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EPA to Revise Definition of Solid Waste


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to modify the definition of solid waste rule to streamline regulation of hazardous secondary materials. The proposed rule would provide for the recycling of such materials as solvents, metals, and certain other chemicals.

“This proposal recognizes that recycling secondary materials can both help the environment and reduce costs,” said Susan Bodine, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “By encouraging legitimate recycling practices that are environmentally protective, this proposal presents a win-win for the environment and for the economy.”

EPA estimates that streamlining the management of secondary materials in a cost efficient but safe manner will result in an average cost savings of $107 million a year from both reduced regulatory burden and increased recycling.

The proposed rule provides exclusions for:

materials that are generated and reclaimed under the control of the generator;
materials that are generated and transferred to another person or company for reclamation under specific conditions; and
materials that EPA deems nonwaste through a case-by-case petition process.

The proposal also defines legitimate recycling to ensure that only legitimate recycling activity benefits from the streamlined requirements, not treatment or disposal under the guise of recycling.

EPA estimates about 4,600 facilities handling more than half a million tons of hazardous secondary materials annually may be affected by this proposed rule. The industry sectors that could be most affected are chemical manufacturing, coating and engraving, semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and the industrial waste management industry.

EPA is accepting comment on this proposal for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. The docket number is EPA-HQ-RCRA-2002-0031 and is available for public viewing.


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