- South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, a Republican, signed the Solid Waste Emergency Fund (H4644) into law on May 3, which aims to close a loophole that has allowed sham recyclers of construction and demolition (C&D) debris to stockpile waste.
- The law requires the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to deposit up to $1.5 million into the fund through quarterly payments. The fund will then be used to "address a substantial release or threat of substantial release into the environment of any pollutant or other circumstance which may present an imminent and substantial danger to human health and the environment from a solid waste facility," according to the bill.
- The law also requires collectors of C&D debris to reuse, recycle or transfer at least 75% of the total weight of each separated material type received during a calendar year, or to register with DHEC for a solid waste processing facility permit.
Sham recycling has been a contentious industry practice, as government agencies have worked to apply restrictions, while some industry players have challenged such limitations. In 2017, the D.C. Circuit struck down parts of an Obama-era EPA rule on sham recycling after industry groups criticized the rule as providing too many exemptions around the processing and storage of secondary hazardous materials.
At the same time, global C&D debris volumes are expected to nearly double by 2025, which will increase concerns about environmentally sustainable development. Construction Dive reports that, in some states, C&D debris is impacting groundwater and creating general safety hazards.
The bill's lead sponsor Rep. Chandra Dillard, a Democrat, told The Times and Democrat this fund was created "without raising any taxes," a move that she hopes will "empower local governments in matters of zoning in their communities." Despite some industry pushback, other governments or solid waste departments could follow in the footsteps of South Carolina to crack down on similar loopholes.