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CRC Insights

​CRC Insights provides targeted articles on specific areas of interest to the retail community on sustainability, environmental compliance, and regulatory issues.
CRC Insights
3/6/2017

Sust Shopping Cart.jpgSustainability applies to just about every facet of retail. For this article, I looked at direct impacts to the environment as well as costs and risks to the retailer from products and operations. Your focus and operations may differ but all of these areas are likely to be important in one way or another to your company.

# 1 Natural Resources in the Supply Chain

Products are the essence of retail so it's no surprise that natural resources top the retail sustainability list. The two main aspects that affect retail are the environmental impact of using raw materials and the risk of supply chain disruption. All natural resource use has some negative environmental impact and increasingly, a public that cares about minimizing it. Palm oil is one example as concerns over deforestation have pushed retailers to find more sustainable sources. A measure of these concerns is the proliferation of product certifications around sustainable attributes. 

The other side of this issue is the potential of supply chain disruption from natural resource constraints. The impact of climate change on agriculture is a potential threat, for example, decreases in cocoa and coffee production are predicted. Other concerns include unsustainable harvesting, such as the many fish stocks that are at or over sustainable harvest limits and increasing water scarcity.  

Understanding and responding to these issues is critical to meeting the challenge of operating more sustainably, reducing business risks and meeting consumer demands. The CRC page on Materiality and Risk Identification has more information on how to identify your risks and opportunities.

# 2 Environmental Impacts of Products

There are environmental impacts all along a product's life – natural resource extraction, water and energy used in production, pollution, transportation, use of the product and finally disposal. Some issues are unexpected, like aquatic pollution from microbeads that resulted in a microbead ban. Others are expected but can be controlled or, in some cases, eliminated, for example biodegradable packaging to eliminate plastic in the environment. There are also regulatory requirements designed to reduce negative impacts from product use such as emissions criteria for engines or sales restrictions, for example, on VOC levels in products.

Environmental aspects can also be positive, such as more energy or water efficient products. Increasingly, especially in construction, the Life Cycle Assessment of a product, an analysis that captures the environmental footprint and allows comparison of products, is important.

The way retailers address the environmental impact of products has a potential for positive results or major headaches. The CRC Sustainability Leadership Model helps retailers design programs to improve environmental performance and the Tools Page features a matrix of VOC limits by state.

# 3 Energy and Greenhouse Gases

Energy has huge environmental impacts, especially emissions of greenhouse gases and hazardous air pollutants from fossil fuel use. Energy efficiency and renewable energy can significantly reduce these impacts and also help retailers save money. An example is how more efficient lighting reduces emissions and saves money on energy while also reducing maintenance costs and waste. The retail industry is a leader in renewables; major retailers top the list of solar megawatts installed. Renewables are cleaner, cost competitive with conventional energy, provides companies with fixed energy costs and appeal to consumers looking for greener companies.

Transportation is another area where reducing energy use can save money. More efficient or alternative fuel vehicles, better management systems, planning and other approaches can reduce cost and environmental impacts. Visit the CRC Sustainability in Retail Logistics & Transportation page for more information.

Refrigerants can be potent greenhouse gases and also deplete the earth's protective ozone layer. To reduce this impact, the Clean Air Act covers refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. The CRC Refrigerant Fact Sheet has more information on these regulations.

The Retail Energy Leadership Model provide retailers with a roadmap to optimizing their energy programs and the Retail Operations page has information on financing energy projects. 

# 4 Chemicals and Toxics

Many products contain chemicals. While most are not harmful, some have the potential to harm people or the environment. Many retailers are working to take these chemicals out of their products and supply chain. This can be a challenge; retailers have to work with manufacturers to find alternatives that are safer but don't affect cost and performance. Consumers want these safer products and retailers that can deliver have an advantage. Like natural resource sustainability, there are product certifications for safer products such as the Environmental Protection Agency's Safer Choice or the EWG Verified labels. The CRC Chemicals and Toxics in Retail and its Supply Chain page has more information.

There are also regulations, some at the state level, that ban or require labeling for specific substances. California's Prop65 has labeling requirements for over 800 substances and some states have bans that apply to specific uses such as in children's toys. The CRC Product Compliance and Toxics page has more information on regulations.

# 5 Waste

Waste is a problem on many levels because by definition it's, well, waste. Wasted money for products that can't be sold and for disposal costs, wasted resources when material is thrown away, and wasted benefits when items are not recycled. Waste has significant environmental impacts – landfills generate methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas, plus the environmental impacts from creating a material that is now thrown way. However, waste management is an exciting area as more facilities move towards the zero waste concept, and develop innovative approaches to reducing and reusing waste.

Many communities are implementing regulations to reduce waste and encourage recycling. This can include bans on non-reusable bags (the CRC Consumer Bag matrix has state and local regulations); landfill bans on specific items, including food waste; regulations on electronic waste (the CRC e-Waste matrix has state details); and increasingly, extended producer responsibility (EPR) requirements, many of which apply to retailers.

The application of hazardous waste regulations to unsalable consumer products has created a regulatory challenge for retailers. More sustainable approaches--reducing the amount of waste, products that might be considered hazardous, and promoting recycling—can reduce regulatory risk and costs. The CRC Hazardous Waste Page has more on this topic, the CRC Insights page has articles on hazardous waste in retail.

