Richard Sieg, Regulatory Counsel, Inmar
Imagine a regulatory agency knocking on your door and asking for your waste characterization documentation for every consumer product you sell! That could happen if new EPA proposed rules go into effect. Please read below about the rules and take advantage of this opportunity to influence more reasonable regulations, by clicking on the links to comment to EPA on seriously needed revisions.
As discussed in our last newsletter, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published two proposed rules that would impact the reverse supply chain.  The first proposed rule, theHazardous Waste Generators Improvements Proposed Rule, is intended to improve on the clarity and effectiveness of the hazardous waste rules; the second, theManagement of Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Proposed Rule, is intended to better adapt the hazardous waste regulations to the healthcare environments, such as hospitals (including retail).
We strongly encourage our clients and trade partners to comment on these rules. The comment period is open until Dec. 24, 2015. Clicking the linked rule titles (above and at the end of this article) will connect you directly to the EPA web site where you can comment.
The first rule is the natural outgrowth of the original hazardous waste regulations published in 1980.  What this means is that it suffers from the same flaw as the original rule – it was written with industrial waste in mind and with little consideration of realistic application in the retail environment.
The proposal provides some additional labeling requirements for the generators of hazardous waste, which we believe are unnecessary, especially for retail.  Perhaps the biggest concern is the part of EPA’s proposed provision that appears to require keeping of waste characterization documentation for three years, or perhaps even indefinitely as EPA requests comments on mandating these records until the generator closes.
Requiring retailers to have this level of documentation is an enormously unnecessary burden, considering the fact that one large retailer can have millions of SKUs. In the typical rotation of products through a retailer, the maintenance of current documentation on all products in stock over three years would be a nightmare.
Even worse, the waste characterization requirement for retailers seems to apply to both hazardous and nonhazardous waste.
The natural consequence of the proposed rule would require retailers to be an expert on every manufacturer’s product that it sells, where manufacturers would only have to be experts in their own narrow set of products and processes.  Meanwhile, it is well-recognized that the risks to health, safety and property associated with managing consumer products as waste is much less in retail than in the industrial setting.
The hazardous waste information regulators want from retailers is already available — manufacturers’ hazardous waste information is typically available through a number of online sources, including the manufacturers themselves.  It is simply unnecessary to require each retail location to have and maintain the SDSs for millions of products.
The second proposal is intended to create a regulatory framework specific to the healthcare environment, including retailers who sell certain dietary supplements and/or over-the-counter medicines or legend drugs.  The definition of “pharmaceutical” includes all of these products.  We would suggest that the best management practices for prescription drugs are much different than those for managing OTCs and certain dietary supplements.
There is much more to say about this proposed rule, but that is the purpose of the commenting period.  Please join Inmar as we comment on these two EPA proposed rules. Click the links below to visit the EPA page for each proposed rule and comment before the end of the comment period, Dec. 24, 2015.
Comment now on theHazardous Waste Generators Improvements Proposed Rule
Comment now on theManagement of Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Proposed Rule

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