Micro vs. Macro-encapsulation

Micro vs. Macro-encapsulation

Hazardous waste is a necessary byproduct of many essential industrial processes, but it must be managed carefully in order to protect ourselves, our workers, and our environment. During the course of proper management, there are a number of safe and responsible treatment, destruction, and disposal methods available to hazardous waste generators.

Micro-encapsulation and macro-encapsulation are two distinct popular hazardous waste treatment methods, primarily designated for contaminated debris (meaning debris that contains a listed hazardous waste or exhibits a characteristic of hazardous waste).

Debris cannot be treated easily in normal waste treatment processes, which is why it needs to be encapsulated to effectively reduce leachability and resist degradation. An example would be lead pipe, or construction debris that has been contaminated in some fashion. However, the encapsulation process is incapable of processing any liquid waste because of its aqueous state.

Micro-encapsulation is the more common of the two methods, as it pertains to hazardous debris smaller than 3’x 3′ 3” and 3,000 pounds, and is generally easier to manage.

Micro-encapsulation, along with macro-encapsulation, involves “sealing” the waste debris (customarily with polyethylene) so as to prevent any hazardous constituents from leaching into the surrounding environment. It is a fitting treatment method for any waste type that can be completely covered with a sealing agent, both externally and internally. Once the waste has been effectively coated, it would then be transported to a RCRA subtitle C landfill for permanent disposal. Most hazardous debris is eligible for this process.

Predictably, the macro-encapsulation methodology is limited to larger waste debris types. Hazardous waste debris is entrapped within a one-piece structural unit, typically a concrete shell. The shell is both filled and sealed with a solid material, such a cement kiln dust or fly ash. As with micro-encapsulation, once this process is complete the entire structure will also need to be transported and landfilled at a RCRA subtitle C hazardous waste disposal facility.

Understanding all the treatment technologies for your hazardous and non-hazardous waste available to you as a generator is key to finding out the most advantageous and cost-effective solutions for your waste streams. For more information on how ECOFLO can assist you in that journey, use this link to get in touch with us.


This article was provided by Hazardous Waste Experts