Hazardous Waste Export-Import Revisions. Oct. 19, 2015. EPA is proposing to amend existing regulations for import/export of hazardous wastes. New rule would enable use of electronic documents. See EPA updates
Hazardous wastes are sometimes shipped to or from other countries for treatment,
disposal, or recycling. For the United States, the vast majority of this
waste trade occurs with Canada and Mexico, but the U.S. also engages in hazardous
waste trade with other countries. Importers and exporters of hazardous wastes
must comply with applicable U.S. laws and regulations, which include regulations
under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
International Requirements that Apply to the United
States for International Trade in Hazardous Wastes
The U.S. government is currently a party to several international agreements
concerning international trade in hazardous wastes. They are:
- an agreement among the 29 member countries of the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) governing trade in recyclable wastes
- U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico bilateral agreements
- U.S. Malaysia and U.S./Costa Rica import bilateral agreements
These agreements are legally binding on the governments that are party to
them, but not on the regulated community. Rather, the regulated community
is subject to the federal regulations that implement these agreements. Although
not identical, these agreements share the basic principles of notification
to the government of the exporting country, government-to government notification
to the importing government, and the consent of the importing government
for exports and imports of hazardous wastes.
Under this approach, the exporting country provides notice to the importing,
and in some cases the transit country(s) about a proposed export of hazardous
waste. The importing country (and transit country) then has the opportunity
to consent or object to the proposed shipment. The exporting country may
not allow the export to proceed until the importing country consents to it.
Exporters of routine shipments to the same foreign destination may provide
one notification covering as long as twelve months. In such cases, the importing
country (and transit country) usually provides consent covering the same
period of time.
Under the international agreements to which the U.S. is party, each country
designates an agency to control its international trade in hazardous waste.
For the U.S., it is EPA:
- EPA examines export notifications and forwards them to the importing
and transit countries. For exports to Mexico, the Department of State serves
as the official diplomatic channel between the two countries.
- EPA provides U.S.
consent or objection to proposed hazardous waste imports. In performing
this duty, EPA relies on the recommendations of its regional
offices on whether to consent or object, because these offices have access
to permit and inspection information about the receiving facilities which
allows them to better evaluate a facility's ability to property handle
a specific hazardous waste shipment.
The Resource Conservation
and Recovery Act (RCRA) establishes regulations for all handlers of hazardous
waste, from those persons that first produce
the waste or first subject the waste to regulation to those persons that
treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste. These regulations include
the generator requirements in Part 262, the standards for transporting hazardous
waste in Part 263, and the general operating conditions, unit standards,
and permitting requirements for treatment, storage, and disposal facilities
(TSDFs) in Parts 264, 265, and 270. Importers and exporters of hazardous
waste also have special requirements under the RCRA program. These regulatory
requirements vary depending on the type of waste managed, the foreign country
receiving or shipping the waste, and the manner in which the waste will be
managed. Much like the hazardous waste identification process, there
are a series of questions importers and exporters must answer to determine
their applicable regulatory requirements. The RCRA import and export
regulations apply only when the following two statements are true.
I. The waste must be a hazardous waste under RCRA
Importers and exporters
must know if the waste they handle is hazardous under RCRA. If the waste
is not a hazardous waste or is exempt from regulation,
the RCRA import and export regulations do not apply. Therefore, RCRA
import or export regulations do not apply to the following materials:
that are not defined as solid wastes in ¤261.2
that are not defined as hazardous waste in ¤261.3
that are specifically excluded from the definition of solid and hazardous
waste in ¤261.4
As an example of item 3, suppose a U.S. generator produces a characteristic sludge that will be reclaimed in Canada. In this case, the generator need not comply
with the export requirements because the sludge is not a solid waste. (See Table
1 earlier in this Chapter.) RCRA excludes characteristic sludges
that are reclaimed from the definition of solid waste in ¤261.2, whether
the reclamation occurs within or outside of the United States. EPA
discusses this concept in the Federal Register from April 12, 1996:
"The Agency wishes to point out that a relatively narrow set of hazardous
secondary materials are not defined as solid wastes and, therefore, are not
hazardous wastes when recycled in a particular manner (e.g., listed commercial
chemical products that are to be reclaimed). Thus, these materials
would not be subject to the export requirements. Exporters of such
materials, nevertheless, should keep in mind that they have the burden of
proof to show that such materials are to be recycled in a manner bringing
them outside the scope of solid waste (61 FR 16290, 16307; April 12, 1996)."
