- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Hazardous Waste Export-Import Revisions Final Rule to streamline reporting requirements and reduce the number of shipments being sent to unregulated facilities or potentially abandoned.
- The rule will link the consent to export with separate electronic information sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in an effort to make compliance monitoring more efficient. It will be mandatory to submit electronic reports directly to EPA to allow more information sharing with state agencies, companies and the public.
- Facilities will also be required to recycle or dispose of shipments within one year of receipt to reduce the potential of abandoned waste causing public health hazards. All of these changes will take effect on Dec. 31.
Last year, the EPA's Office of Inspector General found the agency had an "incomplete picture of hazardous waste entering the country" which could possibly result in "unknown human and environmental exposure to toxic substances." This new version of the rule will bring the U.S. into compliance with pre-existing Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development requirements and give the EPA more information on a small though important share of the country's hazardous waste shipments of items such as spent lead acid batteries.
While the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act doesn't cover international hazardous waste shipments these new requirements line up with some of the ideas for updating the law at a recent event in honor of its 40th anniversary. Electronic updates to inspection, permitting and tracking processes were discussed, as well as the need for more focus on circular economy principles in design.
Greater efforts to track international shipments of electronic waste have also been discussed recently for similar reasons of ensuring safe disposal. The U.S. Census Bureau may begin tracking export volumes without details on destination and the Basel Action Network plans to anonymously track some shipments with GPS devices.