EPA established guidelines for what constitutes legitimate recycling and described activities it considers to be illegitimate or sham recycling. Considerations in making this determination include whether the secondary material is effective for the claimed use, if the secondary material is used in excess of the amount necessary, and whether or not the facility has maintained records of the recycling transactions.
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Definition and Factors of Legitimate Recycling
- Legitimate recycling must involve a hazardous secondary material that provides a useful contribution to the recycling process or to a product or intermediate of the recycling process.
- The recycling process must produce a valuable product or intermediate.
- The generator and the recycler must manage the hazardous secondary material as a valuable commodity when it is under their control.
- The product of the recycling process must be comparable to a legitimate product or intermediate.
Use/Reuse Versus Reclamation
RCRA hazardous waste regulation makes an important distinction between materials that are recycled by being used/reused without reclamation and those that must be reclaimed before reuse.
A material is reclaimed if it is processed to recover a usable product, or if it is regenerated. Common hazardous waste reclamation activities involve recovery of spent solvents (e.g., recovery of acetone) or metals (e.g., recovery of lead). An example of a material that is reused without reclamation is emission control dust returned directly to a primary zinc smelting furnace.
By contrast, sham recycling may include situations when a secondary material is Ineffective or only marginally effective for the claimed use; used in excess of the amount necessary; or handled in a manner inconsistent with its use as a raw material or commercial product substitute.