Frequent Questions

What is a by-product and what is its regulatory status when reclaimed?

A by-product is a material that is not a primary product of a production process and is not solely or separately produced by the production process. By-product is a catch-all term that includes most wastes that are not spent materials or sludges and is meant to incude "materials, generally of a residual character, that are not produced intentionally or separately, and that are unfit for end use without substantial processing"(50 FR 614, 625; January 4, 1985). Examples of by-products are process residues such as slags or distillation column bottoms (40 CFR §261.1(c)(3)). The term by-product does not include co-products. Co-products are materials produced for use by the general public and are suitable for end use essentially as-is. There are two types of by-product categories, listed by-products, which would be found in 40 CFR 261.31 or 40 CFR 261.32, and by-products exhibiting a hazardous characteristic (§261.2, Table 1). 

The regulatory status of a secondary material when reclaimed depends on the type of material reclaimed. Listed by-products are reguated as solid waste when reclaimed but characteristic by-products are not. Both kinds of by-product are regulated as solid waste when used in a manner constituting disposal; burned for energy recovery, used to produce a fuel, or contained in fuels; or accumulated speculatively (Section 261.2, Table 1). 

Additional guidance on by-products is available in the following documents:

 Memo, Fields to Wolfe; August 15, 1997 (RCRA Online #14158
Memo, Shapiro to Lettow; May 19, 1994 (RCRA Online #13671
Memo, Petruska to Farmer; August 4, 1993 ( RCRA Online #11763
Memo, Denit to Chambers; June 2, 1993 ( RCRA Online #11750
Memo, Lowrance to Sinibaldi; April 21, 1988 (RCRA Online #11342
Memo, Straus to Martin; June 25, 1987 ( RCRA Online #11260
Memo, Straus to Bzura; June 6, 1985 (RCRA Online #11083)

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