Presented in Partnership with:

Streamlining Hazardous Waste Regulations
to Encourage Beneficial Recycling
New Rule Will Increase F006 and Solvent Recycling

EPA is currently reviewing a petition filed with the Administrator under RCRA section 7004(a) requesting that the Agency reconsider and repeal the recently promulgated revisions to the definition of solid waste for hazardous secondary materials being reclaimed, and is soliciting comments and information to assist the agency in evaluating the petition. More Info.

NEW! Download an EPA slide show that explains the rule change.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency modified the definition of solid waste rule on October 7, 2008 to streamline regulation of hazardous secondary materials. The rule makes it easier to recycle materials such as metal sludges, solvents and certain other chemicals.

EPA estimates that about 5,600 facilities handling approximately 1.5 million tons of hazardous secondary materials annually may be impacted by this rule. The activities most affected are metals and solvent recycling. EPA estimates that the regulation will save approximately $95 million per year for the affected industries.

The new rule takes effect sixty days after publication in the Federal Register.

The rule provides exclusions for:

  • materials that are generated and reclaimed under the control of the generator;
  • materials that are generated and transferred to another person or company for reclamation under specific conditions; and
  • materials that EPA deems non-waste through a case-by-case petition process.

The rule defines legitimate recycling to ensure that only legitimate recycling activity benefits from the streamlined requirements, not treatment or disposal under the guise of recycling. In order to be legitimately recycled under these exclusions, the hazardous secondary material must:

  • provide a useful contribution to the recycling process; and
  • make a valuable new intermediate or final product.

The new definition of solid waste could facilitate more recycling of F006 wastes (electroplating wastewater treatment sludge). Under the new definition, sludge that is reclaimed for metals recovery will not be considered "discarded", and will not, therefore, be subject to hazardous waste regulations (provided that plating shops and reclamation facilities meet a set of conditions regarding the management and recycling of the sludge).

Below you will find links to the final rule change and related information.

More Resources

DSW Rulemakings. This page provides information on current and past rulemakings on the definition of solid waste. To read this rule:

Revisions to the Definition of Solid Waste Aim to Increase Recycling Fact Sheet.  A fact sheet published by EPA that summarizes the rule.

The surface finishing industry submitted comments on EPA’s March 26, 2007 supplemental proposal to revise the definition of solid waste to encourage the recycling of more hazardous secondary materials.

Miscellaneous Documents:



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You should consult with legal counsel and appropriate authorities before interpreting any regulations or undertaking any specific course of action.

Please note that many of the regulatory discussions on STERC refer to federal regulations. In many cases, states or local governments have promulgated relevant rules and standards
that are different and/or more stringent than the federal regulations. Therefore, to assure full compliance, you should investigate and comply with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.