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Will EPA Regulate PVC as Hazardous Waste?

Environmentalists are pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to undertake a rulemaking to classify discarded polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) as hazardous waste under federal law and to revise the solid waste management guidelines on disposal of PVC. AGC filed comments on June 3 on a proposed consent decree that would settle the lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in D.C. federal court, saying EPA unreasonably delayed responding to CBD’s 2014 petition that asked the agency to regulate PVC under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Under the proposed “sue and settle” agreement, EPA promised to decide within nine months whether to move forward with listing PVC as hazardous waste, which could have significant implications for the construction industry. 

AGC strongly maintains that the proposed consent decree does not provide EPA with adequate time to address the merits of the CBD’s petition. AGC has historically frowned upon “sue and settle” practices that sidestep the regulatory agenda review process and derail the agency’s ability to prioritize its resources.

AGC is concerned about any change in the regulatory status of PVC that would impact waste management practices on construction sites, create risk and liability for its use and disposal, or disrupt already beleaguered supply chains. PVC is a type of vinyl widely used in construction materials such as pipes, flooring, roofing, profiles, siding, sheeting, cables, etc. It is also used in other applications, including healthcare and fashion. 

The final consent decree would initiate a series of opportunities for EPA to engage with stakeholders and obtain data on PVC waste generation, management, and disposal. AGC has already reached out to EPA to begin the dialogue.

For more information, contact Leah Pilconis at leah.pilconis@agc.org or Melinda Tomaino at melinda.tomaino@agc.org.

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