NEW YORK The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agencys interpretation of
regulations that would allow the recycling of plastics
recovered from scrap metal shredder residue could trigger up to
$1.25 billion in new investments by the recycling industry,
according to an industry estimate.
The 30-day comment period closed
Friday on the EPAs interpretation of Toxic Substances
Control Act regulations, which would allow the recycling of
plastics separated from automobile shredder residue (ASR). The
agencys interpretation is based on regulatory provisions
for excluded polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) products and
voluntary procedures suggested by the Institute of Scrap
Recycling Industries, Washington.
Last month, the EPA called for
comments on its proposal to open shredder residue to the
recovery of some plastics after it was approached by ISRI in
February 2011 regarding separation, recycling, use and
distribution of recycled plastics from shredder residue
recovered from metals recycling facilities.
In a letter, ISRI requested
"written confirmation that separating plastics from ASR
aggregate for use and distribution in commerce, using processes
that reduce any PCBs that might be present to a level at or
below which there is no unreasonable risk, is authorized" under
The EPA determined that the
request had merit and offered its interpretation of existing
rules and regulations, which could soon prompt a new area of
focus for shredders.
ISRI previously estimated that
allowing the plastics recycling could bring almost $1 billion
in new equipment spending and $250 million in new construction,
as well as 20,000 new jobs and $1.1 billion in additional gross
On Jan. 7, OmniSource Corp., one
of the countrys largest metals recyclers, filed a comment
with the EPA expressing its support of the agencys
Brian Winters, corporate
environmental manager at Fort Wayne, Ind.-based OmniSource,
said the company would consider investing in the recovery of
plastics from ASR.
"EPAs letter would
incentivize recyclers to pursue existing and newly developed
technologies to recover this plastic recyclable stream and to
return it to beneficial use in producing new and existing
products," he said, calling on the EPA to "expeditiously adopt"
the voluntary procedures put forth by ISRI.
"The potential capital
expenditure we expect to invest in such ventures, together with
the construction and operation of these new recovery
facilities, will certainly encourage regional economic growth
through the creation of new jobs, potential tax revenues and
infrastructure improvement," Winters said, also declaring the
companys full support of EPAs interpretation.
Mark Lasky, chief executive
officer of Sadoff Iron & Metal Co., also expressed support
of the initiative in comments to the EPA on Jan. 8, which said
the Fond du Lac, Wis.-based company would invest up to $1
million should the EPA proposal become reality.
"We recycle approximately
100,000 tons of automobiles and appliances annually and
generate approximately 30,000 tons of shredder residue. By
using current technology and the investment of up to $1
million, we conservatively estimate the ability to recycle
6,000 tons of shredder residue plastics and divert a like
tonnage from a landfill," he said.
ISRI president Robin Wiener
stands in favor of the EPAs move, she told
"ISRI fully supports EPAs
interpretation clarifying that the agencys existing PCB
regulations allow for the separation, recycling, distribution
in commerce and reuse of plastics recycled from shredder
aggregate from the recycling of automobiles and appliances,"
"The interpretation will enable
green investments that could use technology developed and
funded in the U.S., that will produce environmental benefits,
economic benefits in the U.S., and increase our nations
global competitiveness," Wiener said. "For all these reasons,
we are urging EPA to confirm this interpretation at the
Wiener said the environmental
benefits of the practice include an annual savings of nearly 30
million barrels of oil, reduction of up to 5 million tons of
carbon dioxide emissions and more than 50 million cubic yards
of landfill space saved each year.
If adopted, the interpretation
wont impose any binding requirements on recyclers.