United States             Solid Waste and
                     Environmental Protection      Emergency Response          EPA530-F-95-011
                     Agency                 (5305)                   May 1995

                     Office of Solid Waste
v/EPA         Environmental
                     Fact  Sheet
                     FOR COLLECTING AND MANAGING
                     UNIVERSAL WASTES

                        As part of President Clinton's plan to reinvent environmental regulations,
                     the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is streamlining hazardous waste
                     regulations to make it easier for consumers and businesses to recycle
                     batteries, pesticides and mercury-containing thermostats, referred to as
                     "universal wastes, " while ensuring their safe collection, recycling, handling

          EPA has promulgated regulations establishing the framework of the
        nation's hazardous waste management program under Subtitle C of the
        Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These regulations
        identify those wastes considered hazardous and specify requirements for
        those involved in their generation, transport, treatment, storage and
        disposal. The regulations are found in Parts 260 through 279  of Title 40 of
        the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This action amends the hazardous
        waste regulations by adding 40 CFR Part 273 (Universal Waste Rule) and
        is very similar to the  February 11, 1993 proposal.

          This final rule promulgates streamlined hazardous waste management
        regulations governing the collection and management of certain widely
        generated wastes, known as "universal wastes." This rule covers
        hazardous waste batteries (e.g., nickel cadmium), certain hazardous waste
        pesticides, and mercury-containing thermostats. By reducing  certain
        current RCRA Subtitle C regulatory requirements, this rule will encourage
        state and local governments and manufacturers to establish
        environmentally sound collection programs, and retailers to participate in
        them. Although households and small businesses produce much of these
        wastes, retailers were previously reluctant to accept them because of
        concerns that some of the wastes might be from regulated hazardous
        waste generators.  If that were the case, all of the collected wastes would
        be subject to full RCRA Subtitle C regulation.
          In contrast, under the streamlined system, retailers and others who
        generate or handle these wastes would not have to comply with
                                                 f\ \ Printed on paper that contains
                                                      at least 50% recycled fiber

burdensome RCRA Subtitle C paperwork requirements and certain
technical standards. Despite this regulatory reduction, however, this rule
is actually expected to increase environmental protection by increasing
the availability of collection and reycling programs that will subsequently
ensure that these wastes go to hazardous waste recycling and disposal
facilities rather than to less regulated municipal solid waste landfills and
   In addition to providing regulatory relief and increasing environmental
protection, this rule acts as a model for adding other similar wastes in the
future by allowing  a petition process. When states adopt the rule, they
can also pick up the petition process. This option enhances state flexi-
bility by allowing them to add wastes to their state's universal waste
program by following certain criteria and procedures without requiring the
wastes to be added at the federal level.  As a result, the rule provides an
important opportunity for EPA to partner with states to run the RCRA

   This rule is an important example of the Agency's efforts to reduce
regulatory burdens on affected parties without compromising environ-
mental protection.  It accomplishes this by streamlining hazardous waste
management requirements for certain widely generated wastes,  known as
universal wastes. This reduced regulatory burden is expected to signifi-
cantly increase the establishment of national,  state and local, and
industry collection and recycling campaigns for these wastes, the avail-
ability of which, will strengthen environmental protection by ensuring
that these wastes are treated or recycled in facilities subject to the full
hazardous waste regulations.

More Information
   The Federal Register notice and this fact sheet are available in
electronic format on the Internet System through the EPA Public Access
Server at gopher.epa.gov. For the text of the FR notice, choose: Rules,
Regulations, and Legislation; then, Waste Programs/EPA Waste
Information-GPO; finally, Year/Month/Day. This fact sheet is available
under:  EPA Offices and Regions/Office of Solid Waste and Emergency
Response(OSWER)/Office of Solid Waste/Hazardous Waste/Hazardous
Waste Recycling.
   For additional information or to order paper copies of the Federal
Register notice, call the RCRA Hotline at 1-800-424-9346 or TDD
1-800-553-7672 (hearing impaired).
   Copies of documents applicable to this rule may be obtained by
writing: RCRA Information Center (RIC), U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, Office of Solid Waste (5305), 401 M Street SW, Washington, D.C.