In a Jan. 3 Federal Register release, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced amendments to its Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest System that included unspecified fees for certain users based on their submission of paper and digital logs and a June 30 implementation date.
The ruling applies to all parties required to use the e-manifest system, which includes approximately 80,000 individual entities as well as an equal or greater number of state-run waste handling bodies in more than 40 industries.
"Between 300,000 and 700,000 hours of processing shipping manifests can be saved."
The e-manifest system was developed as a way to modernize how companies track the cradle-to-grave shipment of their waste to off-site locations through federal structure. This was intended to reduce the amount of time, resources and money spent on such actions, according to the EPA's e-manifest website.
The current process was enacted with the passing of the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act in 2012. The law mandated the EPA charge user fees to cover development and operating costs of the system.
The EPA estimated that by using electronic submissions rather than paper-based filings, between 300,000 and 700,000 hours of processing shipping manifests can be saved, which equates to state and industry users saving between $75 million and $90 million annually. Another benefit of the tracking method lies in regulators being more effective in compliance monitoring of waste shipments, which ultimately protects company adherence to established health and safety and environmental regulations.
According to the Federal Register, the entities affected by the e-manifests are waste transporters, hazardous waste generators, owners or operators of treatment, storage, and disposal facilities and corresponding state-run bodies subject to tracking with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act manifest.
The update of user fees cited in the register applies specifically to certain subsets of these groups, including several hundred commercial RCRA treatment, storage, and disposal facilities and equivalent state-only, RCRA-regulated receiving facilities.The EPA stated it still needed to calculate the complete costs of the program, which will ultimately determine the fee schedule for the first two years of the system's operation. The schedule will be posted to the e-Manifest program's website approximately 90 days prior to the June launch date.
In addition to the user charge modification, the agency modified regulations to allow for: changes to transporters assigned on manifest when shipment is moving, descriptions on making data corrections to existing manifest records and the allowance of mixed paper and electronic manifests to track a waste shipment in certain instances.