Operating more sustainably is a win-win opportunity for retail, customers and the environment. The Retail Sustainability Leadership Model provide the tools and resources to help retailers develop a sustainability framework improve environmental performance and take advantage of the tremendous opportunities a more strategic approach can provide. 

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC

2/7/2017

​Retailers – here's our list of the top five environmental regulatory areas that either apply to most retailers or carry significant regulatory or environmental risk. If any of these apply to your operations, make sure that you have a good compliance program and understand what is going on at the facility level.

 #1 – Hazardous Waste

Applying laws designed to control waste from industrial facilities to unsalable consumer products in retail is a compliance challenge. Some consumer products such as paints, chemicals, bleach, and cleaners are easily recognized as hazardous while other products such as air fresheners, perfume, cosmetics, and aerosol cans are not so obvious. This complexity, combined with state level regulatory variations and the potential for significant penalties, puts hazardous waste as the number one environmental regulatory issue for most retailers. The CRC can help--the Tools page has two matrices on state variations in hazardous waste regulations, and the CRC Insights features articles with practical tips on managing hazardous waste.

#2 – Refrigeration

Refrigeration is everywhere – from coolers and freezers to HVAC systems, vending machines, and temperature controlled transportation. Keeping cold has significant environmental impacts; many refrigerants are ozone depleting substances (ODS) or have high global warming potential (GWP). Ammonia refrigeration avoids these issues but triggers safety requirements. There has been significant enforcement against retailers for refrigeration management. In addition, be aware that the rules were just revised. For more information, the CRC has a Refrigerant Fact Sheet and an article about the revised regulations.

#3 –Petroleum Storage Tanks

Petroleum storage tanks are primarily an issue for retailers with fueling stations, although tanks are often used with emergency generators. Both underground storage tanks (UST) and aboveground storage tanks (AST) make our list because of the numerous regulatory requirements and the potential for costly cleanups and environmental damage from leaks. States frequently cite facilities for housekeeping violations, such as missing registrations or training, issues that can be avoided with a good compliance program. For more information visit the CRC Storage Tank page and the CRC Spill Reporting matrix.

#4 – Stormwater

Stormwater, especially during construction, triggers many regulatory requirements and has the potential to cause significant environmental damage. Compliance is challenging as construction sites are constantly changing and stormwater regulations are primarily implemented at state and local levels. There are fewer ongoing stormwater requirements after construction. Good housekeeping practices can reduce environmental harm but it's upfront greener design that can significantly reduce environmental impacts. The CRC Water page has information Low Impact Development in addition to compliance and the CRC Stormwater Matrix provides state stormwater construction requirements.

#5 – Solid waste

Even waste that is not considered hazardous under the law can be a compliance headache. Solid waste is usually regulated at the local or sometimes state level, and more and more communities are banning undesirables from their landfills. Many bans are designed to promote the recycling of materials such as paper and cardboard, appliances, tires, wooden pallets and food waste. In addition, retailers must be careful about items such as electronic waste and batteries that may be considered hazardous waste. Visit the CRC Solid Waste Page for more information and the e-waste Matrix for state level e-waste regulations.


With all of these issues, your best defense is a good compliance program. This does not necessarily need to be an elaborate or expensive program, just a good understanding of the issues and systematic approach to ensuing compliance. For more information on designing a compliance program visit the Retail EMS Guidance page. We are working on new compliance tools so sign up for CRC Alerts to stay updated on these tools and new content.

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC

1/18/2017

In November 2016, EPA finalized revisions to refrigerant management requirements under 40 CFR 82 bringing an expanded scope, more stringent leak repair requirements, and further restrictions on the sale of refrigerants. Although provisions likely to have the greatest impact on retailers do not immediately go into effect, retailers should start planning now in order to comply with the new requirements.  For example, some refrigerants currently not regulated will be under the new requirements and leak repair requirements will be more stringent.  

The provisions likely to have the greatest impact on retailers, the revised leak repair requirements, go into effect on January 1, 2019. However, in January 2017 and January 2018, certified technicians, refrigerant distributors and wholesalers, reclaimers, and appliance disposal and recycling facilities will be required to comply with various new requirements. 

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Expanding Regulated Refrigerants

The most significant change to the refrigerant management requirements extends the regulations for ozone-depleting refrigerants to non-ozone-depleting substitutes through an amendment to the definition of "refrigerant."  Use of the revised definition in the refrigerant management process will be phased in over the next two years.  Starting January 1, 2017 the revised definition will be applied to requirements governing the resale of recovered refrigerants and in January 1, 2019 to leak repair requirements.

This revised definition of refrigerant, as it applies to typical retail operations, includes Class I or Class II ozone-depleting substances and substitutes, except for the following substitutes, which are specifically exempted from regulation:

  • Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water in any application;
  • Ammonia in commercial refrigeration;
  • Propane (R-290) in retail food refrigerators and freezers (stand-alone units only); household refrigerators, freezers, and combination refrigerators and freezers; self-contained room air conditioners for residential and light commercial air-conditioning; heat pumps; and vending machines;
  • Isobutane (R-600a) in retail food refrigerators and freezers (stand-alone units only); household refrigerators, freezers, and combination refrigerators and freezers; and vending machines; and
  • R-441A in retail food refrigerators and freezers (stand-alone units only); household refrigerators, freezers, and combination refrigerators and freezers; self-contained room air conditioners for residential and light commercial air-conditioning; heat pumps; and vending machines.

