The Environmental Protection Agency recently relaxed its definition of solid waste, making it easier for small businesses to recycle industrial by-products and saving them an estimated $107 million a year in disposal and processing costs.
Until now, businesses were obligated to treat some recyclable materials as hazardous waste, requiring difficult and costly disposal.
Under the new rules, small businesses can either reclaim secondary hazardous materials they have created or transfer them to another company for reclamation. Companies will also be able to petition the EPA, or a relevant state agency, to identify hazardous waste on a case-by-case basis.
"By reviewing and reforming the definition of solid waste, EPA is encouraging recycling rather than disposal," Thomas Sullivan, the Small Business Administration's chief counsel for advocacy, said in a statement. "Small businesses care about the environment and EPA's reform will reward businesses that recycle with less paperwork," he said.
Industries most likely to be affected include chemical manufacturing, coating and engraving, semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and the industrial waste management.
Other similar small-business regulatory reforms currently before federal agencies include a clearer definition of the EPA's oil spill regulations, updated FAA flight rules for the Washington D.C. metro area, and a simplified Home Office Deduction by the IRS.