EPA has issued a final rule that authorizes the use of electronic manifests, or e-Manifests, for tracking shipments of hazardous waste from a generator’s site to the ultimate site of disposal.
The final rule is part of the process of developing a national e-Manifest system, which will upgrade the current paper-based system of tracking hazardous waste to an electronic one.
Mathy Stanislaus, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, called the final rule “a key step in bringing the oversight of these potentially dangerous materials into the 21st century.”
“Once fully implemented, the national e-Manifest system will provide greater access for emergency responders to information about the types and sources of hazardous waste that are in transit between generator sites and waste management facilities,” Stanislaus said in a news release.
The final rule authorizes the use of e-Manifests to track hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Shifting to electronic tracking will streamline the process and greatly reduce the millions of paper manifests produced each year, the agency said.
The Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act requires EPA to issue a regulation authorizing the use of electronic manifests as the legal equivalent of the current paper-manifest forms. EPA said its goal is to promote the greatest possible use of electronic manifests.
“The e-Manifest program is the vanguard of the agency-wide initiative to develop new tools to reduce the reporting burden on regulated entities, and provide the agency, states and the public with easier access to environmental data,” the agency said in a news release.
EPA estimates that the national e-Manifest system will reduce the burden associated with preparing shipping manifests by between 300,000 and 700,000 hours, and result in cost savings of more than $75 million per year for states and industry.
“In line with the agency’s e-Enterprise principles, the e-Manifest system will significantly improve access to higher quality and more timely waste-shipment data, and will empower communities through increased transparency and more accurate information on completed waste shipments and management trends,” the agency noted.
The final rule will establish the legal and policy framework for using electronic manifests. However, EPA noted that several more steps will be needed to fully implement the e-Manifest program, including establishing the system and initial fee structure.
EPA said it plans to work with states, industry and other stakeholders to develop plans for the system and address concerns of intersystem compatibility. The agency also said it will begin developing the initial fee structure of the system, including implementation and compliance dates, through a rulemaking process. Stakeholders and interested parties will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule when it becomes available.