(Additional exempted substances which are most likely not found in retail include nitrogen in any application and Ethane (R-170) in very low temperature refrigeration equipment.)

The extension of the refrigerant management regulations to non-exempt substitutes was primarily meant to address hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other substitute refrigerants that are potent greenhouse gases (GHG) with global warming potentials much greater than carbon dioxide.

Leak Inspections and Repair

Beginning on January 1, 2019, new requirements for maintenance and leak repair of regulated appliances go into effect.  The new requirements apply only to appliances with a full charge of 50 pounds (lb) or more of refrigerant, which is the same as the current requirements.  However, as of January 1, 2019, the revised definition of refrigerant is in effect for leak repair requirements, meaning these requirements will also apply to appliances using non-exempt substitute refrigerants.

Leak rates.  Leak rates are expressed in terms of the percentage of the appliance's full charge that would be lost over a 12-month period if the current rate of loss were to continue over that entire period.  Leak rates must be calculated every time refrigerant is added to an appliance, and if above the following leak rate thresholds, requirements for repair, retrofit, or retirement are triggered.

Appliance TypeCurrent Leak Rate Threshold Leak Rate Threshold Effective 1/1/2019
Commercial refrigeration35 %20 %
Comfort cooling15 %10 %
All other appliances15 %10 %


Leak inspections.  As of January 1, 2019,  appliances exceeding the leak rate thresholds must be inspected by a certified technician according to the following schedule:

  • Commercial appliances with a full charge of 500 lb or more: once every 3 months;
  • Commercial refrigeration appliances with a full charge of 50 lb or more, but less than 500 lb: once per calendar year; or
  • Comfort cooling appliances: once per calendar year
Such inspections will not be required for appliances that are continuously monitored by an automatic leak detection system, provided the system is audited and calibrated annually.

Chronically leaking appliances.  As of January 1, 2019, appliances that leak more than 125 percent of the full charge in a calendar year must submit a report to the EPA by March 1 of the following year.  The report must describe efforts taken to identify and repair the leak.

Retailers should take care to comply with current regulations and to prepare for the changes as there have been significant settlements against retailers for violations for these regulations.

 

Helpful Links:

Federal Register: Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Update to the Refrigerant Management Requirements under the Clean Air Act

The EPA'S Updated Refrigerant Management Requirements: What Supermarkets and Property and Facility Managers Need to Know

The EPA'S Updated Refrigerant Management Requirements: What Technicians Need to Know


By Tim Fagan, BLR

BLR is a leading provider of compliance and training solutions in the HR-employment (DOL), compensation, safety (OSHA) and environmental (EPA) areas. To learn more, visit www.blr.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) or the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). This content is obtained from sources believed to be reliable but no guarantees are made by the CRC or RILA as to its accuracy, completeness, or timeliness.

12/15/2016

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The Holiday season produces a lot of hot, new items on the shelf. Shoppers are clamoring to get their hands on the newest gadgets or find the best gift.  But, what happens when one of these items gets damaged in the aisles by overenthusiastic shoppers and needs to be disposed of? It's not very merry but many seasonal products may be considered hazardous waste.

EPA's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) provides guidance for the proper management of hazardous waste. Under RCRA, products which are ignitable, corrosive, reactive, toxic, or contain certain listed chemicals are considered hazardous waste. In addition to RCRA's framework, some states define hazardous waste based on other characteristics, such as a broader list of restricted chemicals or harmfulness to aquatic life. It is best to consult the appropriate state, regional, or local regulations for additional requirements. The CRC also has information on state variations in hazardous waste regulations on the Tools page.

Surprising seasonal products which may be considered hazardous waste include:

Holiday Gifts:

  • Electronics
    • Batteries may contain toxic chemicals and require important considerations for disposal or recycling.
    • Electronic products, even without batteries, have disposal restrictions in many states. 
  • Beauty Sets
    • Nail polishes and perfumes are often ignitable waste.
    • Cosmetics may contain dyes with restricted chemicals.
    • Body wash, soap, and bubble bath may be harmful to fish and considered hazardous waste in some states.
  • Craft Kits
    • Adhesives may be ignitable waste or state-regulated toxic waste due to listed ingredients or aquatic toxicity.
    • Art supplies may contain pigments which are RCRA or state-regulated.

Holiday Decorations:

  • Holiday lights that contain heavy metals like mercury or lead solder may be considered hazardous waste.
  • Candles that contain ingredients that are considered toxic to fish are more heavily regulated in states like California and Washington.

Cold and Flu Season:

  • Oral analgesics containing the active ingredient phenol are often RCRA hazardous waste
  • Cough medicines containing alcohol may be ignitable waste.
  • Other medicines may be harmful to fish or contain state-restricted chemicals.
  • Household antibacterial cleaners are restricted in some states.

Holiday Baking:

  • Cooking sprays and flavoring extracts are generally ignitable wastes.
  • Whipped topping in aerosol cans may be restricted in some states

New Year's Resolutions:

  • Vitamins may be hazardous under RCRA due to their chromium or selenium content.
  • Vitamins could be hazardous in some states due to listed ingredients, such as copper or zinc.
  • Nutritional supplements may contain state-restricted artificial sweeteners.
  • Smoking cessation products, such as nicotine gum, are RCRA hazardous waste.

