EPA Proposes Deadlines for Acting on Petition to Regulate PVC as Hazardous Waste
- Under a proposed consent decree, EPA would be required to make a preliminary decision on a petition to regulate PVC as hazardous waste by January 20, 2023, and a final decision by April 12, 2024.
- EPA is accepting public comment on the proposed consent decree until June 3, 2022.
- Regulating discarded PVC as hazardous waste could have significant, far-reaching implications for PVC manufacturers and users, as well as waste management and recycling companies.
- EPA is expected to issue information requests to PVC industry stakeholders to obtain data on PVC waste generation, management, and disposal.
EPA is proposing to enter into a consent decree setting deadlines for the agency to act on a pending petition to list polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned EPA for regulation of PVC under RCRA and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA denied CBD’s TSCA petition within 90 days of receipt, but the agency has yet to act on CBD’s RCRA petition. Claiming that the agency’s delay has been unreasonable, CBD sued EPA in August 2021 to compel the agency to take action on CBD’s RCRA petition. The parties are now proposing to resolve that lawsuit by entering into a consent decree that would require EPA to make a preliminary decision on CBD’s petition by January 20, 2023, and a final decision by April 12, 2024. EPA is accepting public comment on the proposed consent decree until June 3, 2022.
While it remains to be seen whether EPA will propose to grant CBD’s RCRA petition and move forward with rulemaking, hazardous waste regulation of PVC could have significant, far-reaching implications for anyone that generates, stores, transports, or otherwise manages discarded PVC, from PVC producers all the way down the line to facilities that dispose of or recycle PVC. Accordingly, PVC industry stakeholders should monitor this matter closely and consider opportunities for early engagement with EPA to ensure that the agency is considering credible and comprehensive data and the economic implications of classifying one of the world’s most widely used plastics as hazardous waste. Stakeholders should also ensure that they are prepared to respond to information requests from EPA, which the agency is expected to issue as it goes about building an administrative record to support its decision. EPA will be looking to compile information on PVC waste generation, management, and disposal, as well as ecological and human health data on PVC exposure and degradation.