In a different scenario,
suppose a U.S. generator produces a listed hazardous waste that is destined
for a laboratory in Germany. The laboratory
will conduct a treatability study on this waste and the U.S. generator will
comply with all applicable requirements for handling and shipping the samples
in ¤261.4(e). Is the generator required to comply with the export regulations? Section
261.4(e) exempts generators and sample collectors from the RCRA regulations
provided that the generator complies with the conditions listed in this section. Therefore,
the U.S. generator shipping the sample to Germany under the conditions in
'261.4(e) need not comply with the export requirements (Memo, Lowrance to
Seeger; May 24, 1992).
II. The waste must be subject to Federal RCRA manifesting procedures
or to Federal (or State equivalent) universal waste management standards
under Part 273.
In order for the import
or export regulations to apply, materials must be a hazardous waste under
RCRA and must be subject to manifesting. Note
that although shipments of universal wastes do not require a hazardous waste
manifest, they are still subject to applicable import and export requirements. (Currently,
the Federal universal wastes include hazardous batteries, thermostats, pesticides,
must prepare a hazardous waste manifest to accompany shipments of hazardous
waste during transportation and delivery to a facility
designated on the manifest. However, a subset of hazardous wastes are
not subject to manifesting. EPA
provides examples of hazardous wastes that are not subject to the import
or export requirements because shipments of these wastes do not require a
"Thus, exports of any hazardous wastes that are exempt from the manifest
requirements of Part 262, Subpart B would not be subject to any of the export
requirements. Accordingly, such hazardous wastes as samples, residues
in empty containers, wastes generated in transport vehicles, certain wastes
when recycled, and wastes generated by small quantity generators of less
than 100 kg/mo would be excluded from the export requirements (51 FR 28664,
28669, August 8, 1986)."
One exception to this
rule is for industrial ethyl alcohol that is shipped to a foreign country
for reclamation. Although shipments of industrial
ethyl alcohol do not require a manifest, exporters of this material must
comply with the primary exporter requirements (¤261.6(a)(3)).
Once importers and exporters
determine that they handle a hazardous waste subject to manifesting requirements,
they are subject to the import and export
requirements. But where are these requirements located in the regulations? Part
262 designates the requirements for generators of hazardous waste and special
requirements for imports and exports of hazardous waste. Part 262,
Subparts E and F establish regulations for exports and imports, respectively. In
addition, Part 262, Subpart H establishes regulations for imports and exports
of hazardous waste within the OECD. How do importers and exporters
decide which requirements to follow? The next section discusses this
matter in more detail.
RCRA Regulations and U.S. Exporters
U.S. exporters of hazardous
wastes must comply with all applicable domestic laws and regulations (federal
and/or state), which include regulations under
RCRA, contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). In general terms,
a U.S. exporter must prepare and submit certain important documents during
the three phases of an export:
- Before a shipment proceeds. An exporter must submit to EPA headquarters
in Washington, D.C., a notification of intent to export. This notification
describes the type and amount of waste, its itinerary, the number of shipments
expected, and the period during which shipments will occur. EPA forwards
this notification to the government(s) of all concerned countries. The
government of the importing country must consent to the shipment before
it may proceed. The U.S. exporter may not allow a shipment to proceed unless
EPA has notified it of the consent of the importing country, as well as
that of the transit country, if required.
- While a shipment is in transit. An exporter must attach the uniform
hazardous waste manifest to the shipment (while the waste is traveling
within the U.S.), the acknowledgment of consent from the importing and
transit countries, and certain additional information (in OECD situations).
- Annual reporting.