So don't forget to properly identify and manage unsalable items in the holiday rush.

 

Marietje Hauprich, Senior Hazard Review Specialist, UL WERCS

The UL WERCSmart platform connects manufacturers with retailers around the globe to meet critical compliance and data sharing needs.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) or the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). This content is obtained from sources believed to be reliable but no guarantees are made by the CRC or RILA as to its accuracy, completeness, or timeliness. For more information see the Terms of Use.

12/13/2016

The variability of hazardous waste regulations by state is legendary, causing extra work and stress for retailers who operate in multiple states. Or is this overstated, merely a perception driven by a few outliers? Using the Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) Hazardous Waste Variations by State matrix, we set out to see just how much hazardous waste regulations actually vary by state (plus the District of Columbia).

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The CRC matrix summarizes four elements of hazardous waste regulations: hazardous waste characteristics (e.g., how to tell if a waste exhibits hazardous properties), thresholds for generator categories, requirements for Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQG), and universal waste. While state regulations vary in other important ways, these four elements have a significant impact on how generators must manage hazardous waste. 

Hazardous waste laws are implemented at the state level (with the exception of Alaska and Iowa). State requirements must be at least, but can be more, stringent than the federal rules. So do states go hog wild and use this authority to make major changes or do they generally follow the federal lead?

The reality is that in these four elements, state regulations are more like the federal rules than they differ.

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There are exceptions, five states differ from the federal rules in all four elements and another five in three of the four elements.

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Location matters. None of the six New England states are the same as the federal in all four elements, all differ in the CESQG element and most with respect to universal waste. By contrast, the Mid-Atlantic states tend to toe the federal line. All six are the same as federal in hazardous waste characteristics and thresholds for generator categories, one is the same in all four elements and three only vary in one of the four elements. In the South, the majority of states are the same or only differ in one of the four elements. The Southwest is the most uniform, all differ from the federal requirements in only one of the four elements. The graph below shows the percent of variation by region.

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CESQG requirements is the element of the four with the most variability. Thirty-one states either have some variation in CESQG requirements or don't recognize the federal category at all. In most of the states, the variations are minor and the rules essentially the same as federal. RCRA 6.jpgHowever, in nine states, CESQGs are subject to extensive requirements, typically the same that small quantity generators must follow. Interestingly, all states that start with the letter "M" vary in CESQG requirements, except for Mississippi, while none of the states that start with "N" vary in this area, except for New Hampshire.

For the majority of states, requirements for hazardous waste characteristics and thresholds for generator categories are identical with federal rules. However, eight states have different hazardous waste characteristics. Several build on the federal rules by adding a new characteristic, for example, Michigan added "extreme toxicity," Minnesota "lethality" and both Washington and Rhode Island "extremely hazardous waste." Additional tests for identifying hazardous waste are another variation, several states added non-liquid corrosivity tests and California added toxicity tests, including a test for aquatic toxicity.

The final area is Universal Waste. Here again, the majority of the states, 33, recognize the same categories as the federal rules. The 18 states that differ generally recognize the federal categories but include additional items as universal waste. The most popular additional items are used electronics (8 states), aerosol cans (4 states), and antifreeze (3 states). Other types of universal waste include compressed gas cylinders, oil-based finishes, and paint and paint related waste.

So what did we learn? Generally, state requirements are more like federal requirements than they differ. However, to keep facilities on their toes, in some states the differences are significant.

To avoid having to keep track of different requirements, retailers could operate only in states with identical rules as the federal or avoid certain regions altogether. While attractive to regulatory compliance staff, this is an unlikely solution for a business, leaving multi-state retailers having to deal with state variances. This is where the CRC tools can help. In addition to the matrix, Hazardous Waste Variations by State, the CRC also has a Key Variations in Hazardous Waste Generator Reporting matrix and the CRC State Resource pages have links to state regulatory resources. A good compliance program will help identify and manage regulatory differences. The CRC provides guidance on Environmental Management Systems (EMS) for retail that includes downloadable tools in Excel that can be used for gap analysis or program implementation.

 (This article and these resources are for informational purpose only and should not be construed as legal, financial or other professional advice.)


Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC

11/22/2016

​Thanksgiving is known for family, football and food. Despite our best intentions to clean our plates much of this food will go to waste as portions are left uneaten and grocery stores must dispose of unsold fresh food. The EPA estimates that food makes up 21% of the daily waste stream to landfills and incinerators. Reducing this waste has environmental and social benefits, from reducing methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, to increasing food security as formerly wasted food can be distributed to the 48 million Americans who are food insecure. Through good management of supply chains and more efficient waste management, retailers can significantly reduce their food waste. The Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) has resources to help you get started.

Retailers and their suppliers are already leading the way on reducing food waste. In November 2016, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first group of Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions. This companies, including national retailers, have committed to reducing food waste from their US operations 50% by 2030. This initiative compliments efforts already underway through EPA's Food Recovery Challenge and the USDA's Food Waste Challenge.

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There are other resources to help companies reduce food waste. EPA's Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes food waste reduction strategies based on environmental and social impacts and provides guidance and tools for waste reduction. The Food Waste Reduction Alliance has a toolkit that highlights leading practices in each area of the Food Recovery Hierarchy, including how to perform a waste characterization assessment, donation guidelines, and composting tips. There are also ideas for how retailers can influence their suppliers and customers, using their pivotal positon in the supply chain to change production processes and consumer habits.   

