Frequent Questions

What is the difference between recycling and direct reuse?

Under Section 313 of EPCRA and Section 6607 of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, facilities that meet certain criteria must report annually the quantities of toxic chemicals that they dispose or otherwise release, treat for destruction, combust for energy recovery, and recycle, as well as quantities that they transfer off site for disposal, treatment for destruction, energy recovery, or recycling. If a TRI covered facility sends metal scraps containing a toxic chemical off-site to be melted and subsequently reused, is the toxic chemical in the metal scraps considered to be transferred off-site for recycling?

Quantities of toxic chemicals that are directly reused on-site or sent off-site for direct reuse without undergoing any reclamation or recovery steps prior to that reuse need not be reported. Assuming no contaminants are removed during the melting process, the toxic chemical in the metal scraps is not actually being recovered but merely melted and reused. Therefore, the amount of the toxic chemical in the metal scraps would not be reportable in Part II, Sections 6.2 or 8 of the Form R. If the facility is repackaging and distributing the toxic chemical in commerce as part of its reuse, the facility should consider the amounts of toxic chemical toward the facility’s processing threshold. EPA has not yet promulgated regulations defining the term “recycle” for the purpose of EPCRA Section 313. Even so, for the purposes of TRI reporting, EPA considers toxic chemicals “recycled” when the toxic chemicals are recovered for reuse. If toxic chemicals are directly reused without any intervening reclamation or recovery steps the toxic chemicals are not considered recycled for Form R reporting purposes. Reclamation or recovery would not include simple phase changing of the toxic chemical before further reuse (e.g., simple remelting of scrap metal). Changing the relative amounts of the chemicals in an alloy (which may occur when mixed scrap metal is melted together) would constitute a reclamation or recovery step. Another example of a recovery step would be removing toxic chemicals using a pollution control device or removing contaminants from the toxic chemical after it has been used and can no longer be reused for its intended purpose without reclamation or recovery. Accordingly, if the scrap metal is not mixed with other scrap with varying concentrations of chemicals and can be melted and directly reused, without any recovery steps, then the toxic chemicals in the scrap metal are being directly reused and do not need to be reported as recycling. Facilities should use their best readily available information in determining if the scrap sent off-site is being directly reused or instead is recycled because of an intervening reclamation or recovery step prior to reuse. Additional information regarding direct reuse can be found in the Toxic Release Inventory Reporting Forms and Instructions and the Revised 1998 EPCRA Section 313 Questions and Answers Document.

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