Nov 30, 2016
Widespread Shallow Groundwater Contamination Found in Southwestern Illinois Cave Streams and Springs
Nov 29, 2016
In advocating for this proposed rule, ACA underscored to Ohio EPA 1) the environmental benefits that would result from classifying PPRW as universal waste; 2) how classifying PPRW as universal waste would create better facility management; and 3) provided specific examples of why classifying PPRW as universal waste will alleviate regulatory burdens, costs, and encourage more recycling and reuse.
ACA hopes this new regulation will serve as a model that can now be used to promulgate analogous regulations in other interested states. Currently, only Texas and New Jersey have universal waste rules for paint and paint-related waste.
ACA has long maintained that paint and paint-related waste satisfy the criteria for designating a new universal waste. Paint is used by a wide range of different manufacturing industries and establishments, and is not exclusive to a specific industry. Paint and paint-related waste does not pose a significant risk when accumulated and transported by manufacturers, establishments, and other users. ACA also stressed that designation as a universal waste will promote the proper recycling or disposal of the hazardous waste and divert it from non-hazardous waste management systems.
ACA has also noted that including both paint and paint-related waste is very important as certain materials are not incorporated into the actual product itself, but are nonetheless critical for paint application and should be listed a long with paint.
ACA will be submitting comments to Ohio EPA by the Dec. 21 comment deadline.
More information on Ohio's proposed Universal Waste Regulations is available here.
After consolidating the feedback from the regulated community, states and other stakeholders, EPA developed a proposal it says will improve the entire hazardous waste generator program to strengthen environmental protection while ensuring businesses have the flexibility and certainty they need to successfully operate. ACA had submitted comments in response to the proposed rule almost a year ago, on Dec. 24, 2015 (see article). ACA, along with many other industries, cautioned that many of EPA's proposed changes, while intended to improve clarity and flexibility, will actually add unnecessary burdens, including recordkeeping, labeling and notification, as well as confusion for hazardous waste generators, with little benefit to human health or the environment.
According to EPA, the rule finalizes a much-needed update to the hazardous waste generator regulations to make the rules "easier to understand, facilitate better compliance, provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed, and close important gaps in the regulations."
In addition to finalizing key flexibilities, the rule enhances the safety of facilities, employees, and the general public by improving hazardous waste risk communication and ensuring that emergency management requirements meet today's needs. Further, EPA is finalizing a number of clarifications without increasing burden including a reorganization of the hazardous waste generator regulations so that all of the generator regulations are in one place.
According to EPA, the final rule includes approximately 60 changes to the hazardous waste generator regulations. Some examples of the changes in the final rule include the following:
- Allowing very small quantity generators (VSQGs) to send hazardous waste to a large quantity generator (LQG) that is under the control of the same person and consolidate it there before sending it on to management at a RCRA-designated facility, provided certain conditions are met.
- Allowing a VSQG or a small quantity generator (SQG) to maintain its existing generator category in the case of an episodic event that would otherwise bump the generator into a more stringent generator regulatory category.
- Requiring periodic re-notification for SQGs every four years (SQGs only notify once under the current federal system). States with more frequent re-notifications can retain their existing requirements.
- Improving risk communication by revising the regulations for labeling and marking of containers and tanks to indicate the hazards of the hazardous waste contained inside.
- Replacing the phrase "conditionally exempt small quantity generator" with the phrase "very small quantity generator" to be consistent with the other two generator categories—large quantity generators and small quantity generators.
- Reorganizing the hazardous waste generator regulations by moving VSQG regulations from § 261.5 into 40 CFR part 262, where the regulations for SQGs and LQGs are located, and by moving many of the generator regulations that are currently located in other parts of the hazardous waste standards into part 262 to replace the current lists of cross references.
- Revising the regulations for completing the RCRA biennial report to be consistent with the current instructions distributed with the form.
- Revising generator regulations to do with closure, waste determinations, submitting contingency plans, and other emergency preparedness and prevention areas.
- In addition to the above, making technical corrections to inadvertent errors in the regulations, obsolete programs, and unclear citations.
