It’s been over a year since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register its long-awaited final rule revising regulations affecting recycling of hazardous materials under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Known as the 2015 Definition of Solid Waste rule (2015 DSW rule), this final rule exempts certain hazardous secondary materials (HSMs) from the definition of solid waste (and thus RCRA regulation), provided certain conditions are met.
EPA’s objective in establishing the 2015 DSW rule was to provide stronger protections against potential mismanagement of HSMs intended for recycling and to establish a uniform, legitimate recycling standard for all HSM recycling in order to improve compliance and help ensure that HSMs are, in fact, legitimately recycled rather than illegally disposed of.
The 2015 DSW rule became effective on July 13, 2015, although for states with RCRA authorization from the EPA (all states except Alaska and Iowa and U.S. territories), the provisions of the final rule do not go into effect unless and until the RCRA-authorized state adopts them. Pursuant to RCRA regulation, RCRA-authorized states must adopt the more stringent provisions of the 2015 DSW rule by July 1, 2016, (or July 1, 2017, if a state statutory change is necessary). However, it’s very common for the EPA to extend the adoption deadline for a state on a case-by-case basis.