RCRA red tape slashed for recyclers

Manufacturers and the recycling industry by and large liked the transfer-based exclusion (TBE) amendment …

… to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s (RCRA) definition of solid waste. And now the courts are in solid agreement with them.

The Washington DC Circuit Court upheld the TBE despite environmental groups’ arguments it would spur dumping of hazardous materials and “sham” recycling.

There’s now clarity on how waste generators and third-party reclaimers can operate and comply with RCRA going forward:

Trust in the recycling process

Facilities that generate certain kinds of hazardous secondary materials (HSMs) can sell or donate materials to reclaimers so long as they’re legitimately being recycled.

The TBE mandates that:

• HSMs can’t be held in storage for longer than 10 days

• generators, intermediate facilities and recyclers must keep manifests

• recyclers must reclaim 75% of HSMs in a calendar year, and

• HSMs must be managed according to RCRA Subtitle C if they’re discarded.

And for an HSM to be deemed “legitimate” it must:

• provide a useful contribution to the recycling process

• result in a valuable product (not necessarily for prompt sale or distribution however), and

• be part of a product that’s treated as a valuable commodity by the generator and recycler.

The TBE came out late in the second Bush administration then was shelved by the Obama White House.