Transboundary Hazwaste Shipment Rules Getting Stronger

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is strengthening the regulations that govern the shipping of hazardous waste (hazwaste) for recycling between the United States and other countries.

The new measures are meant to increase the level of regulatory oversight, provide stricter controls, and greater transparency. The final rule announced Dec. 28 aligns EPA’s hazwaste import/export/transit shipment regulations with the procedures of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international consortium that comprises 30 countries including the United States.

EPA’s new measures bolster regulations regarding shipments into or out of the United States and strengthen the extensive set of regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) governing shipment within the United States.

Specifically, this rule revises:

  • Existing RCRA regulation regarding the transboundary movement of hazwastes for recovery among countries belonging to the OECD to conform to legally required revisions made by the OECD, such as requiring U.S. recovery facilities to submit a certificate after recovery of the waste has been completed; adding provisions to ensure that hazwastes are returned to the country of export in a more timely and documented manner when it is necessary to do so; and adding new procedures for imported hazwastes that are initially managed at U.S. accumulation and transfer facilities to better track and document that subsequent recovery by a separate recycling facility is completed in an environmentally sound manner.
  • RCRA regulations for spent lead-acid batteries (SLAB) to add export notification and consent requirements to provide stricter controls and greater transparency for exports of SLABs to any country, and should ensure that the batteries are sent to countries and reclamation facilities in those countries that can manage the SLABs in an environmentally sound manner.
  • Hazwaste import-related requirements for U.S. hazwaste management facilities to confirm individual import shipments comply with the terms of EPA’s consent.
  • The address to which export exception reports are to be sent.

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