EPA is not finalizing certain provisions it proposed, responding to adverse public comments. These include documentation of non-hazardous waste determinations; maintaining hazardous waste determinations until the facility closes; notification to the state or EPA of closure of a waste accumulation unit at a facility; requiring labeling hazardous waste units with the contents of the container; certain revisions to the drip pad requirements; and documentation of weekly inspections. ACA opposed many of these amendments in the proposed rule.
The rule will be effective six (6) months after the date it is published in the Federal Register. For non-authorized RCRA states (Alaska, Iowa, the Indian Nations, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, N. Mariana and US Virgin Islands), the rule will go into effect on that 6-month effective date. RCRA authorized states will have to adopt rules and become authorized for the new provisions. These states are only required to adopt the provisions in this final rule that are more stringent than the current RCRA regulations.
EPA will be hosting two webinars open to the public to discuss the final rule in the upcoming months. The webinars will be held:
- Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 2:00 pm
- Monday, Dec. 5 at 2:00 pm
Register for the webinars at https://clu-in.org/conf/tio/hwgenerators/.
The U.S. federal government is the largest purchaser in the world, and EPA has developed guidelines to help agencies in the federal government select environmental performance standards and ecolabels for their use. EPA is testing the guidance starting with three product category types: paint and coatings, flooring, and furniture. EPA has assembled a panel of stakeholders, including ACA and coating manufacturers, to evaluate the agency's guidance before it is finalized for use by other federal agencies.
EPA's goal is to create a transparent, fair, and consistent approach to selecting environmental performance standards and ecolabels to support the agency's mission and federal sustainable acquisition mandates.
EPA's pilot assessment criteria were made final in March 2016. EPA piloted the criteria by seeking eco labels to volunteer to be assessed. ACA worked to ensure the guidelines provide manufacturers flexibility to accommodate the variety of approaches to and types of standards and ecolabels that exist in the marketplace today.
ACA understands the importance and necessity for the EPA to review existing ecolabels in the marketplace to make appropriate recommendations to guide federal purchasing. However, ACA and its industry are concerned that major changes were made to the guidance document after the public comment period closed and without participation and feedback from the interested and impacted participants on the paint panel. While the results of the pilot indicate that many Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) could not comply with certain criteria, it was understood that those criteria would signal the SDO community to improve their standards in the future. Instead, it appears that where the SDOs were unable to achieve critical criteria, such as open, transparent stakeholder involvement in standard development, the bar has been lowered to allow for closed door, arbitrary standard development.
In its comments, ACA made a series of recommendations to EPA, including urging the use of Voluntary Consensus Standards (VCS) for government purchasing, rather than amending the assessment criteria. ACA will continue to monitor the final stages of the pilot process and will remain engaged.
(PAINT.ORG) On Oct. 28, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a pre-publication version of its final rule, Hazardous Waste Import and Export Regulations, which will be published in the Federal Register later this month. The rule is meant to streamline the hazardous waste export and import process, implement mandatory electronic reporting for international shipments and electronically link export information. The final version of the rule appears to be very similar to the proposed rule, which was released on Sept. 24, 2015. ACA did not submit any comments on the proposed rule.
The rule's regulatory changes will go into effect on Dec. 31, 2016.
The rule will affect transboundary shipments that are currently subject to 40 C.F.R. Part 262 Subpart H, which regulates recovery hazardous waste shipments sent between the United States and countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), other than Mexico and Canada. The rule also affects shipments currently subject to Subparts E and F, which regulate all other hazardous waste imports and exports. The modifications make certain substantive changes to the requirements of Subpart H, as well as expand the scope of that subpart to cover transboundary shipments currently subject to Subparts E and F.
According to EPA, the final rule establishes the following:
- Consolidation of the regulations so that one set of protective requirements — the regulations currently in title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 262 Subpart H implementing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Council Decision controlling transboundary movements of recyclable hazardous waste — will apply to all imports and exports of hazardous waste;
- Mandatory electronic reporting to EPA that will enable increased sharing of hazardous waste import and export data with state programs, the general public, and individual hazardous waste exporters and importers;
- Linking the consent to export with the electronic export information submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection that will provide for more efficient compliance monitoring;
- Clearer matching of waste stream level export and import consent numbers with waste streams listed on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste manifests for shipments; and
- Mandatory EPA identification (ID) numbers for all small quantity and large quantity hazardous waste exporters and importers, including those recognized traders arranging for export or import of hazardous waste.
