The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule this week to move ahead with the development of a national electronic manifest system to replace the existing paper-based system for tracking hazardous waste.
Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, called the action “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,” he said.
The final rule authorizes the use of e-Manifests to track hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This will allow the current process, which requires paper forms, to be “streamlined and greatly reduce the millions of paper manifests produced each year,” the agency said.
EPA estimates the national e-Manifest system will reduce the burden related to preparing shipping manifests by between 300,000 and 700,000 hours, and it will result in cost savings of more than $75 million per year for states and industry.
However, the agency said several more steps are needed before the e-Manifest program can be implemented. These include establishing the system and initial fee structure. This year, EPA will work with states, industry and other stakeholders to develop plans for the many key aspects of the system and address concerns of inter-system compatibility. The agency will also begin developing the initial fee structure of the system, including implementation and compliance dates, through a rulemaking.
"Stakeholders and interested parties will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule when it becomes available," the EPA said.