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Environmental Compliance


Scrap recycling is a sustainable industry that promotes economic growth while preserving the environment and natural resources. Like any manufacturer, recycling facilities are subject to a number of regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation,
and Liability Act (CERCLA; also known as “Superfund”). However, because the industry produces specification-grade scrap commodities from unprocessed scrap and other scrap materials, some regulatory requirements are unique to the industry.  Environmental regulations of particular relevance to the industry are reviewed below.

Definition of Solid Waste (DSW)

SW The Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) is extremely important and relevant to the industry. DSW is the basis for RCRA regulations, and RCRA has the potential to regulate inbound material that members purchase for feedstock (e.g., unprocessed scrap), recycling processes, and manufactured products (e.g., specification-grade scrap commodities). Materials outside DSW are unregulated and may move freely.
On July 13, 2015, a new set of regulations comes into effect defining what is “legitimate” recycling and therefore not regulated under the hazardous waste provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), all as part of EPA’s new “definition of solid waste” (DSW) rule.

ISRI has created a compliance guidance document for members to assist in documenting that you are a legitimate recycler of scrap metal.  In addition, please find further helpful resources from the EPA and other sources.

Learn More



Stormwater management is one of the most important operational and regulatory issues for the recycling industry because recycling operations are typically outdoors and exposed to precipitation that may flow off-site. Stormwater permits typically affect every aspect of facility operations. ISRI has been an advocate for the industry during the development and renewal of state general permits and the Federal Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) and has developed and provided information to members on stormwater management and compliance. In most cases, members apply for coverage to discharge stormwater under their state general permit; however, members in DC, ID, MA, NH, NM, and US territories apply for coverage under the Federal MSGP. Most state general permits resemble to varying degrees (some almost exactly) the Federal MSGP, but there still is significant variation in requirements across state general permits. For this reason, members should consult ISRI’s list of state stormwater general permits (below) to find their applicable general permit (state or Federal) and associated information. For assistance with stormwater management as required by their permit, members have access to stormwater information, tools, and guidance developed by ISRI for its members.

State General Permits

Important Stormwater Notice

In March 2020, EPA announced availability of the draft Proposed 2020 MSGP for public comment (see Federal Register here). Comments on the Proposed 2020 MSGP are due to EPA by Monday, June 1, 2020 (extended by one month from original notice).

The 2020 MSGP applies directly to facilities in DC, ID, MA, NH, NM, or PR in most cases. However, most states will adopt the 2020 MSGP (or parts of it) in a future revision of their state general permit, so the scope of the 2020 MSGP is national.

The Proposed 2020 MSGP, fact sheet, and other documents, including a redlined Proposed 2020 MSGP, are available in the Federal Docket.  A copy of Proposed 2020 MSGP Presentation webinar slides is available.

On June 1, 2020, ISRI submitted these detailed comments on the Proposed 2020 MSGP.  ISRI expressed opposition to major aspects of the Proposed 2020 MSGP, including the Additional Implementation Measures (AIM) and Universal Benchmark Monitoring, while supporting some aspects of the Proposed 2020 MSGP and related topics, including elimination of the iron benchmark, increasing the aluminum benchmark to reflect its final updated aquatic life criteria, and optional use of a facility-specific, risk-based benchmark for copper. The Gulf Coast, New England, and Rocky Mountain Chapters submitted separate support letters that incorporated these comments. 

ISRI is following up with EPA on our comments and concerns to ensure that EPA considers them for the final 2020 MSGP.

Appliance Recycling


Since 1993, the recycling of small appliances, motor-vehicle air conditioners (MVACs), and MVAC-like appliances has been subject to the Federal Clean Air Act regulations at 40 CFR Part 82, Subpart F, Recycling and Emissions Reduction.

Foremost, under the "venting prohibition" at §82.154(a)(1), it is illegal to "knowingly vent or otherwise release into the environment" chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs; e.g., R-12), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs; e.g., R-22), or their substitutes (e.g., R-134a and R-410A).

Per §82.155(b), recyclers that accept small appliances, MVACs, and MVAC-like appliances for recycling must either: "(1) Recover any remaining refrigerant from the appliance in accordance with" §82.155(a) or "(2) Verify using a signed statement or a contract that all refrigerant that had not leaked previously has been recovered from the appliance or shipment of appliances in accordance with" §82.155(a).

In particular, Option 2, known as verification, has very specific requirements for signed statements and contracts and also for notifying suppliers that refrigerant must be properly recovered per §82.155(a) prior to delivery. "It is a violation of [Subpart F] to accept a signed statement or contract if the person receiving the statement or contract knew or had reason to know that the signed statement or contract is false."

Since 1993, EPA has interpreted these Subpart F regulations in ways that make compliance challenging, especially concerning non-intact appliances and appliance components. There are certain limited situations in which the Subpart F requirements or regulations do not apply.

The June 2020 compliance document provides a concise review of the essential Subpart F requirements and their applicability, including sample language for signed statements and contracts. 

Compliance Requirements for Refrigerant Recovery, June 24 2020 Members Only

ISRI's Guidelines, Oct 23 2017

ISRI's Guidelines

Chemical Data Reporting (CDR)


While Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) has been a TSCA regulation for decades (formerly known as, Inventory Update Reporting), CDR’s potential applicability to recycling operations is relatively new (and accidental in ISRI’s view). CDR applies to recyclers if they import 25,000 pounds or more (yes, pounds) of scrap metal (by element; alloys are considered elemental mixtures) to any one US facility during a calendar year. Typical recycling activities, such as shearing, chopping, baling, and shredding, do not trigger CDR requirements; neither does melting one metal from another (e.g., a sweat furnace). ISRI has provided below a new CDR Issue Update (10/01/2020) to reflect recent changes in the Reporting Deadline (November 30 for 2020 only, at ISRI’s request) and in the Small Manufacturer Exemption (tripled monetary thresholds), as well as other minor updates (e.g., URLs)

CDR Issue Update NEW 201001

Have Questions?

David L. Wagger
Director of Environmental Management
(202) 662-8533