By far, the mandatory electronic reporting to EPA of hazardous waste imports and exports will be the most direct impact of this rule to ACA members. Please note, however, only export notices requesting initial consent or renewal of consent for hazardous wastes are required to be submitted to EPA electronically after Dec. 31, 2016. EPA still needs to build and beta-test the electronic reporting system that is required by this rule, after which a compliance date will be announced in a separateFederal Register announcement.
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to Provide Clarifications to Article 6: Clear and Reasonable Warnings Under Prop 65
(PAINT.ORG) On Aug. 30, 2016, California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) adopted amendments to Article 6, Clear and Reasonable Warnings, of Prop 65. The regulation will be effective on Aug. 30, 2018. In the interim, OEHHA says businesses may comply with the old regulations until the effective date as companies will have two years to comply with the new regulations. Prop 65 requires anyone doing business in the state of California to provide a warning prior to exposure to a listed chemical(s).
A Prop 65 warning must be "clear and reasonable" under the law, and Article 6 provides safe harbor language that businesses can adopt to ensure compliance and protect them from enforcement. OEHHA has made significant changes to the Prop 65 regulations governing clear and reasonable warnings, including new safe harbor warning language and methods of transmitting warnings for product exposures, environmental exposures, exposures in the workplace, and specific safe harbor provisions from various sources such as amusement parks and parking garages. These amendments seek to accomplish Gov. Jerry Brown's goals of improving the meaningfulness of warnings for the public and providing clarity for businesses required to warn under Prop 65. ACA has been actively participating in the regulatory process, providing substantive comments regarding its concerns with the agency's numerous proposed revisions.
ACA is drafting guidance for members on the new Article 6 Requirements, and expects to release it in early 2017.
In the meantime, in order to provide greater clarity for its members, ACA sought clarification from OEHHA on several new requirements under the new regulations. Based on ACA's consultation with OEHHA, ACA suggests the following guidance for members.
A number of ACA members have submitted questions to ACA regarding protocols for providing Prop 65 warnings on a safety data sheet (SDS). The questions include the following:
- Is an SDS a "safe harbor method of transmission" for a Prop 65 warning?
- Is a Prop 65 warning required to be on the SDS?
- If a company provides a Prop 65 warning on the product label, and wants to voluntarily put a Prop 65 warning on an SDS as well, how must this warning be provided?
ACA has confirmed that an SDS is not a "safe harbor method of transmission" for a Prop 65 warning. The safe harbor methods of transmission are listed in Article 6 under Section 25602 (i.e., internet, catalog, shelf tag, label, electronic device, etc.). In order to take advantage of the safe harbor, companies must warn in accordance with the safe harbor methods of transmission. Any warning provided on an SDS would be voluntary; it is not required.
Because an SDS is not a safe harbor warning method, companies that want to provide warnings on an SDS do not need to follow the safe harbor warning content regulations so long as there is a compliant Prop 65 warning using a safe harbor method of transmission. For example, if a company provides a Prop 65 warning on the product label, and wants to also voluntarily provide a warning on the SDS, the company may use the truncated warning on the SDS.
Regarding pictograms, ACA gained clarification on the following:
- Companies are recommended to use the "reasonable man" test to determine which color of yellow would trigger the need for the Prop 65 pictogram to also be in color.
- OEHHA has released images of the Pictogram online for businesses to use.
- Companies should view the product label as the "entire label" associated with the product. So, if the product has yellow on the front panel, it would trigger the color pictogram requirement even if the warning content is on the back panel or on a separate panel on the label.
Foreign Language Requirement
OEHHA indicated that it is currently developing safe harbor warning text for foreign languages. The agency will likely start with the nine languages included in the BPA Emergency Regulations and add to that list. These include Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean, Hmong, French, Chinese, Cambodian, and Spanish.
