The 2012 Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act (e-Manifest Act) directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a hazardous waste e-manifesting system. The EPA recently proposed a system of user fees for e-manifests. Yesterday we looked at how these fees are intended to work and who will actually end up paying for the e-manifest system. Today we will talk about how the e-manifest fee proposal will affect hazardous waste generators.
TSDFs Will Submit Payments, But …
EPA’s recent proposal is to levy user fees on the facilities that receive manifested waste shipments, i.e., hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs).
Since all manifested waste shipments are delivered to a TSDF, and these TSDFs are few in number relative to hazardous waste generators, the EPA determined it would be more efficient to limit fee collection and payment activities to the TSDFs that receive manifested wastes from off-site.
This does not mean that hazardous waste generators get off scot-free.
Although the TSDFs would be primarily responsible for payment of user fees to the EPA, they would be able to pass their fee costs through to their generator customers as part of their waste management service charges, if they choose.
According to the EPA, when this option was discussed with waste industry representatives, they appeared to accept this option as the preferred approach for dealing with fees and their customer relations. Industry members were particularly supportive of this option if it were implemented with a monthly billing cycle under which they would be billed each month for the prior month’s actual usage rather than being assessed fees for estimated levels of usage.
If you are a hazardous waste generator, you may breathe a sigh of relief that you will not be tasked with having to submit e-manifest fees—but it is most likely that you will be paying such fees.
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, in its proposed e-manifest fee rule, the EPA plans to make it much more expensive to use paper manifests.
Here are some actions you can take as a hazardous waste generator to help keep your e-manifest costs down:
- Make sure the TSDF you contract with plans to use the e-manifest system. Under the formulas the EPA is considering, paper manifests mailed to the Agency for processing would incur a per-manifest fee about 88% greater than the fee for electronic manifests. Paper manifest submissions uploaded by TSDFs as XML files will likely be 15% greater than the electronic manifests. If your TSDF does not plan to go fully electronic, you will be paying a higher fee to accommodate their electronic backwardness.
- Be ready to move to the e-manifest system yourself. If your TSDF goes fully electronic and you are not prepared, you may end up paying a higher fee for them to handle and transfer your paper manifests.
- Remember, part of the preparation for e-manifests is ensuring that your employees who fill out and/or sign manifests are trained on the e-manifest system.
- Don’t just pay a blanket fee to your TSDF, have the TSDF line-item the e-manifest costs in your contract or invoice. Ask it to give you the costs for each type of manifest. Keep in mind that the EPA is proposing that e-manifest fees could be changed every 2 years.
- Shop around. It’s possible, though unlikely, that some TSDFs will absorb the e-manifest fees for the sake of business.
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