The cradle-to-grave scheme is at the heart of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. RCRA, after first defining what a “hazardous waste” is and requiring permits for facilities accepting these materials, then requires a manifest to accompany the movement of the waste from the point of generation – through transportation – and then finally to the “destination facility.” This manifest, completed by the generator, links a defined hazardous waste with a facility permitted to manage it.

On June 30, 2018, the cradle-to-grave scheme, like newspapers, books, and board games, will go digital. On this day, EPA’s new E-Manifest Rule will become effective. Here are twelve things you should know about this rule:

  1. The E-manifest was not EPA’s idea. Rather, EPA is carrying out the directives set by Congress in the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act. 42 U.S.C. 6339(g)
  2. It will take effect in all states, whether the state is authorized to run the RCRA program or not. Authorized states must amend their rules to adopt the program.
  3. The rule will cover not only the well-known federal RCRA hazardous wastes (i.e., the characteristic “D” codes and the listed “F,””K”, “P”, and “U” codes) but also state-only hazardous wastes (such as waste oil in Massachusetts) and PCBs.
  4. Paper manifests, at least for a time, may still be used, but at a price. Here are the current estimated costs for different types of manifest under the program: 
  5. Only the receiving facility pays the fee to the government not the generator or transporter. Undoubtedly, however, many of these receiving facilities may be looking to pass on the costs to their customers.
  6. EPA intends to institute a phase out of paper manifests after three years of operation. During this phase-out period, a generator may still use a paper manifest but the receiving facility will be expected to transfer the data in digital format to EPA.
  7. The receiving facility must pay the fee even if it rejects a waste shipment back to the generator. If the rejected shipment is sent instead to an alternate TSD, that facility pays the fee.
  8. EPA plans to revise the fee schedule every 2 years, which will include higher fees for paper manifests if electronic manifest use does not reach 75% in 4 years. The new fee schedules will not require rulemaking.
  9. EPA’s goal is to eliminate paper manifests after 5 years.
  10. EPA estimates the program will result in $66 million in costs savings, though most of the savings appear to result from decreased burdens on state and federal governments. See 83 Fed. Reg. at 446.
  11. Generators, at least for a time, will still need to prepare Biennial reports, though these are one of the burdens the rule is intended to eliminate.
  12. Users will register for the E-manifest system at RCRAinfo. This system is not up yet.

So now even the RCRA Manifest has entered the digital age. Stay tuned for further updates on this rule.