Old vs. New Warnings
As the final regulations indicate, companies that are party to a court-ordered settlement or final judgment establishing a warning method or content are still deemed compliant with Prop 65 so long as they are complying with the settlement or final judgment. As such, even if the warning content is the old warning (i.e., no pictogram, no foreign language requirement, etc.), it is still "clear and reasonable" if it is prescribed in the court-ordered settlement or final judgment, and the company was a party to that judgment or settlement.
Blister packages are considered to be the "immediate packages," and as such, the use of the shorter truncated warning on the blister card is allowed under the regulations.
There is no indicated preference on text formatting, other than type size.
Internet and Catalog Sales
"General advertising" or only displaying products either online or in a product catalog does not trigger the need for a Prop 65 warning. A warning would need to be provided online or in a catalog if the website has an e-commerce function, or if there was a method to purchase the product via a catalog.
To view the final Clear and Reasonable Warning regulations and more information, click here.
OEHHA has stated that it is planning to re-open the new regulations for Article 6, Clear and Reasonable Warnings, of the California Code of Regulations under Prop 65. The agency has said that it plans to revisit the rule to implement additional industry-specific warnings and to correct several minor drafting errors.
Nov 16, 2016
Nov 2, 2016
EPA free Webinar Best Practices: State and Community Approaches to Hazardous Materials Source Reduction
Best Practices: State and Community Approaches to Hazardous Materials Source Reduction
November 3, 2016, Time: 1-2 pm CST
Many might expect the often-discussed hotspots for North American e-scrap exports, including places in East Asia, Latin America and Africa, to be listed as top destinations in this exports study. Instead, researchers found many of the countries listed as top destinations are likely waypoints for electronics headed elsewhere.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took the lead in conducting the study on behalf of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a joint U.S.-Canada-Mexico body set up as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Researchers explored the quantities of used desktops, laptops, CRT monitors and flat-panel monitors traveling between the three countries and being exported by them to the rest of the world. It was based on 2010 data.
Researchers found that data limitations made it impossible to pin down exact numbers on e-scrap exports. For example, they were able to determine that the U.S. exported between 1.1 million and 7 million used computers, and 779,000 and 5.7 million used monitors in 2010.
Researchers also encountered export data that listed receiving countries as the final destinations, when it was likely many shipments were moving through those countries en route to other locations. For example, the top five destinations listed for U.S.-generated e-scrap exports (tracked by weight) were Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Venezuela and Italy. Top destinations for scrap from Canada were the U.S., Italy, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and Chile. For Mexico, the top export destinations were the U.S., Netherlands, Colombia, Canada and Venezuela.
"Although cumbersome to record, increased reporting of re-export destinations would greatly improve the accuracy of final destinations for trade flows because it would provide a more realistic depiction of the transactions taking place," according to the report. "The current trade code system can denote only two trade partners."
In addition to recommending the tracking of final destinations of re-exported e-scrap, researchers called for more open access to Canadian and U.S. shipment-level trade data. They also recommended all three countries, including Mexico, provide more accurate sales data. Additionally, they suggested creating trade codes for used products that would allow better tracking, because the current export codes don't distinguish between used and new electronics.
The U.S. Census Bureau, which records data on U.S. imports and exports, is considering adding a "used electronics" category to the automated export tracking system.
December 8, 2016
Empire Screen Printing, N520 Marco Rd, Onalaska, WI
(Waste360) While Walmart Stores Inc. has been working toward a zero waste goal for at least a decade, the company is now hoping to motivate its suppliers to consider sustainability and recyclability in product packaging. By targeting three main areas—packaging optimization, sustainable sourcing and increased recycling—Walmart is looking to help make packaging more sustainable, while continuing to keep product prices low.
Last week, at a Sustainable Packaging Summit, Walmart released its Sustainable Packaging Playbook, a guidebook for suppliers to improve packaging sustainability. Hundreds of Walmart suppliers and merchants attended the meeting and viewed the playbook, which gave suppliers a clearer picture on what the leading retailer is looking for in terms of packaging sustainability.
