The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking with a focus on modifying the treatment and handling of “empty” containers and drums under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The EPA is soliciting information and requesting comments “to assist in the potential development of non-regulatory and regulatory options that would ensure the proper management of used industrial containers that held hazardous chemicals or hazardous waste, up to and including the drum reconditioning process.”

The EPA is seeking comments on a variety of concepts, including:

  • Eliminating 40 CFR 261.17’s “empty” container exemption;
  • Modifying the requirements for a container to qualify as “empty”;
  • Expanding record-keeping, labeling, and certification requirements for generators;
  • Increasing requirements surrounding rinsate from drums; and 
  • Requiring all drum reconditions to obtain a full RCRA Subtitle C TSDF (Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility) permit or receive a variance.

Many of the regulatory changes being proposed in the advance notice would likely have a wide-ranging impact on manufacturers, recyclers, and even commercial operations, in addition to the more obviously impacted waste transporters and treatment, storage, and disposal operations.

The EPA set the comment deadline for September 25, 2023. Comments can be submitted at