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RCRA Recycling for Scrap Metal Powders

Posted on 5/15/2017 by Roger Marks and Ross Kellogg

An EPA letter of interpretation dated February 24, 2017 was made available recently in which the Agency responds to questions about recycling scrap metal. The interpretation answers a request that asked whether or not “items consisting of scrap tantalum anodes, wires, pellets, pins, and powders” may be excluded from hazardous waste import/export requirements when recycled in line with 40 CFR 261.4(a)(13).

What Is Scrap Metal Under RCRA?

RCRA Scrap metal recyclingUnder the RCRA hazardous waste rules, processed or unprocessed scrap metal may be excluded from the definition of solid waste (DSW) under the exclusions for processed scrap metal at 40 CFR 2614(a)(13) or other scrap metal products at 40 CFR 261.6(a)(3)(ii).

40 CFR 261.1(c)(6) defines “scrap metal” as “bits and pieces of metal parts (e.g., bars, turnings, rods, sheets, wire) or metal pieces that may be combined together with bolts or soldering (e.g., radiators, scrap automobiles, railroad box cars), which when worn or superfluous can be recycled. “

Recycling Scrap Metal Under RCRA

In its interpretation letter, EPA clarifies that scrap metal anodes, wires, pellets, and pins meet the definition of “scrap metal” above and may therefore be excluded from regulation under RCRA when recycled legitimately per 40 CFR 260.43. 

What About Metal Powders?

Metal powders, however, are a bit different. In powder form, metals pose a higher risk than the wires, pellets, pins, and anodes addressed above. Metal powders may be flammable or even self-reactive and are more susceptible to release during handling,

Therefore, in order for hazardous metal powders to be excluded from EPA’s definition of solid waste (and therefore RCRA), they “must be ‘agglomerated’ in such a way that the agglomerated powders physical resemble other types of scrap metal (i.e., bits and pieces of metal parts).”
Read the full RCRA interpretation here.  

Master the RCRA Recycling Rules

Have questions about recycling or reclaiming hazardous secondary materials under RCRA? The new RCRA Recycling Reliefs Online Course will guide you through the latest RCRA hazardous waste recycling rules—including the 2015 changes to EPA’s definition of solid waste. Only $99!

Final Countdown to the Generator Improvements Rule!

This is it! Historic updates to the RCRA hazardous waste requirements for large, small, and conditionally exempt (very small) generators TAKE EFFECT IN TWO WEEKS. The updated rules will have a major impact on the way your site manages hazardous waste. 

If you’re not yet up to speed on all of the changes coming on May 30, now is the time to prepare. Lion instructors will be covering many of these changes and providing resources to help you maintain compliance at the RCRA Hazardous Waste Management Workshops in Portsmouth, Albany, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Hartford, Northern NJ, and Rochester next month. 

Can’t attend the workshop? On May 23, join a full-time Lion instructor for the FINAL Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements webinar before the new rules take effect. In 90 minutes, we cover the RCRA update you need to know and help you ensure seamless, ongoing RCRA compliance. Sign up here.

Tags: EPA, hazardous waste, RCRA, recycling

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