EPA Proposes Changes in Hazwaste Regulations

TO PROMOTE HAZARDOUS waste (hazwaste) recycling, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., has proposed changes to the federal hazardous waste management regulations under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

The effort's goal is to reuse and recover hazwaste materials rather than dispose of them in land, and possibly recycle more than 1 million tons per year, according EPA Spokesman Dave Ryan. This, in turn, could create an annual savings of $178 million in waste management and recycling costs at 1,700 plants nationwide, he says.

If the changes take effect following the federal 90-day comment period that ends Jan. 26, 2004, materials that are recycled in a continuous process within the same industry materials would be excluded from hazwaste regulations. In other words, a hazwaste generator recycling its own materials would not need to adhere to the current hazwaste regulations. But if materials are dispersed into the environment, companies would be subject to existing regulations and enforcement.

Among the industry categories affected by the proposal are inorganic chemicals; plastic materials and resins, pharmaceutical preparations; cyclic crudes; specialty chemicals; industrial organic chemicals; nonferrous metals, plating and polishing, and printed circuit boards.

Additionally, the proposal clarifies the definition of “legitimate recycling” using four amendments to the existing definition. The criteria include:

  • The material must be managed as a “valuable commodity,” meaning it can be reclaimed or recycled.

  • The material must provide a useful contribution to the recycling process or to a product of the recycling process.

  • The recycling process must yield a valuable product or intermediate that is sold or used under specific conditions.

  • The product of the recycling process must not contain significant amounts of hazardous constituents.

Log onto http://www.epa/gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/dsw/abr.htm to view the proposed changes. Comments on the proposed regulations must be postmarked by Jan. 26.