Note: A hazardous waste manifest is the shipping paper for hazardous waste. The paper manifest travels with the hazardous waste from the point of generation, through transportation, to the final treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF). Each party in the chain of shipping, including the generator, signs and keeps a manifest copy, creating a “cradle-to-grave” tracking of the hazardous waste.
As mandated by the 2012 e-manifest act, the EPA developed regulations to implement the requirements for an e-manifest system. The February 7, 2014, final rule established the legal and policy framework for e-manifesting.
The transition to e-manifesting has been bogged down by a number of issues, including:
- Developing the needed hardware and software;
- Security provisions such as electronic signatures, which go beyond anything encountered with paper manifests; and
- Obtaining the funding to run a system that affects 160,000 entities in at least 45 industries and currently generates between 4.5 and 5.6 million manifests.
Join us for the Hazardous Waste: Best Practices webinar on June 30 to identify the key elements of the national e-Manifest system rule. Learn more.
E-manifest Is Optional (in a Literal Sense, Anyway)
E-manifesting will extend to all federally and state-regulated wastes that require a manifest, but you will still have the option of using paper manifests. However, the EPA has the authority and intends to apply user fees to enter paper manifests into the electronic system.
According to the EPA, as the Agency “. . . evaluates the fee structure for e-Manifest, we will explore how to balance the cost of paper versus electronic manifests to ensure that EPA can recover the costs of processing the paper manifests.” Translation: The EPA is going to make it much more expensive to use paper manifests.
E-manifesting will greatly expedite public access to hazardous waste data, a development that industry believes may compromise confidential business information (CBI). However, the EPA found that at least 20 states currently treat manifests as publicly available information. The EPA has decided to follow this example, stating that “any individual electronic manifest that may be submitted and collected electronically through the e-manifest system is essentially public information and therefore is not eligible under federal law for treatment as CBI.”
Among its reasons for this decision, the Agency notes that it would be extremely difficult for an entity to meet the federal CBI criteria since information on the manifest is available to multiple commercial entities as well as emergency responders. The entity generating the manifest would need to reach nondisclosure agreements with each of these parties to support a CBI claim.
Hazardous Waste: Best Practices for Complying with the EPA’s e-Manifest Requirements
Avoid hazardous waste manifest errors and learn the status of the new electronic manifes, as well as rack the EPA’s progress on the rule rollout. Register now!
How Will It Work for Hazardous Waste Generators?
How to access the e-manifest system. As currently planned, a hazardous waste generator can participate in the e-manifest system either by accessing the e-manifest system from its own electronic equipment or by accessing the e-manifest system from portable equipment brought to the generator’s site by the transporter that is accepting the shipment from the generator for off-site transportation.
All in or no go. A generator may prepare an e-manifest for the tracking of hazardous waste shipments involving any RCRA hazardous waste only if it is known at the time the manifest is originated that all waste handlers named on the manifest participate in the e-manifest system.
Fees. Generators that use the e-manifest may be assessed a user fee by the EPA for the origination of each e-manifest. The EPA will maintain and update, from time to time, the current schedule of e-manifest user fees, which will be determined on the basis of current and projected system costs and level of use of the e-manifest system.
Note: We anticipate that the fee to use the e-manifest system will be less than the fee to use a paper manifest.