill is 28-36 times more potent than the carbon emitted from passenger vehicles.
  24. Landfill disposal fees averaged $55 per ton in 2019, up 5% from 2018.
  25. Amazon ships over 600 million packages per year, most in paperboard boxes. Over half of these end up in landfills every year.
  26. Michigan is home to the most waste in landfills per capita.
  27. On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, and $65 to $75 to incinerate it.
  28. Medical waste has increased by 40% since the start of Covid-19.
  29. Nationwide, litter cleanup costs over $11 million every year. Food packaging made up 67% of street litter.
  30. The US uses over 100 billion plastic bags each year.


Facts About Industrial Waste

Specific industries face unique challenges in handling and disposing of hazardous waste. 

HWH Environmental works with clients, including breweries, pharmaceutical companies, auto shops, academic and industrial laboratories, and construction sites.

While all of these businesses are governed by the Environmental Protection Agency, each company has specific rules and regulations they must adhere to.

If you have any questions about hazardous waste or its removal, call HWH Environmental today to avoid costly EPA penalties.

Facts About Brewery Waste

It’s always the perfect time to take a sip from your favorite local breweries. But ask any brewery owner: for every delicious beer comes plenty of waste.

Some are hazardous, some are not.

As more breweries pop up every week, their owners take steps to reduce their hazardous waste footprint while also reformulating other kinds of waste into reusable products, green energy, and food.

  1. Breweries use seven gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer. The wastewater generated during production is considered industrial waste.
  2. Big brewers produce 7 to 10 gallons of wastewater for every gallon of beer they brew, whereas craft breweries produce 3 gallons of wastewater.
  3. A brewery in Boston treats its wastewater and transfers the biogas into green energy.
  4. Most hazardous chemicals onsite for breweries include cleaning chemicals, sanitizers, and flammable liquids.
  5. Three primary brewery wastes are brewer’s spent grain, hot trub, and residual brewer’s yeast.
  6. Many brewery wastes can be used in “food industry compounds extraction, or they can be used in biotechnological processes that require additives for the food industry.”

Facts About Pharmaceutical Waste

Pharmacies and hospitals create a lot of hazardous and non-hazardous waste every year. Because of that, the Environmental Protection Agency developed a series of rules and regulations specific to the industry for removing hazardous waste from facilities.

And it isn’t just unused pills and leftover drugs that are considered hazardous waste, but a lot of the physical materials like used vials need to be treated as hazardous waste.

To remove hazardous waste from a hospital or pharmacy, it’s best to reach out to professionals to guarantee every step is performed correctly and according to the regulations.

  1. The EPA published a 10-step blueprint for removing hazardous waste in healthcare facilities.
  2. About 5% to 10% of pharmaceutical products can be classified as RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) hazardous waste.
  3. There are three categories of RCRA pharmaceutical waste: P-list waste, U-list waste, and/or characteristic hazardous waste.
  4. Syringes, IV bags, tubing, and vials are all considered hazardous waste.
  5. Hospitals produce more than 5 million tons of waste every year.

Facts About Auto Shop Waste

Cars, trucks, and other vehicles produce a lot of waste from the first turn of the key to their engine’s last puff. What’s difficult for auto shops and automobile manufacturers is identifying which waste is hazardous and which is not.

In 2015, the EPA released a vehicle waste maintenance guide that identifies the various types of waste (non-hazardous and hazardous) and the proper ways to dispose of it throughout the lifespan of your automobile.

For auto shops, knowing the difference between used and unused oil, if antifreeze is contaminated, and how to properly dispose of used tires is the difference between hefty EPA fines and compliance.

If you’re confused, reach out to the professionals. HWH Environmental follows “best practices for proper handling, transport and disposal” of your car waste to avoid hefty fines and penalties from the EPA.

  1. Automobiles produce, on average, around “4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year” and about “8,887 grams CO2/ gallon” of tailpipe carbon dioxide.
  2. Like antifreeze and oil, used filters are not regulated under the RCRA.
  3. Transmission fluid, brake fluid, and windshield wiper fluid are all considered hazardous waste.
  4. “Battery acid, phosphoric, hydrochloric, and hydrofluoric acids used in the vehicle maintenance industry for parts cleaning and degreasing” are corrosive hazardous waste.
  5. Even electric cars produce hazardous waste.

