Solid Waste

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in the United States

. EPA’s Definition Of “Solid Waste” For Purposes Of Subtitle C
To determine whether a material is potentially subject to Subtitle C
regulation, EPA has promulgated a regulatory definition of “solid waste.” 40
C.F.R. § 261.2. See generally Ass’n of Battery Recyclers v. EPA, 208 F.3d 1047,
1050-51 (D.C. Cir. 2000). This regulation defines “solid waste” as “any discarded
material” that is not excluded from the definition. 40 C.F.R. § 261.2(a). Excluded
materials are not subject to Subtitle C regulation because, by virtue of their
exclusion, they are not “solid wastes” and therefore not “hazardous wastes.”
A discarded material is any material that is either abandoned, recycled,
inherently waste-like, or (in specified circumstances) a military munition. 40
C.F.R. § 261.2(a)(2)(i). A material is recycled if it is “used, reused, or reclaimed,”
id. § 261.1(c)(7), and a material is reclaimed if it is “processed to recover a usable
product, or if it is regenerated.” Id. § 261.1(c)(4). Since 1980, EPA has
recognized that some materials destined for recycling are not solid waste, because
some recycling practices bear more resemblance to normal manufacturing. See
generally 68 Fed. Reg. 61,558, 61,561 col.3, 61,562 col.2 (Oct. 28, 2003) (JA
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0005, 0006). To recognize this distinction, EPA refers to “hazardous secondary
materials,” a class that includes both materials that are regulated as hazardous
waste when recycled, and materials that are not considered wastes when recycled.
Id. at 61,561 col.1-2 (JA 0005). “Secondary materials” are any materials that are
not the primary product of a manufacturing or commercial process, and can include
byproducts, spent materials, and sludges. 40 C.F.R. § 261.1(c)(1) – (3). A spent
material is “any material that has been used and as a result of contamination can no
longer serve the purpose for which it was produced without processing.” Id. §
261.1(c)(1). The category of secondary materials pertinent to this case is spent
materials that are reclaimed.
Under section 261.2, hazardous secondary materials that are either a sludge
or a by-product exhibiting a characteristic of a hazardous waste, or that are a listed
commercial chemical product, are excluded from the definition of “solid waste”
when they are reclaimed. Id. § 261.2(c)(3) and Table 1. If the hazardous
secondary material being reclaimed is a spent material, or is a sludge or by-product
that is a listed hazardous waste, it is not automatically excluded when reclaimed.
Id. Instead, to be excluded from the definition of solid waste, such hazardous
secondary materials must either have a material-specific exclusion under section
261.4(a), or be granted a variance under sections 260.30 and 260.31. See id. §§
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260.33, 261.2(a)(1). In addition, in the 2008 Rule, EPA adopted several additional
exclusions for reclaimed materials, described below.

Solid Waste in Environmental Law

According to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs hazardous waste and some solid waste, a wide variety of matter is included in the definition of solid waste: garbage, refuse, and sludge from a water treatment plant, water supply plant, or air pollution control facility in solid, semisolid, liquid, or contained gaseous form unless it is expressly excluded from the definition.

In order to be labeled solid waste, the material must also be discarded or abandoned, but that concept, too, is very broad. Intent is important here; if it is no longer being used by the owner, or if the owner does not intend to use it, it is considered discarded or abandoned, even if it actually remains on the owner’s premises.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.

Wrongful Handling or Disposal of Solid or Hazardous Waste

This section discusses generally the subject of Wrongful Handling or Disposal of Solid or Hazardous Waste, how to determine the facts essential to Wrongful Handling or Disposal of Solid or Hazardous Waste, and, to some extent, how to prove it in litigation and defense. Related topics are also addressed.

Finding the law: Solid Waste in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to solid waste, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines solid waste topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.



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