RCRA Empty and California Empty

Containers that have been contaminated with hazardous waste are exempted if they are empty. There are two measures to determine if a container is empty:

RCRA Empty

Empties swf

According to federal regulations, a container is considered empty when all wastes are removed using common practices and:

  • There must be no more than 2.5 cm (1 inch) remaining in the container,
    -- or --
    containers less than 110 gallons  must have no more than 3% remaining,
    -- or --
    containers over 110 gallons  must have no more than 0.3% remaining in the container

  • Compressed gas cylinders are considered empty when the pressure in the container approaches atmospheric pressure.

  • Containers holding acutely hazardous materials must be triple rinsed.

A RCRA-empty container may be managed as a non-hazardous waste under the federal rules but it is still considered hazardous waste in California.

California Empty

In California, a RCRA-empty container is still a hazardous waste unless it also meets the Title 22 CCR requirements for “empty”.

Cal Empties

If a container meets the “drip/dry” standard, the “empty” container may be managed as follows:

  • A container of 5 gallons or smaller may be disposed in a non-hazardous landfill.

  • A container larger than 5 gallons must be reclaimed for scrap value, reconditioned, remanufactured or refilled.

  • Containers holding aerosols [Title 22 CCR §66261.7(m)] must be completely discharged of contents and propellant before disposed in a non-hazardous waste landfill.


40 CFR 261.7
40 CFR 261.31, 261.32, and 261.33(e)
Title 22 CCR 66261.7