As voluntary initiatives expand, so too do regulatory efforts to reduce food waste. Several jurisdictions require mandatory organic food waste recycling.  The latest being California, mandatory composting for some facilities started in April 2016. The CRC's Retail Food Service & Prepared Foods and Other Regulated Waste pages highlight issues and regulations related to food waste in retail. 

Retailers are uniquely placed to effect change in this area and may find operational efficiencies to complement the social and environmental benefits.


Larry Corkey, Center for Retail Compliance

11/4/2016

By Richard Sieg, Regulatory Counsel, Inmar, Inc.

Fretting about regulatory compliance? There are some little-known, readily available exemptions and exceptions that can work in tandem to reduce compliance burdens and significantly boost your sustainability initiatives. (For the sake of simplicity, for the remainder of this article, the term "exemptions" is used to refer to both exemptions and exceptions)

Background

It is easy to forget that in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Congress embraced recycling and reuse of materials as part of the solution to the nation's waste problem.  The objectives of RCRA include protection of health and the environment and conservation of valuable material and energy resources.  EPA's "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" initiative is an extension of these objectives.  Sustainability has become a cornerstone of the retail industry, and in this discussion, you may find opportunities to raise your sustainability program to a higher level while improving your compliance program.

Hazardous waste regulatory requirements significantly impact retailers.  There is a three-tiered hazardous waste regulatory framework:

  • Large quantity generators (LQGs), assume the most rigorous and cumbersome compliance requirements. 
  • Small quantity generators (SQGs) assume less burdensome requirements. 
  • Conditionally-exempt small quantity generators (CESQGs) have the least requirements. 

With this in mind, if a generator finds ways to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated at a retail store, it may be able to significantly reduce that store's regulatory burden.  This article will discuss ways to take advantage of such opportunities allowed in the regulation.

In its hazardous waste regulations, EPA provides exemptions to the definition of solid and hazardous wastes and use of these exemptions is one way to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated at your stores. Through the use of alternative dispositions to ensure consumer products are donated, liquidated, reused and/or recycled, a retailer may reduce the volume of hazardous waste generated at its stores and possibly lessen its compliance burdens. 

Some of these exemptions are not well known, yet can help retailers avoid the significant regulatory burdens associated with hazardous waste requirements.  These exemptions exist to encourage sustainable solutions to the end of life of products.  Recycling prevents waste, conserves valuable materials, and may help to conserve energy resources.  To be clear, this is not a regulatory loophole; legitimate recycling is the right thing to do and comes with some lessening of the burdens of complying with the hazardous waste regulations.

Commercial Chemical Product (CCP) Exemption

One of the lesser-known exemptions is the commercial chemical product (CCP) exemption.  It is important to remember that states are allowed to have more stringent programs and, therefore, some states may have limited or eliminated an exemption available under the federal rules.  It always is critical to know the rules for the jurisdictions within which the products are being managed.  In other words, always know the regulatory requirements for the states you are in.

Products managed under the CCP exemption are exempt from the definition of solid waste and, therefore, are not hazardous wastes under the federal regulations.  To qualify for this exemption, a generator must ensure a product is recycled through a reclamation process. For the CCP exemption, the definition of CCP applies to consumer products generally. RCRA Online 14012. Of course, housekeeping matters and the products should be managed as you would manage any product of value (e.g. not broken or leaking).

The potential significance for retail locations may be substantial as consumer products managed under the exemption are products, not wastes, and do not count against a location's generator status.  In other words, through use of this exemption, a store may reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated to become regulated under significantly less rigorous requirements as an SQG or even an CESQG.

What is Legitimate Recycling?

Satisfies These Criteria

  • Hazardous material: useful contribution to recycling process, product or intermediate
  • Recycling process creates useful product/intermediate
  • Housekeeping matters: manage it like you manage your products
  • Product comparable to other legitimate products/intermediates

EPA's website on Legitimate Hazardous Waste Versus Sham Recycling has more information on guidelines for "legitimate recycling."


The reclamation of nicotine is a perfect example. In 2015, EPA published guidance discussing, in part, a process that reclaims nicotine from consumer products such as e-cigarettes and smoking cessation products. (RCRA Online 14850, 14851).  EPA confirmed a nicotine reclamation process legitimately recycles nicotine-containing products and therefore under the CCP exemption they are not considered solid waste.  Products sent through this process, therefore, are not a waste at the retailer, during transportation or even prior to processing at the recycling facility. 

One significant impact to retailers is EPA's declaration that nicotine products, even those in low concentrations, such as gums, lozenges and patches, are p-listed hazardous wastes.  As a result, a retail location generating only 2.2 pounds of these products as waste in one month is regulated as a large-quantity generator.  Few products have similar or greater hazardous waste compliance impacts on retailers as do these products.

