In early February, EPA released a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) that gives the retail sector the opportunity to submit comments on the various challenges that they face in complying with the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  In the NODA, EPA points out that retailers are challenged to make numerous hazardous waste determinations at thousands of sites, “generally by store employees with limited experiences with the RCRA hazardous waste regulations.”   The NODA is a continuation of EPA’s efforts, initiated in 2008, to address challenges related to hazardous waste pharmaceutical management.

On December 2, 2008, EPA released a proposed rule that would add hazardous waste pharmaceuticals to the Universal Waste Program “in order to facilitate their proper management and disposal.”  However, the proposed rule was withdrawn due to adverse public comments on notification and tracking requirements.  EPA is currently developing a proposed rule that would subject retail pharmacies and others to healthcare facility-specific hazardous waste pharmaceutical management standards.  The proposed rule is scheduled to be released in August 2014.  EPA acknowledges that the pending 2014 proposed rule and the previously released 2008 proposed rule prompted the agency to release the NODA.

The NODA not only addresses hazardous waste pharmaceuticals but also addresses other hazardous waste that is generated by retailers, including hazardous waste aerosol cans.  The NODA seeks comment on several topics, including:

  • Ways to improve RCRA hazardous waste policies, guidances, and regulations for retail operations;
  • The retail universe and the hazardous waste generated;
  • Episodic generation;
  • Retail store programs for handling hazardous waste;
  • Hazardous waste training for employees;
  • Aerosol cans;
  • Transportation and reverse logistic centers; and
  • Sustainability efforts undertaken by retail facilities.

The NODA also solicits comments on any other RCRA issues faced by the retail sector.  Commenters can also provide feedback on information compiled by EPA on retail stores and other retail facilities.

EPA intends to use the submitted comments “to make informed decisions about possible next steps to improve the RCRA hazardous waste policies, guidances, or regulation for retail operations.”  In doing so, it is likely that EPA will take comments received into consideration in completing the 2014 proposed hazardous waste pharmaceutical rule.

Comments are due on April 15, 2014.  More information on the NODA can be found here: NODA

Troutman Sanders attorneys Greg Blount, John Johnson, and Hahnah Gaines will be addressing this NODA and other pharmaceutical waste issues in a pharmaceutical waste symposium co-sponsored by Georgia State University and Troutman Sanders on September 19, 2014.  Additional information about the symposium can be found here: Symposium