Walmart says the Playbook can help suppliers reduce cost, as well as improve their Sustainability Index score. Developed in collaboration with The Sustainability Consortium(TSC)—an organization dedicated to improving sustainability of consumer products—the index gives Walmart suppliers the opportunity to highlight important steps they are taking toward sustainability. It also helps suppliers improve their Index score by demonstrating a quantified environmental impact reduction through those measures.
Zach Freeze, director of strategic initiatives for sustainability at Walmart says the hope is to keep it simple for suppliers. The playbook, he says, states the direction and the priorities at Walmart so suppliers, merchants, and everyone on the procurement side can understand a bit more about what's important for sustainable packaging. The book also gives them details and examples on what that means.
"For us it's kind of a re-ignition of sustainable packaging and bringing it back into focus for people in our business and the buyers who provide products to us," Freeze says. "It just clearly states what we mean by sustainable packaging and what we are encouraging them to do."
The playbook deals with sustainable sourcing by encouraging suppliers to maximize recycled and sustainably sourced renewable content, while enhancing the health of the materials they use in their packaging.
Walmart also wants suppliers to optimize design by finding ways to reduce unnecessary packaging materials, such as extra boxes, ties or layers, while still protecting the product.
"Don't over pack. Don't under pack. Get it right," he says.
The company also is encouraging suppliers to increase recyclable content in packaging, while working to improve infrastructure for hard-to-recycle materials. Additionally, Walmart wants suppliers to clearly communicate recyclability by using consumer-friendly labels, such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition's How2Recycle label.
"Walmart has done some really amazing stuff on sustainability, on packaging and food waste recovery. They have clearly done some very good work on it," says Chaz Miller, director of policy/advocacy for the National Waste & Recycling Association, in Washington, D.C.
But Walmart is a company that sells items to the public, he says.
"Whatever changes this makes for Walmart packaging, their customers buy those packages and have to make those purchasing decisions," he says.
Freeze says he thinks the majority of customers want to do the right thing where recycling is concerned, they just need help to do it. That's where labeling comes in to play.
"Packaging is very important for sustainability. Hopefully the customer will appreciate that information and hopefully put it to use. Then we'll start to see even better recycling numbers across the U.S. on materials being recycled. That's the ultimate goal. It is: how do we help the customer out, and how do we drive the materials to be recycled."
Studies show, says Freeze, the majority of consumers assume unlabeled packaging it is not recyclable.
The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), the national trade association representing companies who acquire, reprocess and sell much of the post-consumer plastic processing capacity in North America, thinks the Walmart's focus on packaging sustainability will impact both suppliers and the retail industry.
"We think it is huge. We think it's going to have a huge impact on brand owners on the way they design their packages," says Steve Alexander, executive director of APR.
Alexander, who participated in Walmart's meeting last week, gave a presentation on the association's Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability, which APR describes as a comprehensive, user-friendly resource outlining the plastics recycling industry's recommendations in the current marketplace.
Alexander says the guidelines also will impact the plastics recycling industry as demand increases. By Walmart placing the guidelines on packaging, there's going to be more demand for materials from the recycling industry, which then will go back through the chain and encourage more collection materials, he says.
"So for us, we think this could have a very large impact—not just on sustainability in general, but certainly for the plastics recycling industry; we think this could go a long way toward not just enhancing the demand for recycled products but also encouraging brand owners to design their packaging so they are compatible with recycling," he says.
The three focus area – packaging optimization, increased recycling and sustainable sourcing—not strictly compatible goals, Miller says.
"Some of what I see here is Walmart trying to work its way through the tension between sustainable materials management, source reduction and recyclability. And at the same time and make sure that their customers, the public who comes in and buys things from Walmart, goes along with those changes. At the end of the day, it's what their customers buy that determines how effective what Walmart does will be."
Miller says Walmart can only drive so much change. It's up to the public to accept it. For example, the EPA says flexible packaging is a very green product when you look at the overall footprint, but flexible packaging is not recyclable.
"I don't think Walmart is going to stop selling products in flexible packaging."
If their goal is sustainability, recycling is one aspect but by no means is it the only aspect.