EPA has emphasized that speculative accumulation of consumer products for some potential recycling opportunity can lead to compliance issue.  EPA has made clear that when CCPs are "stored for a long period of time without any foreseeable means of recovering the product, or if no foreseeable market existed for the recovered product, an overseeing regulatory agency might well conclude that they were abandoned [and therefore a solid and/or hazardous waste]." RO 14762

If nicotine is the main driver for a retail store's classification as a large quantity generator, this type of recycling can help reduce costs and risks of liability and contribute to sustainability.  Also, a collateral benefit may accrue - raising your sustainability program to another level.  While nicotine is one example, similar recycling opportunities exist for other consumer products as well.

Reuse Exemption

The reuse exemption is also relevant to the management of consumer products.  Under federal law, a consumer product being used as an ingredient for another product is exempt from the definition of solid waste.  One example currently available is the use of fingernail polish to make hobby paint.  Fingernail polish can be sent for use as an ingredient for hobby paint and therefore never becomes a waste.  Once again, housekeeping matters, and the products should be managed as you would manage any product of value (e.g. not broken or leaking). 

Reclamation Innovation

Innovative companies are continually finding more ways to reclaim consumer products and even find reuse opportunities for some. For example, conditioners and soaps can be used as ingredients for industrial soaps and colognes and other fragrances can be used as an ingredient to make industrial fragrances.  The bottom line is that innovations in the end-of-life stewardship of many consumer products are available as valuable alternatives to the waste stream, and retailers can improve their risk potential and sustainability profile by pursuing these options. Meanwhile, as an industry we should encourage innovation in the marketplace.  Sustainable end-of-life solutions for consumer products fall within retail sector sustainability initiatives, including waste reduction. 

Do not forget that state hazardous waste regulations can be more stringent than the federal program, so it's important to compare the two sets of regulations to ensure compliance across the board.  Recycling companies and reverse distributors are knowledgeable about these issues and are a great resource to help you navigate the state regulations.

Helpful Links:

40 CFR § 261.2  Definition of Solid Waste

U.S. EPA RCRA Online Database

U.S. EPA Definition of Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste Recycling Training Module

U.S. EPA Legitimate Hazardous Waste Recycling Versus Sham Recycling

U.S. EPA Final Rule: 2015 Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) (provides access to compliance tools for documenting "legitimate recycling")

U.S. EPA Are Commercial Chemical Products (CCPs)_Solid Waste When Burned as a Fuel for Energy Recovery?

U.S. EPA How Is a Secondary Material Regulated If It is Recycled by Direct Use or Reuse Without Prior Reclamation?


Anyone who has redeemed a coupon, filled a prescription or returned a product, has touched Inmar. We apply technology and data science to improve outcomes for consumers and those who serve them. As a trusted intermediary for over 35 years, we have unmatched access to billions of consumer and business transactions in real time. Inmar analytics, platforms and services enable engagement with shoppers and patients, optimize supply chain results for retail and CPG companies, and bring regulatory compliance expertise to help those companies better manage risk and sustainability.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) or the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). This content is obtained from sources believed to be reliable but no guarantees are made by the CRC or RILA as to its accuracy, completeness, or timeliness. For more information see the Terms of Use.

10/21/2016


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Securing funding for energy projects is a challenge for retail energy managers that is both well-established and much discussed. Over the summer, RILA released a comprehensive External Finance Guide that outlined several different funding mechanisms for retailers to explore when internal capital is hard to come by, including options like green bonds, energy service agreements, tax-increment financing, and more. As a companion resource, RILA teamed up with the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) again to develop a new Internal Finance Guide that similarly presents different options for retailers to secure funding for energy efficiency projects, but this time using internal capital.   

The Internal Finance Guide presents five policies, fund structures, and process changes that can improve energy manager access to internal capital:

1. Internal Carbon Pricing - Establishes a cost to the carbon dioxide emissions or CO2 equivalent generation from company operations. May be set as either a real price to create a fund or as a price signal.

2. Capital Investment Fund - Dedicated budget replenished annually to finance energy projects rather than requiring project by project approval.

3. Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) - Leverages one-time, initial funding to support continuous rounds of projects, in which energy cost savings that accrue replenish the fund.

4. Expedited Approval - Creation of a specific internal process such as integration with finance or updated proposal templates to decrease the time required for review and approval of projects.

5. Cross-Departmental Collaboration - Relationship-building to help other departments understand how they benefit from energy projects and why they may want to leverage their own budgets to fund projects if capital is otherwise unavailable.

The complete Internal Finance Guide explores each mechanism by explaining why a retailer might use it, advantages and disadvantages, and next steps for employing the practices. In addition, a matrix within the guide summarizes the mechanisms by assigning generalized values for each's use within the retail sector, level of funding required, time and effort needed, potential impact of GHG reductions, and other considerations, so retailers can easily analyze the feasibility of each funding option for their business.

For more information or to learn more, contact Erin Hiatt, RILA's senior manager, energy & sustainability or Jonathan Bauer, IMT's program associate, market engagement.

10/11/2016

​The CRC team learned a lot at RILA’s 2016 Retail Sustainability and Environmental Compliance Conference (RSECC). Over three days, industry leaders covered the challenges retailers face in their efforts to comply with environmental regulations and grow more sustainably. 


Below are some takeaways from RSECC that retailers should consider for their long-term sustainability and compliance strategies: 

1. Using data to be more effective is not an option today – it’s a given

Data allows retailers to understand which areas in their business are at high-risk for noncompliance and to identify what is working and what is not. For instance, Walmart is capturing stormwater-related data to identify issues previously hidden by the ineffective paper approach. This saves money and allows them to proactively resolve issues before they turn into big problems. In another example, Valvoline is implementing an environmental management information system at their retail stores which helps them optimize EH&S performance and get big results with a small team. These examples show how data is increasingly critical for success. 

