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EPA Seeks Stronger Retail Hazardous Waste Regulation

Volume 2, Issue 6
March 31st, 2014
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The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is gathering information for improving hazardous waste regulation in the retail sector.

Retailer hazardous waste violations are already a hot enforcement issue in areas like California where settlements against big box retailers and chain stores are regularly in the millions of dollars, including recent settlements of $8 million by KMart and $9.9 million by Home Depot.

EPA said it is seeking information on what materials may be affected, the scope of the issues and the options that may exist.

Specifically, the agency is exploring episodic waste generation, transportation and reverse logistics, industry programs for handling hazardous waste, as well as employee training.

EPA already has conducted meetings with the Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and several large retailers and consumer goods manufacturers.

Many of the comments the agency received at these meetings dealt with specific issues like managing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and reverse distribution.

Retail industry hazardous wastes are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which is enforced primarily by the states.

Last year EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice reached agreement with one of the largest retailers to resolve RCRA violations that allegedly occurred across the country.

EPA said that unidentified retailer committed to a comprehensive, corporate-wide waste management program to identify and manage all hazardous wastes generated throughout its retail operations.

It now has a waste management system that requires suppliers to submit product information to a third party for evaluating products to determine their regulatory waste status and transportation classification, as well as a reverse logistics system to track the disposition of all items going through the retailer’s reverse distribution system.

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