EPA restricts hazardous recycling rules

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set new standards Wednesday to restrict recycling of hazardous waste.

The rule seeks to protect people who live near manufacturing and recycling plants, while balancing their needs against the benefits of recycling, the agency said.


“Americans do not have to choose between a clean environment and economic prosperity,” Mathy Stanislaus, the EPA’s assistant administrator for solid waste, said in a statement.

“This important rule gives communities a voice in the decisions that impact them, promotes safe and responsible recycling of hazardous secondary materials and conserves vital resources, while protecting those most at risk from the dangers of hazardous secondary materials mismanagement,” he said.

The rule rolls back some provisions of a regulation written by the George W. Bush administration in its final months in 2008.

That action in 2008 exempted many hazardous materials, such as sludge, by-products or fill material, from EPA regulations if they were being recycled.

Manufacturers, recyclers and others who could reuse those waste materials cheered that rule, but environmentalists pushed President Obama and his administration to repeal it and put in better protections against the harms of hazardous materials.

Among the more controversial decisions the EPA faced was whether to repeal the provision that allowed on-site recycling. The agency decided to require recycling off-site.