Compliance doesn’t need to be a game of whack-a-mole. Data can be used to better understand compliance, identify effective solutions and implement better programs. That is why the CRC is working on the development of tools to help retailers design more effective programs and use data to evaluate and improve results.

2. Increasing recycling depends on infrastructure and good management

Increasing recycling depends to a large extent on having the infrastructure to store, pick up and process material. Without the infrastructure, it’s impossible to operate sustainably in a cost-effective manner. This is especially true in rural areas. Building infrastructure and identifying markets will be key to more sustainable operations and complying with the increasing number of requirements for recycling rather than disposal. 

While most retailers have some level of recycling program, small issues can cause them to underperform and even fail. Loads of cardboard may be sent to the landfill because of something as simple as incorrectly sized containers or mismatched pickup schedules. One solution is to turn the hauler into an active partner by implementing a resource management contract. And conducting waste audits is never wasteful.

3. Prepare for the final frontier: food waste 

Not very fun fact—40 percent of food in the U.S. is thrown out and food now makes up 21% of municipal solid waste. Food production has a big environmental footprint and once in the landfill, food waste produces methane, which has 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Thus, reducing food waste is the key to long-term sustainability. 

Source reduction and food donation are good first steps to reducing food waste. But retailers—especially grocers—should also keep an eye on compost regulations. In California and Massachusetts, for example, food composting is required for certain facilities. 

There is help. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced a voluntary Food Recovery Challenge that can help retailers prevent and divert wasted food.


These are just a few of the topics and challenges at the forefront for sustainability and compliance managers. The CRC offers additional background information, insights and tools to navigate these challenges.

 

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC
9/21/2016

​For retailers, power outage preparation isn’t as easy as just purchasing an emergency generator. 

Retailers first need to understand the regulations that surround emergency generators. And, unfortunately, generator compliance is surprisingly complex. 

Regulatory requirements surround both installation and operation—varying based on the size, type, and location of the generator. Three federal regulations apply to generators plus many state and local requirements. And if your generator comes with a fuel tank, other environmental regulations can apply.
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That’s why The Center for Retail Compliance produced an Emergency Generator Fact Sheet --to help retailers navigate purchases, installations, and maintenance. The fact sheet outlines specific regulations and compliance tips and options retailers need to know, including:

Emergency generator definitions: Definitions differ for environmental regulations and building codes. Understand these definitions today so that, when the time comes, you can communicate with a fire marshal, building inspector or environmental regulatory agency. 

Factors affecting compliance: See how the size, location, and type of generator affect regulatory requirements and permits. For instance, generators with a compression ignition may face additional air regulatory requirements than those with spark ignitions. Use this information to pick out a generator that meets your business’ needs and compliance capabilities. 

Permits and approvals: Get your generator up and running—legally. The fact sheet explains the different types of permit actions that may be required. 

Here at the Center for Retail Compliance we know that keeping up with this never-ending list of standards is challenging for retailers. That’s why we’re committed to providing free industry resources for retailers who want to ensure proper compliance and do their part to protect environment and human health. 

Get the facts about emergency generator compliance. Check out CRC’s fact sheet today so that compliance is the last thing you have to worry about during a power outage. 

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC
9/12/2016

​The retail industry faces many challenges to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. This includes structural issues such a numerous facilities operating in multiple different jurisdictions, with the resulting regulatory variations, facility-level implementation by retail staff lacking in environmental or regulatory expertise, who have many other responsibilities and high staff turnover. In addition, there are always resource constraints around money, time, staffing and management attention.

The Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) is working to identify approaches to compliance that address these industry-wide management challenges. Our goal is to make compliance in the retail sector easier, more consistent and less expensive and help retailers implement more effective programs. Two such initiates are:
 
The Compliance Leadership Model (CLM), a compliance framework structured to help retailers design effective programs for their specific needs, set goals, and benchmark with the industry.
 
The Compliance Performance Program, with tools to optimize compliance programs such as:
o Data mining to identify and predict possible non-compliance
o Evaluation of compliance assurance strategies to identify the most and least effective approaches
o Self-certification program to evaluate and track compliance performance 

Participation in these programs can help retails be more effective – in terms of results and by saving money – and demonstrate their commitment to compliance.

Join Our Efforts!

Over the next year, the CRC will be working with a core group of retailers to refine and test these approaches. We are looking for retailers to participate in the development of these exciting programs. If you are interested, please contact Tiffin Shewmake at tiffin.shewmake@retailcrc.org. Also sign up to receive CRC alerts to stay up to date on these programs and other CRC news.

Meet Us in DC!

We will also be at the Retail Sustainability and Environmental Compliance Conference (September 27-30 in Washington D.C.) to discuss these programs in more detail and to get feedback on these and other initiatives. 

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC
8/31/2016

​We have added sustainability resources to the Center for Retail Compliance (CRC). Yes, the CRC is focused on environmental compliance. And yes, today’s sustainability programs are often separate from environmental programs and may never touch compliance programs. However, there are good reasons to add sustainability to the CRC. 

