On Oct. 7, the EPA issued a final rule addressing the issue of when and how materials can fall outside the definition of “solid waste” under RCRA, specifically, when “recycling” a material will keep it outside that definition. The new rule, at 500 pages, is very long and complex and arrives after more than 20 years of confusion over issues of recycling and 4 years of contentious debate over the proposed rule. The new rule excludes a great deal of recycled material from the definition of solid waste, and therefore from the RCRA regulations, but only under a great many complicated and detailed conditions. The rule will not become effective in any state that is “authorized” under the RCRA “base program” (and most states are) unless and until the sate takes affirmative action to adopt the rule (which the EPA strongly encourages). Judicial review of the new rule will no doubt be forthcoming.

Link to rule, the EPA’s summary and press materials.