Frequent Questions

What is a scrap metal and what is its regulatory status when reclaimed?

Scrap metal is bits and pieces of metal parts (e.g., bars, turnings, rods, sheets, wire) or metal pieces that may be combined together with bolts or soldering (e.g., radiators, scrap automobiles, railroad box cars), which, when worn or superfluous, can be recycled (40 CFR §261.2(c)(6)). Scrap metal is essentially a product made of metal that has become worn out or is off-specification and is recycled to recover its metal content, or metal pieces generated from machining operations and recycled to recover their metal content. Materials not covered by this term include residues generated from smelting and refining operations (i.e., drosses, slags, and sludges), liquid wastes containing metals (i.e., spent acids, spent caustics, or other liquid wastes with metals in solution), liquid metal wastes (i.e. liquid mercury), or metal-containing wastes with a significant liquid component, such as spent batteries (50 FR 614, 624; January 4, 1985). 

The regulatory status of a secondary material when reclaimed depends on the type of material reclaimed. Some types of scrap metal, including processed scrap metal, unprocessed home scrap metal, and unprocessed prompt scrap metal are not solid waste and hence are not subject to regulation under Subtitle when recycled (per 40 CFR 261,4(a)(13)). In addition, recycled scrap metal that is not excluded from the definition of solid waste is not subject to the requirements of 40 CFR Parts 262 through Parts 266, or Parts 268, 270, or 124,or the notification requirements of Section 3010 of RCRA (See 40 CFR 261.6(a)(3)(ii).)
 
Additional guidance on scrap metal is available in the following documents: 

Memo, Shapiro to Donovan; August 5, 1994 (RCRA Online #11862)
Memo, Bussard to Sahler; July 29, 1994 ( RCRA Online #11860
Memo, Bussard to Mauro; May 9, 1994 (RCRA Online #11835
Memo, Petruska to Yazdanpanah; September 14, 1993 ( RCRA Online #11769
Memo, Lowrance to Truitt; April 29, 1993 (RCRA Online # 11742
Memo, Lowrance to Tighe; April 29, 1993 ( RCRA Online #11740

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