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There was no talk of sustainability in the seventies when Congress implemented major environmental legislation. These laws were focused on immediate visible hazards--the infamous burning Cuyahoga River, deadly air pollution, the close call on extinction for the Bald Eagle, and hazardous waste sites like “Valley of the Drums” (pictured). Over time, there was a move towards pollution prevention to avoid creating pollution or at least finding a use for it instead of the “end of pipe” focus of early legislation. 

The term “sustainability,” often associated with international development, centered on preventing damage to natural resources. Early sustainability efforts helped reduce and prevent pollution, often around water, toxics, and waste.  With the increasing evidence of climate change, energy became another critical sustainability area. True to the international development roots, sustainability came to include social and economic aspects á la the triple bottom line. Corporations, as key influencers and with key impacts, were drawn into Corporate Social Responsibility. All this leading to the separation of corporate sustainability programs from traditional environmental functions.

However, there is real value to connecting environmental compliance and sustainability. Environmental management systems (EMS) revolve around not just compliance but also reducing environmental impacts. In many cases, more sustainable approaches can reduce or even eliminate regulatory risk. Reducing waste saves resources but can also reduce the regulatory burden associated with hazardous waste. Voluntary commitments, such as Greenhouse Gas reduction targets become another compliance obligation, which can fit into an existing compliance program. Life cycle thinking has the potential to both improve sustainability and to reduce regulatory issues.

Years ago, many companies happily and mostly legally, sent hazardous waste to municipal landfills and marginal facilities. The 1980 Superfund program (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) made such disposal illegal. It also retroactively made companies responsible for the $15 to $100 million per site clean-up costs from their past disposal, along with everyone else’s through joint and several liability. Just think of the savings for these companies if they had reduced their waste to be more sustainable instead of relying on disposal. 

We hope that retailers will use the CRC sustainability resources to support their sustainability programs and also to find areas for more cost-effective approaches to regulatory issues.

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC
6/24/2016

Is your refrigerant compliance management system sufficient?

Earlier this week, a national grocery store chain agreed to a proposed settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA). According to a recent EPA press release, the chain did not perform the leak repair and recordkeeping required under the CAA for refrigeration equipment in its grocery stores, which resulted in the emission of R-22, an ozone-depleting substance and greenhouse gas used as a coolant in refrigerators. Under the settlement, the chain will pay a $500,000 civil penalty and spend an estimated $2 million to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from refrigeration equipment in their stores.

The settlement is neither the first nor the largest reached by a grocery store chain for alleged violations of the CAA related to refrigeration equipment. These settlements demonstrate the importance of implementing a refrigerant compliance program that ensures compliance with federal regulations, as well as to help protect human health and the environment.

The Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) has resources that retailers can use to help evaluate their compliance programs. The CRCRefrigerant Fact Sheet has more detail on regulatory requirements for refrigerants and the CRC Environmental Management Systems (EMS) Guidance provides information for retail on setting up a compliance program. The EMS tools can also be used to evaluate existing programs.

4/21/2016

For retail environmental compliance professionals, everyday is Earth ​​Day. Even though awards are not given for good compliance programs and marketing staff never tout well-implemented Environmental Management Systems, retailers spend significant resources on environmental compliance. They know that while rivers may no longer be catching fire, compliance with environmental regulations continues to be critical to protecting human health and the environment. Retail compliance professionals work to follow environmental regulations and also to go beyond to reduce the environmental impact of retail operations.

Take waste for example. Retailers have detailed programs to comply with byzantine hazardous waste regulations that were developed for manufacturing but are now applied to retail. This means that common consumer products such as mascara, hand lotion, or nicotine gum may be considered hazardous waste when no longer salable. However, many retailers don't stop at compliance but work to reduce the amount of all types of waste--collaborating with suppliers to reduce packaging and in stores to increase recycling. Some retailers have gone way beyond what is required and accept waste from consumers such as used electronics to ensure proper handling and recycling. Food waste is another example where retailers are working to reduce waste and to find better uses for leftover food such as donations, animal feed, composting and even energy generation.

Retailers must follow many other environmental regulations. Stores with gas stations have to implement detailed plans to prevent spills, refrigeration is regulated to reduce emissions of ozone depleting substances, and stormwater is controlled during construction and after to protect streams and rivers. These types of regulations cover retail operations while others include environmental requirements for products. In many cases, the supplier or manufacturer is responsible for proper labeling but it is the retailer that ensures that the regulations are being followed. Pesticide manufacturers must follow specific labeling requirements but it is retailers who make sure the labels are correct before putting products on the shelf. There are also requirements in some states for labeling or even banning products that contain certain potentially toxic components. Retailers must track what products can be sold in which state and what labels may be required. Here too, like with waste, some retailers are going beyond the basic requirements and working with suppliers to reduce potentially toxic components in products rather than just apply a warning label.

The Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) is helping retailers with their compliance programs by providing retail-specific resources and guidance on environmental regulations. Retailers can use the site to identify the regulations that apply to their operations, find resources and also find guidance on developing compliance programs. The CRC also has hot topics and news on regulatory changes, new requirements, and retail-relevant enforcement and environmental news. Sign up for the CRC Alerts for notifications of news and new content.

For more information, contact CRC executive director, Tiffin Shewmake at tiffin.shewmake@rila.org.

CRC Links
Last Update: 8/8/2016 9:00:00 PM