Facts About Laboratory Waste

There are two types of laboratories that create hazardous waste: academic and industrial.

Academic laboratories are found on university campuses, whereas industrial labs are located at manufacturing facilities. 

The “chemical constituents, contaminants, and preservatives” in lab chemicals contain hazardous waste in low concentrations. An issue with this is that because of these low concentrations, the substances might not be appropriately labeled.

That’s why it’s essential to reach out to an expert to identify hazardous laboratory waste and the best practices to remove them.

  1. Academic laboratories tend to generate a relatively small volume of each hazardous waste and many different waste streams at each point of generation.
  2. Industrial generators generate only a few waste streams in large quantities at relatively few generation points.
  3. Hazardous waste needs to be removed from laboratories every six months.
  4. Clinical laboratories produce three kinds of waste: chemical waste, infectious (biohazard) waste, and pathological (large tissue) waste.
  5. Red bag waste” is the common name for biohazard infectious waste. This includes blood waste, laboratory waste, and regulated human body fluids.

Facts About Construction Site Waste

Construction sites produce all kinds of hazardous waste that require specific steps for removal. Because there is such a variety of construction waste streams, knowing and understanding how to dispose of them is essential to employee safety and company protection.

The Environmental Protection Agency developed a wide range of regulations to keep employees safe from hazardous waste injuries while protecting the planet. As long as construction sites follow reasonable precautions, adhering to EPA regulations is easy.

For the best results, working alongside a hazardous waste removal company allows construction sites to focus more on building and designing and less on EPA regulations.

  1. More than 75% of all construction waste from wood, drywall, asphalt shingles, bricks, and clay tiles ends up in landfills.
  2. Demolition accounts for 90% of site waste, while construction creates only 10%.
  3. Potential construction site hazardous waste streams include asbestos waste, paint, universal waste, treated wood waste, and used oil.
  4. In 2012, the EPA released guidelines on the handling and disposal of construction waste.
  5. Construction companies may not store more than 2,200 lbs of hazardous waste onsite.

Facts About AFFF Waste

Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) remains one of the most dangerous hazardous wastes produced. As of this year, companies around the country are removing AFFF from their buildings to protect their employees and the environment from serious dangers.

The U.S. Military will stop using AFFF by October 2024, and the Federal Aviation Administration will follow soon after. Most states have already introduced or passed legislation banning the use of AFFF for firefighters during operations or training.

HWH Environmental works with your business to remove AFFF from your facilities to comply with local and federal safety regulations.

  1. AFFF is created by combining foaming agents with fluorinated surfactants.
  2. AFFF was invented in 1960s by the U.S. Navy and 3M to limit damages caused by oil fires.
  3. In September 2022, the EPA announced that some PFAS are now considered hazardous waste.
  4. A lawsuit was filed against companies that produced or manufactured AFFF with over 3,300 plaintiffs.
  5. Since 2017, the Department of Defense has committed $11 million to research alternative firefighting technologies.

Facts About Hand Sanitizer Waste

After COVID-19 lockdowns ended and most businesses returned to normal operations, suppliers around the country were left with thousands of bottles of expired hand sanitizer. While perfectly fine to use on our hands while in date, expired hand sanitizer leads to contaminated water supplies and potentially dangerous circumstances within sewer systems if not handled properly.

The hazardous waste experts at HWH Environmental provide quick, simple, and easy hand sanitizer disposal services that comply with government regulations to help your business avoid costly fines.

  1. The hand sanitizer market grew 560% during the peak of COVID-19.
  2. Most hand sanitizers are labeled as class 3 flammable liquid.
  3. Bulk amounts of hand sanitizer waste (between 400-1001 lbs) must be taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility.
  4. Vapors and liquids associated with hand sanitizer can cause fires in water pipes and sewers.

Need Help with Hazardous Waste Disposal? Call HWH Environmental Today.

Between EPA regulations and the safety of your employees, there’s a lot to keep track of when it comes to hazardous waste disposal. Contact HWH Environmental today to take care of hazardous waste disposal so you can focus on the work that matters.