First off, we’re not calling anyone dumb. We’re offering a brief overview of the EPA’s Electronic Manifest (E-Manifest) System and what it means for different entities in the waste management industry. It seems like only yesterday we had to worry about the Global Harmonized System (GHS) and what we all had to do to become compliant with that new requirement. Now we’re routinely asked about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) re-definition of solid waste (DSW Rule) and the Electronic Manifest System (E-manifest). In this month’s article, we will cover the new E-manifest system and some of the most common questions about it as it relates to generators, transporters, and waste treatment facilities.
Disclaimer: the following information is to the best of our knowledge at the time of this posting. The EPA website is a great resource for current updates on the implementation of the Electronic Manifest. (Check out the EPA’s information on the E-Manifest)
Before you blame the EPA for this new system it is important to remember that this is a law Congress passed in 2012. The Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act proposes that, once implemented, state and industry users might save up to ninety-million dollars annually by having an efficient electronic system. The ongoing user fees will help offset the initial and ongoing costs of managing the electronic system.
So, after all the hype and worry, what does the new E-manifest system mean for you? Depending on the roles you are involved in for offering wastes for shipment, providing transportation services, or receiving wastes, the responsibilities are different. Below we offer a summary of the requirements to help you understand how this all ties together.
Generators of Hazardous Wastes
Generators are not initially required to register in the E-manifest system and may continue to use paper manifests for now. The initial burden for registering in the electronic manifest system falls on the waste treatment facilities. Over time everyone will be pushed to register and use the E-manifest system, but the June 30th, 2018 deadline applied to the treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDF’s).
The manifest submission fees are also an incentive for everyone to move towards a completely electronic system. Paper manifests are charged at a higher rate than hybrid or completely electronic manifests. Hybrid manifests are where the generator signs a paper copy of the manifest but the TSDF submits an electronic manifest to the EPA.
Also, generators participating in the E-manifest system no longer need to submit their manifests to the state. Generators are still responsible to make sure their shipments are received by the TSDF, but the manifest information will be submitted via the TSDF’s and the E-manifest system.
Generators participating in the E-manifest system will be required to have an EPA ID #. This will be something new for some Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQG’s) if they ship their hazardous waste on a manifest versus a bill-of-lading.
Generators will also be able to use the electronic manifests for Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) inspections. The electronic copies will be acceptable documents to show to the regulators if you are being inspected.
Transporters of Hazardous Wastes
We are being told the EPA is working with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to help ensure the new E-manifest systems works well with the DOT’s hazardous materials regulations. One initial snag is that the current hazardous material regulations require a paper copy of the shipping paperwork to be in the cab of the transportation vehicle. Transporters will have to print a paper copy of the E-manifest or use the old-fashioned paper manifest until both the EPA and DOT systems are in line with each other.
Other concerns we have been made aware of by hazardous waste transporters is that they will have to buy tablets for all their drivers to have manifests electronically signed. Another concern is having electronics at facilities that have a zero-electronics policy due to the threat of electrical discharge and the potential ignition of flammable vapors.
Transporters of hazardous wastes will also have to coordinate their efforts with the brokers and TSDF’s that utilize their services. All involved entities will need to understand what each group is prepared for to help ensure waste shipments go according to plan and according to the regulatory requirements.
Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities
The TSDF’s have four options for submitting manifests to the EPA:
- The first option is to submit the manifest electronically thru the electronic manifest system. Since this is the preferred method and the most efficient method, the TSDF’s are charged the least by the EPA for electronic submission.
- TSDF’s can also still submit old-fashioned paper manifests to the EPA but this option will phase out by June 30th, 2021 and this is the most labor-intensive and expensive option.
- The third option is where the TSDF can submit a scanned image of the top copy of the manifest.
- The fourth option is for the TSDF to upload a digital file of the manifest and a scanned image of the manifest.
The third and fourth options described above are still considered paper submissions but are preferred over actually mailing a paper manifest to the EPA.
TSDF’s are still responsible for mailing back hardcopy manifests to generators using hardcopy manifests within 30 days of receipt of their wastes. Generators utilizing the E-manifest system will have an image file uploaded by the TSDF and they can use this for their recordkeeping requirements.
We hope this E-manifest overview gives everyone a summary of the different responsibilities each waste management entity has and some of the challenges we are all working through to meet the new regulations and remain compliant. If you have questions or concerns about the E-manifest system, we recommend visiting the EPA’s website and talking with your EH&S expert.
If you don’t have an EH&S expert to rely on, we recommend you call Certified Environmental Solutions and we will be happy to provide you with one. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (262) 800-8520 for a free consultation. We look forward to working with you in, “Protecting the Environment and Your Business”.