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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a revision to its definition of solid waste. The proposed changes would primarily apply to hazardous secondary materials and are designed to encourage recycling of the materials, the agency says.

Specifically, the new definition would exclude the following materials: materials generated or reclaimed under the control of the generator, materials transferred to another person or company for reclamation under specific conditions, and materials deemed non-waste through an individual case petition process.

Ed Repa, director of environmental programs for the National Solid Waste Management Association, notes that the revision reduces the number of regulatory hurdles faced by companies looking to reuse and recycle secondary materials from the hazardous waste stream.

In the past, restrictions on recycling hazardous materials were so stringent that many companies gave up and instead sought to use non-hazardous materials, Repa adds.

EPA estimates that the revisions would result in an average cost savings of $107 million per year from the reduced regulatory burden and increased recycling. It also estimates that nearly 4,600 facilities handling more than 500,000 tons of hazardous secondary materials per year would be affected by the change.

“This [revision] recognizes that recycling secondary materials can both help the environment and reduce costs,” said Susan Bodine, assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Solid Waste Emergency Response, in a press release.

The EPA is accepting comment on this revision for 60 days. The docket number is EPA-HQ-RCRA-2002-0031. For more information on the proposal, visit www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/dsw/abr.htm.