NOVEMBER 2008

Definition of solid waste revised

A final rule under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act streamlines regulation of hazardous secondary materials when they are recycled by reclamation. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation maintains strong protection of human health and the environment by limiting the streamlined requirements to specific, legitimate recycling activities.

“Removing barriers to recycling is good for business and the environment,” said Susan Parker Bodine, assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “This rule will help conserve natural resources, save energy and reduce costs.”

The rule excludes materials from the federal hazardous waste system that are:

  • Generated and legitimately reclaimed under the control of the generator;
  • Generated and transferred to another company for legitimate reclamation under specific conditions; or
  • Determined by the EPA or an authorized state to be non-wastes on a case-by-case basis via a petition process.

The rule also contains a provision to determine which recycling activities are legitimate under the new exclusions and non-waste determinations. These exclusions are not available for materials that are considered inherently waste-like, used in a manner constituting disposal, or burned for energy recovery.

The EPA estimates that about 5,600 facilities handling approximately 1.5 million tons of hazardous secondary materials annually may be impacted by this rule. The activities most affected are metals and solvent recycling. EPA estimates that the regulation will save approximately $95 million per year for the affected industries.

For information about the definition of Solid Waste Rule, visit www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/dsw/index.htm.