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Recycling Industrial Waste (both Hazardous and Non-Hazardous) and Non-Industrial Hazardous Waste in Texas

Recycling Industrial Waste (both Hazardous and Non-Hazardous) and Non-Industrial Hazardous Waste in Texas

A generator of any waste in Texas must take care to ensure compliance with the regulations of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).  The first step is to determine if the waste generated is an industrial solid waste or a non-industrial solid waste (read:  The Identification of Industrial and Non-Industrial Waste in Texas).  Only hazardous waste from a non-industrial source is subject to TCEQ regulation whereas both hazardous and non-hazardous waste from an industrial source is subject to regulation by the TCEQ.  But no matter whether it is hazardous waste from a non-industrial source or all waste from an industrial source, there is the possibility that, if recycled properly, the waste may be excluded from some or all regulation of the TCEQ.

TCEQ training for hazardous waste personnel

Exemptions from regulation are available for both hazardous and non-hazardous waste

To quote the TCEQ, “The regulations that govern industrial and hazardous waste recycling are fairly complex.”  That, I believe, is a Texas-sized understatement!  These regulations can be very complex, so proceed with caution.  After reading this summary of the existing regulations I suggest you conduct further research (additional sources of information are available at the end of this article).

First of all, as noted in the article cited above, a non-hazardous waste generated at a non-industrial facility is not subject to the regulations of the TCEQ and is therefore open to a multitude of recycling options without concern for regulatory restrictions (unless, of course, the waste becomes a nuisance or danger to public health or the environment).  But let’s assume the non-hazardous non-industrial waste is recycled/disposed of properly and does not become an issue.

That brings us to non-hazardous waste generated at an industrial facility which, while subject to regulation by TCEQ, is not subject to the same level of regulation as is a hazardous waste.  In general, non-hazardous industrial solid waste that is to be recycled is subject only to the following:

  • General Prohibitions of 30 TAC 335.4 which pretty much forbids the waste’s discharge to waters of the state or creating a nuisance or health hazard.
  • Notification Requirements of 30 TAC 335.6, [specifically 335.6(h)] which requires a notification to the TCEQ of your planned recycling activities.
  • The possibility in 30 TAC 335.24(h) that non-hazardous industrial waste to be recycled (aka: nonhazardous recyclable material) may be subject to the more strict requirements of 335.10 through 335.15 if deemed necessary by TCEQ.

If a non-hazardous industrial solid waste can be legitimately recycled by land application [ie. meets the requirements of 30 TAC 335.1(138)(h)], then it will not meet the definition of a solid waste in Texas (aka: non-waste) and will not be subject to TCEQ regulation as a waste at all.  However, compliance with some basic regulations is still required:

  • General Prohibitions of 30 TAC 335.4 (see above)
  • Texas Water Code of 26.121, don’t pollute Texas state waters.
  • The site of land application may be subject to Deed Recordation, refer to 30 TAC 335.5.

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So, what about the recycling exemptions available for hazardous waste from both industrial and non-industrial sources?  Well, that’s complicated, more complicated than can be addressed in this article.  However, in general an exemption from regulation as a hazardous waste is available if a material is recycled by use or reuse.  Conversely – and again, generally speaking – an exemption from regulation as a hazardous waste is not available if the material is recycled by reclamation.  These key terms are defined in 30 TAC 335.17 (emphasis below is mine):

(7) a material is recycled if it is used, reused, or reclaimed.

(4) a material is reclaimed if it is processed to recover a usable product, or if it is regenerated.  Examples are recovery of lead values from spent batteries and regeneration of spent solvents.

(5) a material is used or reused if it is either:

(A) employed as an ingredient (including use as an intermediate) in an industrial process to make a product (for example, distillation bottoms from one process used as feedstock in another process).  However, a material will not satisfy this condition if distinct components of the material are recovered as separate end products (as when metals are recovered from metal-containing secondary materials); or,

(B)  employed in a particular function or application as an effective substitute for a commercial product (for example, spent pickle liquor used as phosphorous precipitant and sludge condition in wastewater treatment);

Q:  Is an exclusion from regulation through recycling available for all hazardous wastes if the recycling is legitimate?

A:  No.  Some materials, deemed Inherently Waste-Like by the EPA, are believed to pose such an environmental hazard that no matter what recycling option is chosen they will remain a hazardous waste.

As I indicated at the beginning of this article, “it’s complicated”.  Be sure to reference the following sources of information to be certain if a recycling exemption exists for your Texas waste:

Under Title 30 the Texas Administrative Code (TAC):

  • 30 TAC Section 335.1(138)
  • 30 TAC Chapter 335, Subchapter H
  • 30 TAC Section 335.17
  • 30 TAC Section 335.24

And, under Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR):

  • 40 CFR Section 261.2
  • 40 CFR Section 261.4
  • 40 CFR Section 261.6

Also, a helpful guidance document from the TCEQ:  RG-240 Can I Recycle Some of My Industrial or Hazardous Waste?  However, as with any guidance document, do not use it as a substitute for the regulations and exercise caution when using it as it does contain some errors, for example:  several times in the publication a reference is made to 30 TAC 335.1(131), this is incorrect, the correct citation is 30 TAC 335.1(138).  Despite this minor error, the document contains some helpful information for researching a possible recycling exemption that should be referenced.  Be certain to refer to the table, “Is My Material a Waste or Recyclable?” on pages 3 & 4 of the publication.

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As always, don’t hesitate to contact me about these specific regulations, the waste regulations of the TCEQ in general, or to attend one of my Texas-specific Training Seminars.