NASF: EPA Releases More Stringent Definition of Solid Waste Regulation

The new revisions state that the recycling of secondary materials can occur only if specific regulatory requirements are met.


In December, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed the final revisions to the Definition of Solid Waste rule. The primary purpose of the revisions was to close perceived regulatory gaps in the 2008 Definition of Solid Waste rule that allowed the recycling of hazardous secondary materials without sufficient regulatory controls. The new revisions state that the recycling of secondary materials can occur only if specific regulatory requirements are met. The rule was published January 13 in the Federal Register.

The biggest change in the 2014 revisions is the withdrawal of the “transfer-based” exclusion, replacing it with a “verified recycler” exclusion. Now, off-site, third-party facilities that receive secondary materials for recycling must have an RCRA permit. In addition, both generators must: 1) notify EPA or authorized state officials, 2) ensure that materials are contained, 3) maintain records of shipments of materials off site and 4) meet emergency response and preparedness requirements.

Recyclers may also apply for a variance from the permit, provided that they are able to demonstrate certain requirements.

The new rule retains some of the existing exclusions for scrap metal recycling, in-process recycling, commodity-grade recycled products and the materials that remain under the generator’s control, such as on-site recycling, recycling within the same company and toll manufacturing agreements. In addition, the final rule includes a targeted manufacturing exclusion that allows certain spent solvents to be remanufactured into commercial-grade products.

In sum, while the new revisions provide additional safeguards for the recycling of secondary materials, it will be more difficult and more expensive to recycle many secondary materials.

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