Dec 15

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Recycling of Hazardous Secondary Materials

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized new safeguards that promote responsible recycling of hazardous secondary materials and demonstrate a significant step forward in promoting recycling innovation.

The Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) final rule modifies the existing rule to protect human health and the environment from the mismanagement of hazardous secondary material, while promoting sustainability through the encouragement of safe and environmentally responsible recycling of such materials. A review of the existing rule identified significant regulatory gaps which could negatively impact communities adjacent to third party recyclers, including disproportionately impacting minority and low-income populations.

  • The DSW rule addresses significant regulatory gaps by requiring off-site recycling at a facility with a RCRA permit or verified recycler variance, which will allow EPA and the states to verify that a facility has the equipment and trained personnel to safely manage the material, adequate financial assurance, is prepared to respond in case of an emergency, and can demonstrate that the recycling is not disposal in the guise of recycling. The new verified recycler exclusion also includes a public participation requirement for recyclers seeking variances, so that communities are notified prior to the start of recycling operations.
  • The DSW rule affirms the legitimacy of existing exclusions, such as the scrap metal exclusion, and does not change the regulatory status of material legitimately recycled under these long-standing exclusions.
  • The DSW rule includes a revised definition of legitimate recycling that re-affirms the legitimacy of in-process recycling and of commodity-grade recycled products, such as metal commodities. The rule retains the exclusion for recycling under the control of the generator, including recycling onsite, within the same company and through certain types of toll manufacturing agreements, which recognizes those generators who follow good business practices by taking responsibility for their recycling and maintaining control of their hazardous secondary materials.
  • Finally, the DSW final rule includes a targeted remanufacturing exclusion for certain higher-value hazardous spent solvents, which are being remanufactured into commercial-grade products. This allows manufacturers to reduce the use of virgin solvents, resulting in both economic and environmental benefits, including energy conservation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

More information about this DSW rule can be found on EPA’s website at: http://www.epa.gov/waste/hazard/dsw/rulemaking.htm.

Call us for more information on this, or with any other questions pertaining to environmental health and safety that you may have.

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