Good afternoon. My name is Pete Didisheim. I am the Advocacy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine and I appreciate the opportunity to provide comments on DEP’s draft Chapter 858 Universal Waste Rules.
NRCM strongly supports the new paint stewardship law (38 MSRA, §2144). We believe this law has the potential to be a highly successful addition to Maine’s existing product stewardship programs, which were reviewed in DEP’s February 2014 “Implementation of Product Stewardship in Maine” report to the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
This program can benefit taxpayers by reducing municipal waste management costs currently associated with paint recycling. As demonstrated in other states, retail stores that participate as collection sites can benefit through increased foot traffic and sales. And the law will help protect the environment and human health by creating a waste management solution for paint cans that are piled up in basements, closets, and garages across Maine.
If implemented well, the program will provide an easy and convenient way for Maine people to dispose of large volumes of unused and unwanted architectural paint and paint containers. These materials will be recycled into new paint products, burned for their energy value, or converted into other products, with very little (less than 4%) ending up in landfills—according to the PaintCare website.
But the draft Chapter 858 rules have a provision that could prevent this program from getting off the ground. These draft rules depart significantly from the rules that have been adopted in the seven other states with similar laws.
As drafted, Chapter 858 includes “paint retailer”–defined as paint, hardware and home improvement stores—in the definition of a Central Accumulation Facility, which effectively makes them hazardous waste facilities subject to the full scope of hazardous waste rules. This is not what was envisioned by the statute, it is not the approach used in other states, and it is not necessary. Indeed, this language almost seems like it was inserted as a “poison pill” in an attempt to kill the program.
In the other states with paint stewardship laws, paint retail stores are the primary collection sites for used paint collection. This is how they are meeting convenience standards in their laws, such as in Oregon—which has 130 collection sites, over 90 percent of which are retail stores, with 95 percent of the population within 15 miles of a collection site.
Maine’s paint stewardship law has a similar convenience goal. In the program plan that is due to the DEP Commissioner by April 1, 2015, the entity running the program needs to include collection goals (38 MSRA §2144, 2.C.) as well as a strategy for providing that “at least 90% of the state residents have a permanent paint collection site within a 15-mile radius of their residences, unless the commissioner determines that the 90% requirement is not practicable due to geographical constraints.” (38 MSRA §2144, 2.E.)
To achieve a program that is convenient for Maine residents and businesses, we need to make it easy and attractive for paint, hardware, and home improvement stores to serve as drop off sites. These sites should not be deemed hazardous waste facilities by virtue of participating in the program. Rather, DEP should ensure that procedures are adopted for proper handling, storage, and disposal of collected materials as part of the program plan approval process—as spelled out in the law.
The entity that runs the paint stewardship program is required to include in their plan:
- “A description of how post-consumer paint collected under this section will be managed at each collection site, including how post-consumer paint will be labeled and provisions for secondary containment. (38 MSRA §2144, 2.I.)
- “A description of how consolidation facilities in the State accepting materials under this section will meet applicable requirements for the consolidation of universal waste in accordance with rules adopted by the department.” (38 MSRA §2144, 2.J.)
We believe these two requirements of the plan should provide the Commissioner with sufficient information to determine whether collected paint will be handled appropriately at retail stores—as has been proven in other states. Also, the plan must be made available for public review for at least 30 days prior to any DEP determination about the adequacy of the plan, thus ensuring additional input and evaluation.
For these reasons, we request that the Chapter 858 draft rules by amended so that architectural paint collection sites are not included in the definition of “Central Accumulation Facility.” These collection sites should be treated as conditionally exempt small quantity generators, as allowed by the federal RCRA law. DEP can use the program plan process to ensure that appropriate operating standards are met, without capturing them as regulated hazardous waste facilities.
We believe this program can be a big success for Maine people, communities, and businesses, but only if there are easy and convenient drop-off sites. Maine does not need to reinvent the wheel here in a way that is more burdensome and costly. We urge the Department to follow the lead of the seven other states with paint recycling programs. None of those states have imposed a regulatory hurdle like the one in these draft rules.
I appreciate your consideration of these comments.