Federal Laws

There are three main federal laws which apply to ballast recycling:

1. TSCA

The most critical regulation is the Toxic Substance Control Act, or “TSCA” which is an EPA law which regulates PCB disposal. Under 40 CFR Section 761.65, TSCA sets extremely strict standards for most PCB’s but provides an exemption for non-leaking, small capacitors. A small capacitor is defined as one having less than 3 pounds of dielectric fluid, and/or less than 100 cubic inches. Each ballast contains a capacitor with approximately 1 ounce of PCB fluid. As TSCA allows for the disposal of non-leaking capacitors in a municipal solid waste landfill, PCB ballasts are technically allowed to be disposed of in this way. However, leaking capacitors must be disposed of only at a TSCA permitted facility. In addition, ballasts which contain potting material that is contaminated with over 50 ppm PCB’s must be completely disposed of. These disposal regulations are enforced by the U.S. EPA and its regional offices.

When TSCA was written in 1976, the authors did not foresee the large volumes of PCB ballasts that were going to be disposed of due to utility rebate programs and large lighting retrofit programs. Prior to the establishment of such programs, ballasts were discarded very infrequently due to their long life, usually ten to thirty years. Stricter regulation of PCB ballasts is still being considered.

2. CERCLA

The second law which regulates PCB’s is the Comprehensive Environmental Compliance and Liability Act of 1980, or CERCLA which is also known as the Superfund law. Under this law any release or even threat of release of a hazardous substance constitutes a “CERCLA release”, and requires immediate cleanup action and notification by all responsible parties. As a result, discarding over 16 ballasts in a municipal landfill, which is equal to an aggregate of over one pound of PCB’s, technically creates a Superfund liability.

3. DOT

Thirdly, the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the safe transport of hazardous chemicals on federal highways. Ballasts must be packed in standard drums and marked with a Class 9 label. They may be transported using a common carrier in most states, but a number of state laws require use of a hazardous waste hauler.

Recent changes in the regulations for disposal of ballasts:

  • The PCB MEGA Rule for the disposal of PCB

LIBRARY

  • Code of Federal Regulations for PCB and UWR (exact wording of the regulations)
  • EPA PCB Webpages
  • EPA’s PCB Home page
  • PCB Final Rule Summary and links (effective 08/29/99)
  • Mega Rule (Federal Register 40 CFR 761 – Dec.10, 1999)

There are three main federal laws which apply to lamp recycling:

1. RCRA

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires that generators test a representative sample of mercury-containing lamps to determine if they should be treated as hazardous waste. Mercury concentration is tested using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching procedure (TCLP), which attempts to replicate the leaching of water from a municipal waste landfill. Lamps must be managed as hazardous waste if the mercury concentration exceeds 0.2 mg per liter. In addition, lamps must be managed as hazardous waste if they are not tested and proven non-hazardous.

2. CERCLA

The Comprehensive Environmental Compliance and Liability Act of 1980, or CERCLA, which is also known as the Superfund law, states that all generators of mercury-containing lamp waste could be held liable for any future Superfund cleanups at a land disposal site. In addition, the law requires immediate notification and cleanup action for any disposal of one pound or more of mercury in a 24 hour period.

3. UWR

The USEPA adopted the UWR in May 1995 (40 CFR Part 273). At that time the EPA allowed individual states to adopt their own UWRs or other local policies addressing lamp disposal. Most states have already adopted some policy to prohibit lamp disposal in municipal landfills and are granting handling exemptions to generators who recycle their lamps. On July 6, 1999 the Federal EPA added fluorescent lamps to the Universal Waste Rule (UWR); this went into effect on January 2000. This rule is designed to reduce the amount of hazardous waste items in the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream, encourage recycling and proper disposal of certain common hazardous wastes, and reduce the regulatory burden on businesses that generate these wastes.

LIBRARY

EPA UWR WEBPAGES:

  • Universal Waste Rule Fact Sheet (effective 01.06.00)
  • Universal Waste Rule (Federal Register 40 CFR 260, 261, 264 – 07.06.99)

FEDERAL REGULATION AFFECTING FLUORESCENT & MERCURY HANDLING & DISPOSAL

Until recently, federal regulations have made it difficult and expensive to properly manage used lamps and as a result most have ended up in municipal landfills. Now the USEPA is including fluorescent and mercury lamps in the Universal Waste Rule (UWR). The new changes in the federal regulation are designed to reduce the amount of hazardous waste items in landfills and encourage recycling by minimizing the cost and regulatory burden on generators.

UNIVERSAL WASTE RULE

The US EPA adopted the UWR in May, 1995 (40 CFR Part 273). At that time EPA allowed individual states to adopt their own UWRs or other local policies addressing lamp disposal. Most states have already adopted some policy to prohibit lamp disposal in municipal landfills and are granting handling exemptions to generators who recycle their lamps. Now EPA is including lamps in 40 CFR 273.

The UWR creates several new definitions and requirements for those who generate or handle lamps.

Generator: Anyone who creates waste mercury lamps (a RCRA characteristic waste > 0.2mg/1 TCLP). A generator is also considered a SQHUW or LQHUW depending on how many lamps are produced in a year.

Small Quantity Handler (SQHUW): A generator or third party who accumulates <5,000 kg at a time, up to one year. No EPA registration is required. Training and information on handling mercury lamps and emergency procedures is required. Large Quantity Handler (LQHUW): A generator or third party who accumulated >5,000 kg at a time, up to one year. EPA or state registration of ID# is required. Training and information on handling mercury lamps and emergency procedures is required. Proper marking and labeling is required.

Transporter: One who transports UW lamps for

UW Transfer Facility: A permitted processing, recycling or disposal facility.

Generator: Small Quantity Handlers, Large Quantity Handlers and Transporters are not allowed to dispose of lamps into municipal landfills, and must either:

1. Manage them as a fully regulated hazardous waste with all the RCRA requirement and the HW manifest.
2. Recycle them at a permitted Destination Facility with reduced requirements and lower costs using a bill of lading.

UWR BASIC PRINCIPLES

** Optional for households and CESQGs (<100kg/mo) May manage lamps as a UW or a RCRA exemption.
** Prohibit all but the smallest quantities (only households and CESQGs) from traditional municipal landfills. Require management in permitted RCRA landfills with strict or by recycling at a permitted destination facility. This is less burdensome because most business won’t have to register with the EPA to obtain a generator ID # or do the reporting
** Require full regulatory compliance for hazardous waste if recycling is not chosen.. Including registration with the EPA use of the HW manifest and certified HW hauler, and federal and state reporting requirements for hazardous waste landfilling at RCRA Subtitle C facility. This option could greatly increase administrative, shipping and disposal costs, as well as increase the potential long term liability for landfilling cleanups.
** Exempt whole lamps from the HW manifest requirements and allow the use of a Bill of Lading (BOL) for shipment if they are sent for recycling. Not require the analytical testing or reporting of whole lamps destined for recycling.
** Allows the use of a common carrier instead of a certified hazardous waste hauler to shipment to a recycling facility. This lowers shipping costs.
** Allows anyone to collect lamps provided they are taken to a destination facility. Allow generators and haulers to store lamps in any amount up to one year.
** Imposed minimal training and labeling requirements on generators and haulers.