United States: EPA Releases Final Rule To Distinguish Recycled Products From Solid Waste Under RCRA Subtitle C

On Dec. 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final rule amending the RCRA Subtitle C "Definition of Solid Waste." The final rule will go into effect 180 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, expected in mid-January 2015.

This rule has been under development since 2010, when EPA settled a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club by agreeing to propose revisions to the 2008 Definition of Solid Waste Rule to address the changes requested by the Sierra Club in an administrative petition filed in January 2009. 

Legitimacy Criteria Applicable to All Recycling

Under the final rule, EPA may bring a RCRA enforcement action against any recycler of hazardous secondary materials if the recycling activity does not meet all of the following four recycling legitimacy criteria:

  1. a hazardous secondary material must make a useful contribution to a final product or intermediate, 
  2. the recycling process must produce a valuable product or intermediate,
  3. the hazardous secondary material must be managed as a valuable commodity, and
  4. the final product must be comparable to a legitimate product or intermediate with respect to hazardous characteristics and levels of hazardous constituents. 

If operating pursuant to the exclusion for recycling under the control of the generator or the verified recycler exemption, notification to EPA and maintenance of documentation onsite describing how the recycling activity meets the legitimacy criteria are conditions of the exclusion.

For recyclers operating under other (pre-2008) exclusions or exemptions, notification and documentation of legitimacy are not conditions of the recycling exemption unless the recycler is relying on a self-determination that the recycling activity is legitimate even though the product produced has levels of hazardous constituents that are not comparable to those found in analogous products.  Instead, EPA added new Section 261.2(g) that allows EPA to find that recycling is sham and hazardous secondary material is a solid waste, based on a finding that the legitimacy criteria are not met. 

Hazardous Constituents Comparison

In the final rule, EPA made the legitimacy criterion relating to comparable hazardous constituents more flexible than proposed.  If there is an analogous product, a recycler can compare constituent levels to those found in the analogous product or to "widely-recognized commodity standards and specifications" if the standard and specification specifically addresses the hazardous constituents found in the product of recycling.   If there is no analogous product, then the product of recycling is comparable if it meets "widely-recognized commodity standards and specifications," whether or not the standard or specification addresses all the constituents found in the product of recycling. In addition, EPA assumes there is no analogous product in the case of closed-loop recycling and in the final rule all closed-loop recycling is considered comparable. In the preamble, EPA declares all closed–loop recycling to be legitimate recycling.

In the proposed rule, EPA would have required recyclers to petition EPA for a determination that a product of recycling is legitimate even if it has higher levels of hazardous constituents. In the final rule EPA replaced the petition process with a self-determination that the product meets the fourth legitimacy criterion based on lack of human health or environmental risk, if the determination is documented, certified, and maintained as a record, and notice to EPA is provided.


The final rule maintains the exclusion for recycling under the control of the generator, including tolling operations, with notice, record-keeping, containment, speculative accumulation, and emergency response and preparedness conditions.

The final rule replaces the 2008 transfer-based exclusion with a verified recycler exclusion that allows a generator to send hazardous secondary material to a recycler if the recycler has a Subtitle C permit or has received a variance from EPA and the generator keeps the material contained, meets record-keeping requirements, meets emergency preparedness and response requirements, and provides notice to EPA.

The conditions applicable to recycler under the verified recycler exclusion are similar to those applicable to third-party recyclers in the 2008 rule (financial assurance, etc.) with the addition of emergency preparedness and response requirements and a requirement to address the potential for risk to populations residing near the recycling operation.

A new exclusion is finalized for remanufacturing certain high value solvents.  This exclusion is limited to 18 specified solvents, originating from and remanufactured by four specified industry sectors for use for reacting, extracting, purifying, or blending chemicals (or for rinsing out the process lines in NAICS 325510) or for use as ingredients in a product.  EPA places many conditions on this exclusion by restating the tank and container standards found in 40 CFR Part 264 Subparts I and J, and requiring air emission controls in compliance with CAA regulations under 40 CFR Part 60, part 61 or part 63, or compliance with technical standards copied from 40 CFR Part 264 and 265 Subparts AA, BB, and CC.

The emergency response and preparedness conditions on the generator-controlled and verified recycler exclusions are based on requirements in 40 CFR Part 265 applicable to large and small quantity generators of hazardous waste.

Other Changes

The final rule will affect all persons who accumulate hazardous waste before recycling by adding a labeling requirement to the definition of speculative accumulation under 40 CFR 261.1(c)(8).

The final rule will affect all persons operating under variances or non-waste determinations by amending 40 CFR 260.31 to change the criteria for the partially-reclaimed material variance and by amending 40 CFR 260.33 to  add notification requirements and to limit the duration of variances and non-waste determinations to ten years

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.