US EPA Releases Final Rule on Definition of Solid Waste in 2015

On December 10, 2014, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or the “Agency”) signed a final rule revising the definition of “solid waste” for purposes of the federal hazardous waste regulatory program under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”).  This definition is a key element of the RCRA regulations, inasmuch as only solid wastes can be subjected to regulation as hazardous wastes. EPA originally proposed this latest round of changes in 2011, in response to a court challenge that alleged that the last major set of changes, in 2008, inappropriately excluded certain recyclable materials from RCRA regulation, thereby posing risks to the environment and human health, with disproportionate impacts on minority and low-income populations. The new final rule (“2014 DSW Rule”) significantly cuts back on the 2008 DSW Rule, and also imposes new requirements on recyclable materials that were excluded or exempted from regulation under the pre-2008 RCRA rules.  The 2014 DSW Rule also amends the Agency’s “legitimacy criteria” for determining when recycling is legitimate, rather than a sham, and establishes one new regulatory exclusion for certain solvent recycling operations, referred to as “remanufacturing.” The formal effective date for the rule is 180 days after publication in the Federal Register (expected in early January 2015), however, in virtually all States, the rule will not be effective unless and until adopted by the State.  SGIA will keep the industry updated on developments.
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