EPA Taking Comment and ReMA Seeking Input on Used Drum Management and Reconditioning, Including Recycling

Oct 31, 2023, 15:06 PM
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David Wagger
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By way of a Federal Register notice and follow-up deadline extension, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has requested public input on potential regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to “ensure the proper management of used industrial containers that held hazardous chemicals or hazardous waste.” This request is not a rulemaking proposal, but does seek input by Nov. 22, 2023.

Although the ostensible topic is reconditioning of used drums (composed of any material, not just metal), EPA’s information request does consider “Drum End-of-Life Management Facilities (e.g., scrap yards and landfills).” In this case, one potential regulatory option is to “[r]equire containers to be truly empty (not just ‘RCRA empty’) before going to scrap recycling or disposal.” Here, “RCRA empty” means meeting the current criteria in 40 CFR § 261.7, “Residues of hazardous waste in empty containers.” While that option seems equivalent to eliminating § 261.7, another option is to reduce the amount of allowable residual material in containers considered “RCRA empty.” It is not clear that “containers” subject to the resulting changes (regulatory or not) would be limited to obvious drums (to be defined).

EPA is taking specific comment on the following used drum issues (largely verbatim), and ReMA seeks your input on these too for potential response:

  • EOL management of containers with hazardous residues remaining in the containers, including information on the extent that residues in scrapped containers pose an issue for scrap recycling or disposal;
  • Existing industry standards that may help prevent contamination from EOL containers from posing an environmental or public health risk;
  • How EOL issues differ for different types of containers; and
  • Any practical difficulties or unintended consequences that may arise from the possible regulatory solutions to the problem of contaminated scrapped containers.

Lastly, EPA is holding a Virtual Meeting on Nov. 1, 2023 about issues surrounding the management of used industrial containers and the reconditioning of these containers, including recycling processes. Please see here for more meeting information and here for meeting registration.

Input on the issues above or questions should be directed to ReMA Chief Scientist / Director of Environmental Management David Wagger at 202-662-8533 or here.

By way of a Federal Register notice and follow-up deadline extension, the Environmental Protection Agency...
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