Implementation of waste minimization programs has been routinely assigned to industrial hygienists. The first question that needs to be answered in program development is, "Which waste is the worst offender?" To answer this, all potential variables that define and describe the wastes must be analyzed and a conclusion drawn. An algorithm has been successfully developed and used to set priorities for minimization activities. This algorithm is used to prepare a matrix that gives priority to the different wastes generated and identifies the logical first target for minimization. The variables analyzed include the weight of the waste generated, total cost for disposal of that waste, long-term and short-term liability resulting from management of the waste, quantity of releases to the environment, cost of replacement raw materials, and toxicity and characteristics of the waste. Each of these variables is defined to be compatible with regulatory definitions. Factors for each variable are assigned and plugged into the algorithm's equation. The operations of the equation have been developed to provide different weights to the factors. From this calculation, the first priority for waste minimization can be chosen.