EPA considers allowing low-PCB automotive scrap to be recycled

Feb. 12, 2013
Environmental groups oppose recycling low PCB automotive scrap.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of reviewing comments on a proposal from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) to allow recycling of low polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) automotive plastics, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) reported. Manufacturers and recyclers say there are several economic and environmental benefits to such action, while environmentalists have taken issue with the proposal.

In February 2011, ISRI requested guidance from EPA under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) regarding the ability to recycle these low PCB automotive plastics found within aggregate automotive shredder residue, or ASR. The EPA responded to that letter with a December 2012 “Request for Public Comment” on allowing a waiver for these types of automotive plastics to be recycled.

The official EPA request for comments included evidence from a commissioned study by the ISRI that showed economic investment would be spurred through the capital investment in machines and equipment that could sort these materials from the ASR and perform the recycling process. According to the ISRI request, “The report also estimates positive environmental impacts on energy consumption, greenhouse gases, water use and landfill space if virgin plastics were replaced with recycled material.”

Environmental groups, like the Sierra Club and Earthjustice, however, are staking opposition to the proposal, claiming that the exemption is “unlawful” and would be made at the will of a trade association and not through the proper regulatory process.

EPA has not set a timeline for a final decision on this matter, but the full request for comments notice along with the text of the public comments received by the agency can be read here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPPT-2012-0902

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