Environmental Compliance


The recycled materials industry 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 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.

Shredders and VOC Emissions

Ferrous Shredder
Metal shredding operations have the potential to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and depending upon the amount emitted have the potential to trigger regulatory and/or permit requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and associated state regulations.

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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. ReMA 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 ReMA’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 ReMA for its members.

State General Permits

Important Stormwater Update: Federal 2021 MSGP

On January 15, 2021, U.S. EPA finalized the Federal 2021 MSGP. The 2021 MSGP was published in the Federal Register on February 19, 2021 and became effective March 1, 2021 in DC, ID, MA, NH, and NM, as well as federal areas.

Current 2015 MSGP permittees must submit their Notice of Intent (NOIs) by May 30, 2021 via NeT MSGP. Prior to submitting the 2021 MSGP NOI, Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) must be updated to meet the 2021 MSGP Part 6 requirements.

The 2021 MSGP contains several new requirements or changes relative to the 2015 MSGP:

  • Posting a sign outside your facility with your MSGP information (Part 1.3.5);
  • Consideration of stormwater control measures for major storm/extreme weather events (2.1.1);
  • Indicator monitoring for pH, Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), Total Suspended Solids (TSS) for Subsector N2 (MRFs) ( and 8.N.6);
  • Indicator monitoring for polycyclic aromatics hydrocarbons (PAHs) because of use of coal-tar sealants in areas of industrial activity (;
  • Benchmark monitoring (4.2.2 and 8.N.7);
  • Discharges to impaired waters with no Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) (;
  • Additional Implementation Measures in follow-up to a benchmark exceedance (5.2); and
  • Alternative Facility-Specific Benchmarks for Aluminum and Copper (

This presentation reviews these new or different provisions in the 2021 MSGP and provides a list of 2021 MSGP resources.

The 2021 MSGP was substantially shaped by a petition against the 2015 MSGP and the subsequent legal settlement (see earlier report). The settlement guided the development of the Proposed 2020 MSGP, largely by way of an EPA-sponsored study by the National Academies. ReMA addressed the National Academies on the challenges of industrial stormwater management as part of the study process. Much later, ReMA submitted substantial comments on the Proposed 2020 MSGP because of its many problematic provisions. ReMA’s comments eased several of these proposed problematic provisions (e.g., Universal monitoring, onerous aspects of the Additional Implementation Measures, MSGP eligibility related to Superfund sites and coal-tar sealants) prior to the Federal 2021 MSGP being finalized. 

Members with questions or needing assistance should contact David L. Wagger, Chief Scientist / Director of Environmental Management by e-mail or phone at 202-662-8533.

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.

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

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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

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 (since 2003, and accidental in ReMA’s view). The CDR regulations can be found at 40 CFR Part 711.

CDR applies to recyclers if they import to any one US facility during a calendar year 25,000 pounds or more (yes, pounds) of scrap metal by element (e.g., copper, aluminum); alloys are considered mixtures of metal elements, except that steel (mainly iron) is considered a “metal element”. Exporting does not cause CDR to apply. Typical recycling activities, such as shearing, chopping, baling, and shredding, do not cause CDR to apply; neither does melting one metal from another (e.g., a sweat furnace).

ReMA has provided below a new CDR Issue Update (June 22, 2023) with more details about CDR compliance for recyclers for the 2024 reporting period from June 1 to September 30, 2024. According to EPA (see Federal Register notice), “EPA is updating guidance materials ahead of the 2024 CDR reporting cycle and plans to publish a consolidated guidance website to improve access to all of the CDR guidance. However, existing content ahead of any such updates is generally applicable to the 2024 CDR reporting cycle.” EPA’s CDR website can be found at www.epa.gov/cdr.

CDR Issue Update NEW 230622

Have Questions?

David L. Wagger, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist
Director of Environmental Management
(202) 662-8533