[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 148 (Tuesday, August 2, 2011)]
[Pages 46290-46292]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-19515]



[EPA-HQ-RCRA-2011-0178; FRL-9446-9]

EPA Seeking Input Materials Measurement; Municipal Solid Waste 
(MSW), Recycling, and Source Reduction Measurement in the U.S.

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: EPA is soliciting stakeholder input regarding the efficacy and 
scope of the MSW Characterization Report called ``Municipal Solid Waste 
in the United States'' as part of a broader discussion about 
sustainable materials management. This information will be used to 
develop new measurement definitions and protocols for measurement of 
these materials, as well as the possible addition of construction and 
demolition (C&D) materials and non-hazardous industrial materials to 
the list of materials addressed in future efforts. This effort could 
lead to the creation of a new measurement report that the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) will make publicly 

DATES: All written comments must be received on or before August 31, 

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-
RCRA-2011-0178 by one of the following methods:
     http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions 
for submitting comments using the Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-RCRA-2011-0178.
     E-mail: [email protected].
     Fax: 202-566-9744.
     Mail: RCRA Docket (28221T), Environmental 
Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-
     Hand Delivery: EPA West Building Room 3334, 1301 
Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460. Such deliveries are 
only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation (8:30 a.m. 
to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays) and 
special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed 
    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-RCRA-
2011-0178. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included 
in the docket without change and may be made available on-line at 
http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be 
Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose 
disclosure is restricted by statute. The http://www.regulations.gov Web 
site is an ``anonymous access'' system, which means EPA will not know 
your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body 
of your comment. If you send an e-mail comment directly to EPA without 
going through http://www.regulations.gov, your e-mail address will be 
automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is 
placed in the docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit 
an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and 
other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk 
or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical 
difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be 
able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of 
special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects 
or viruses. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit 
the EPA Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/.
    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such 
as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the RCRA Docket, EPA/
DC, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 
20460. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number 
for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number 
for the RCRA Docket is (202) 566-0270.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Hope Pillsbury, Mail Code (5306P), 
Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, Environmental Protection 
Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; 
telephone number: (703) 308-7258; [email protected].



    For decades, EPA has been providing information on the recycling, 
reuse and generation of municipal solid waste

[[Page 46291]]

(MSW) in its regularly published MSW Characterization Report called 
``Municipal Solid Waste in the United States.'' Our trash or MSW is 
made up of the things we commonly use and then throw away. These 
materials include items, such as packaging, food scraps, grass 
clippings, sofas, computers, and refrigerators. EPA has used this 
report to provide a consistent view of MSW in the US over time and for 
internal performance measures, deliberations and programmatic 
assessments; however questions are being raised about its scope, the 
data sources used, the assumptions made, as well as its transparency. 
There is also a growing need for a more holistic assessment of how 
materials are generated, used and managed in the U.S. economy.
    While the structure, content and methodology of the MSW 
Characterization Report has remained essentially unchanged, the manner 
in which the report is used has changed dramatically, and it is now 
used as the basis for decisions that were unanticipated when the report 
was first conceived. Many believe that the data and conclusions 
provided in the MSW Characterization Report do not adequately support 
this expanded scope of use.
    EPA is interested in obtaining stakeholder input regarding the 
Agency's methods of measuring materials in the following waste streams: 
MSW (which can include items, such as packaging, food scraps, grass 
clippings, sofas, computers, and refrigerators), construction and 
demolition (C&D) materials, and non-hazardous industrial materials 
(such as iron and steel slags, spent foundry sands, and pulp and paper 
residues); and the sustainable management of these materials through 
safe recycling and source reduction. The Agency will consider the 
information gathered from this notice and other sources as it works to 
create a new national measurement approach and report. Our goal is to 
produce a measurement approach and resulting report that provides 
appropriate data to support a broad array of uses, including recycling, 
source reduction and waste prevention, and disposal.
    EPA's MSW Characterization Report, ``Municipal Solid Waste in the 
United States,'' analyzes, among other things, the amounts of MSW 
recycled, incinerated and landfilled. This document can be found at: 
http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/msw99.htm. This report has 
been based on a materials flow approach, which is a top-down approach 
to measurement. It characterizes the MSW stream of the nation as a 
whole. The report is the result of modeling that uses data gathered 
from a wide variety of public and private sources, such as the 
Department of Commerce, the U.S. Census Bureau, and trade associations. 
This method, however, has limitations, including the fairly narrow 
scope of materials it covers and inherent limitations due to a modeling 
approach. For example, at present, it does not include other types of 
non-hazardous waste, such as C&D materials, industrial materials and 
automotive waste.
    Other measurement efforts in the solid waste area that EPA has 
undertaken involved electronics and C&D materials. The electronics 
study (with a more detailed assessment of used and end of life of 
electronics) called ``Electronics Waste Management in the United 
States: Approach One,'' can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/manage.htm. EPA conducted two C&D studies. 
The most recent study was ``Building-Related Construction and 
Demolition Materials Amounts,'' to determine the amount of building-
related C&D materials generated and recovered in the U.S. during 2003. 
That study can be found at http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/imr/cdm/pubs/cd-meas.pdf.
    EPA also issued a report in 1997 that established voluntary 
recycling measurement standards with an extensive list of definitions. 
It can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/tools/recmeas/.
    Furthermore, State and local communities have also developed ways 
of measuring their recycling rates based on a somewhat different scope 
of materials included, and occasionally, different definitions of 
recycling so that they could meet their own legislatively mandated 
recycling or diversion goals. As the Agency considers a broader and 
more comprehensive view of sustainable materials management, EPA seeks 
input on how these other non-hazardous wastes and materials should be 
measured and characterized, as well as input on what definitions should 
be used.
    The Agency is considering various approaches to data gathering and 
reporting and seeks stakeholder input on the following topics:

Topic 1: Usage of EPA's Characterization Report

    If you use EPA's MSW Characterization Report:
     How do you use it?
     What decisions or actions have you taken or plan to take 
based upon this report?
     What do you like and dislike?
     How would you improve it?
     Recognizing that data gathering is crucial to any 
characterization report, do you have suggestions, based on experience 
with similar data gathering efforts, on what has worked, and what has 
not, in those efforts?

Topic 2: Scope of EPA's MSW Characterization Report

    The current MSW Characterization Report shows what products and 
materials are commonly collected and disposed of by households. 
Examples of this include paper, glass, metal, plastic, textiles and 
wood plus organics (food, leaves and grass). All these materials are 
generated by residential and commercial sectors and are presently 
recycled, reused, combusted or landfilled. In considering the scope of 
the report and possible improvements, please consider the following 
     What materials should be included in the report (in 
particular, should it include other types of non-hazardous waste, such 
as C&D materials, industrial materials, and/or automotive waste)?
     What are the most useful sources of data?
     Who should provide this data?
     Consistent terminology is crucial for successful 
measurement and reporting. Thus, please list primary materials terms 
used in your field. For purposes of measuring, what terms are most 
important, and how would you define them? Examples of terms to be 
considered include: Reuse; source reduction; recycling; pre-consumer 
recycling; post-consumer recycling; disposal; biomass; organics; 
municipal solid waste; industrial (nonhazardous) solid waste; recycled 
material terms (e.g., iron and steel scrap, other metals, paper fiber) 
sustainability; C&D materials; and zero waste.

Topic 3: Measurement Methodology

    In making assessments on the methods to be used for measurement, 
please provide your insights to the following questions.
     What types of data gathering and analyses are likely to be 
most accurate and lead to clearly understandable results?
     Are the voluntary recycling standards and definitions EPA 
established in 1997 applicable or useful today? Please explain why or 
why not.
     If an open source, transparent Web-based data collection 
and measurement tool could be created, would you use it?

[[Page 46292]]

How practical and economical would such a system be?
     In determining the measurement of materials throughout 
their entire life cycle from resource extraction; material processing; 
product design and manufacturing; product use; collection and 
processing; to disposal:
    [cir] What data collection would be needed?
    [cir] What kind of measurement methodology and tools are necessary?
    [cir] What reporting framework would support your programmatic 

List of Subjects

    Environmental protection, municipal solid waste (MSW) 
characterization, MSW management, recycling, measurement, data, data 
collection, construction and demolition (C&D) recycling, source 
reduction, life cycle, life cycle systems approach, sustainable 
materials management.

    Dated: July 27, 2011.
Suzanne Rudzinski,
Director, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, Office of Solid 
Waste and Emergency Response.
[FR Doc. 2011-19515 Filed 8-1-11; 8:45 am]