In responding to a rulemaking petition from the Center for Biological Diversity requesting discarded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) be listed as a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act on Jan. 13, the EPA tentatively denied the petition.

The EPA is soliciting public comment on this denial by February 13 using Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2022-0971. 

"The EPA would have to allocate to list PVC as a hazardous waste are unwarranted and would preclude the EPA from pursuing more pressing rulemakings, implementation, and reviews with respect to currently identified hazards under RCRA," the EPA reasons in the Federal Register, referencing the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976. "Moreover, the EPA would need to conduct extensive research to understand the scope and impact of the proposed ruling, including a research survey of all potentially impacted industries and facilities. Indeed, the last rulemaking that led to a new hazardous waste listing in 2002 (Paint) required more than 2 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff for 5 years."

Funding to maintain RCRA regulations has been flat or reduced for more than 20 years and EPA is currently reviewing more than 10 other petitions involving the RCRA, EPA notes.

"Acting on the proposed listing of discarded PVC as a hazardous waste would delay rulemakings that address hazards specifically identified by the EPA where regulating the treatment, storage, transport, or disposal of the hazard would meaningfully improve public health and the environment," EPA argues.

"The Petition does not provide sufficient evidence to suggest that listing discarded PVC as a hazardous waste would have a meaningful impact, if any, on reducing exposure to phthalates, including phthalates used as plasticizers in some PVC products," EPA concludes. "The rulemaking the petition is seeking under RCRA is, by definition, limited to hazards that present a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when solid waste is improperly treated, stored, transported or disposed of, or otherwise managed (40 CFR 261.11), which does not appear to correspond to the studies or data cited in the petition."