An exporter must file an annual report with EPA headquarters in Washington,
D.C., on March 1 of each year. This report
summarizes the exporter's shipments for the previous calendar year.
In July 2010, EPA revised RCRA regulations for spent lead-acid batteries (SLABs) to add export notification and consent requirements to provide stricter controls and greater transparency for exports of SLABs to any country, and to ensure that the batteries are sent to countries and reclamation facilities in those countries that can manage the SLABs in an environmentally sound manner. More information.
RCRA Regulations and U.S. Importers
Once the hazardous waste arrives in the U.S., importers must comply with
all applicable domestic laws and regulations (federal and/or state). These
include regulations under RCRA, contained in 40CFR Part 262, and Subparts
F and H. For example, a U.S. importer must prepare a manifest reflecting
the foreign generator and the U.S. importer. In OECD situations, there may
be other requirements, such as some additional tracking information which
accompanies the shipment until it arrives at the intended U.S. receiving
In addition, at least four weeks before receipt of the waste in the U.S.,
the receiving facility must notify the appropriate EPA Regional Administrator
in the Region where the facility is located.
In July 2010, EPA revised RCRA regulations regarding the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes for recovery among countries belonging to the OECD to conform to legally required revisions made by the OECD. These changes affected imports of hazardous waste, including:
- requiring U.S. recovery facilities to submit a certificate after recovery of the waste has been completed,
- adding provisions to ensure that hazardous wastes are returned to the country of export in a more timely and documented manner when it is necessary to do so, and
- adding new procedures for imported hazardous wastes that are initially managed at U.S. accumulation and transfer facilities to better track and document that subsequent recovery by a separate recycling facility is completed in an environmentally sound manner.
The U.S. treatment/storage/disposal facility (TSDF) receiving a RCRA manifested hazardous waste shipment from a foreign source is required to send EPA a copy of import consent documentation that confirms EPA’s consent for that import along with a copy of the RCRA manifest for the import shipment. The matched import consent documentation and RCRA manifest must be submitted by the U.S. TSDF within 30 days of shipment delivery. Consent documentation supplied by EPA will clearly identify the waste stream, the specific foreign source, and the allowable time period and maximum quantity of waste.
State Hazardous Waste Regulations
is a federal law, it is mostly implemented by state environmental agencies. State
authorization is a rulemaking process through which EPA delegates the primary
responsibility of implementing the RCRA hazardous waste program to individual
states in lieu of EPA. This process ensures national consistency and minimum
standards while providing flexibility to states in implementing rules.
Currently, 50 states and territories have been granted authority to implement
the base, or initial, program. State RCRA programs must always be at least
as stringent as the federal requirements, but states can adopt more stringent
requirements as well.
Use the hazardous
waste state locator to find state
regulations, along with permit forms, guidance, contact information and
other helpful resources.
Additional Hazardous Waste Resources
U.S. EPA Hazardous Waste Import/Export Requirements. Resources to assist importers and exporters of hazardous wastes to understand and comply with RCRA requirements for transboundary shipment of hazardous wastes. Provides an overview of related regulations with links to specific rules and documents.
Environment Canada - Import/Export
of Hazardous Waste. To improve the management of hazardous
wastes, the federal government has put in place an effective system to
control the export and import of such wastes at border points. This
fact sheet has been created as a general overview of how the Export
and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations (EIHWR) help Canada better
manage hazardous waste effectively.
Waste Agreements. The United States is party to major international
waste agreements with Canada, Mexico, and the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD). More limited agreements are in place
with Costa Rica, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In addition, the U.S. is
a signatory to the Basel Convention. These agreements between the U.S.
and other countries impact the handling of wastes shipped across national
International Resources. Links
to resources relevant to international information about waste policy, and
inform about waste-related meetings and conferences of international significance.
Code of Federal Regulations. Importers and exporters of hazardous wastes must
comply with applicable domestic laws and regulations, which include regulations
under RCRA, contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), at 40
CFR Part 262, Subparts E and H.
The Border Compliance Assistance
Center. The Border Center provides information on the transport
of cargo from Mexico into the United States, with special attention to
solid and hazardous wastes.