UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20460
SOLID WASTE AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE
July 12, 1996
To: Mary F. Toro, Compliance Officer
Consumer Product Safety Commission
From: Gregory Helms
Office of Solid Waste
Re: Management and Disposal of Waste Vinyl Mini blinds
We have received your questions about management and disposal
of lead-bearing vinyl mini blinds that are being discarded by
homeowners or retailers in connection with your recommendations
that they be replaced due to their potential to cause lead
poisoning. The attachment to this memo restates and answers each
of your questions.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) only
applies when blinds become a waste, i.e., they are being discarded
or disposed; any blinds being sent back to a manufacturer for sale
in other markets (e.g., for export) would not be regulated under
RCRA. However, given the health concerns about the blinds CPSC has
identified, we hope you will encourage those with stocks of blinds
not to export these products. Key points in managing and disposing
of waste blinds are: l) waste blinds from households or other
residential buildings may be disposed of as ordinary household
trash (i.e., they are exempt from Federal hazardous waste
regulation under RCRA); 2) whoever discards blinds from sources
other than households or residential buildings is responsible for
determining whether they contain enough lead to be considered a
hazardous waste, although such a determination can make use of
information from other reliable sources; 3) management and
disposal requirements for hazardous waste blinds vary depending on
the volume of waste being disposed; 4) there is a federal minimum
set of management requirements, but states may have additional
requirements, and should be consulted in planning management and
disposal of waste blinds.
QUESTIONS ON LEAD-BEARING MINIBLINDS
1. What is the appropriate disposal method that consumers should
be using for their lead-bearing vinyl miniblinds?
EPA's regulations state that wastes from households (i.e,
garbage and trash) are not regulated as hazardous waste under the
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (see 40 CFR 261.4(b)(1)).
Therefore, consumers may dispose of their miniblinds in the same
manner that they discard ordinary household trash. They may put
the blinds out with the garbage, or they may contact a commercial
2. If consumers have numerous miniblinds in their homes to dispose
of, e.g., if a household had 15 miniblinds for disposal, would
this be treated differently than a household that had only one or
No. EPA's regulations provide that wastes from households
are not regulated as hazardous, and there are no limitations on
the quantity of the wastes.
3. What is the appropriate disposal method for apartment
complexes, hotels, military bases and hospital facilities that
house many people and may have over 1,000 lead-bearing miniblinds
to dispose of?
EPA's regulations provide that wastes from single and
multiple residences, hotels, motels, bunkhouses, crew quarters,
and ranger stations are considered household wastes and are not
regulated as hazardous under RCRA (see 40 CFR 261.4(b)). These
facilities may therefore dispose of the blinds in the same manner
that they discard other trash or garbage.
However, hospitals and other non-residential buildings are
not considered generators of household wastes. They are subject to
the same disposal requirements that apply to retailers, which are
described in the answer to question #4 below. Therefore, waste
blinds generated from military base housing units would be exempt,
while waste blinds generated from offices, day care centers, and
other buildings would not be exempted as household waste.
4) How should retailers dispose of the miniblinds they have in
inventory if they decide to dispose of them and not return them to
the place of manufacture? Retailers may have tens of thousands of
blinds in inventory.
Once a retailer decides to dispose of the miniblinds, he
must 1) determine whether they are a hazardous waste (see 40 CFR
262.10 and #6 below), and if they are hazardous, 2) determine his
size status as a generator, because requirements vary depending on
the quantity of a hazardous waste generated. He should then
contact his state hazardous waste agency for more information on
management and compliance in his state because states may have
their own regulations governing hazardous waste.
The retailer can determine his generator status by
calculating how much hazardous waste he or she generates in a
calendar month (40 CFR 262.10(b) and 261.5(b) and (c)). If the
retailer generates less than 100 kg of hazardous waste
(mini-blinds plus any other hazardous waste generated on site)
then the retailer would be classified as a Conditionally Exempt
Small Quantity Generator (CESQG). A retailer who generates between
a 100 kg and 1000 kg of hazardous waste in a calendar month would
be classified as a Small Quantity Generator (SQG); and a retailer
who generates more than 1000 kg of hazardous waste in a single
calendar month is classified as a Large Quantity Generator (LQG).
Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators have minimal
requirements for handling hazardous waste (40 CFR 261.5), and may
dispose of waste blinds in non-hazardous waste facilities,
although disposal must be in state approved facilities. Some
states have additional requirements for CESQGs beyond the Federal
minimum, so retailers should always contact their state hazardous
waste agency for complete information on applicable requirements.
Both SQGs and LQGs are required to handle hazardous waste
under EPA's hazardous waste regulations (40 CFR 262 - 270), and
ultimately ensure their disposal in regulated hazardous waste
disposal facilities. The requirements for SQGs are similar but
less stringent than those for LQGs. Both SQGs and LQGs may be
? obtain an EPA identification number (40 CFR 262.12)
? prepare the hazardous waste for shipment (package, label,
mark, placard) (40 CFR 262.30 - 262.33)
? manifest the waste for shipment to a hazardous waste
treatment, storage, disposal, or recycling facility (40 CFR
262.20 - 262.23, 262.42)
? manage the hazardous waste on site in an environmentally
sound manner (40 CFR 262.34)
? do record keeping and/or reporting (40 CFR 262.40 - 262-41)
? ensure the waste meets treatment standards before land
disposal (40 CFR 268)
? comply with export and import requirements when necessary
(40 CFR Subparts E and F).
Again, some state requirements may vary from the minimum
federal requirements, so contacting the state regulatory agency is
5. Should retailers treat consumer returned merchandise
differently than inventoried products?
As state regulations vary, generators of hazardous waste
should always check with their state hazardous waste authority for
more information on management and compliance.
Assuming the blinds are a hazardous waste, generally,
retailers may dispose of miniblinds returned from consumers and
those from inventoried stock either separately or together. A
retailer who chooses to handle them separately may take advantage
of the household waste exclusion for the blinds returned from
households (see questions 1, 2, and 3). However, the inventoried
stock must be managed as described in the response to question 4.
Because only miniblinds generated in a household (as defined in 40
CFR 2661.4 (b)(l)) are eligible for the household waste exclusion,
the retailer must be certain that miniblinds returned from other
regulated sources such as businesses and commercial facilities are
not mixed with those from households. The miniblinds returned from
sources other than households should be handled along with the
inventoried stock as a regulated hazardous waste.
If a retailer does not wish to segregate different groups of
blinds, or if he wishes to adopt the most environmentally
conservative approach, he may handle both groups together as
described in the response to question 4.
6. Does EPA require testing to determine that waste is hazardous?
Once the retailer (or manufacturer) decides to dispose of
the miniblinds, he is required to determine whether they are a
hazardous waste. This means the retailer must either test a
representative sample of the miniblinds to see if they are
considered a hazardous waste (see #7 below), or the retailer or
manufacturer may also rely on knowledge of the composition and
properties of the blinds in making this determination (40 CFR
261.10(a)(2)). If the retailer does not want to test the
miniblinds, the most conservative approach is to handle all of the
miniblinds as if they were hazardous waste. Although testing is
not required, if subsequent testing by EPA or others demonstrates
that the waste was hazardous, an incorrect determination made
based on knowledge would leave a waste generator (the retailer or
manufacturer) vulnerable to enforcement action.
7. What test method does the EPA recommend to retailers to
determine whether their inventory is hazardous? Are there
certified laboratories that can conduct these tests?
The toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP;
Method-1311) test would be used to determine whether lead-bearing
vinyl mini-blinds are a hazardous waste when disposed. EPA does
not certify laboratories that perform the TCLP test. However, many
reputable commercial laboratories are capable of performing the
test. Testing labs can be identified by contacting the
International Association of Testing Labs, at 703-739-2188, or
ACIL, at 202-887-5872.
8. Where can retailers get a copy of the test method?
Retailers will generally want to rely on a testing lab to
understand the test method details. Copies of the TCLP test
method are available as a part of the EPA analytic methods manual,
SW-846 (through NTIS, 703-487-4650), or from the analytical
methods information communication exchange (MICE) hotline, at
9. What level of lead is hazardous for purposes of disposal?
The TCLP test uses a sample of the waste and a leaching
solution (in a ratio of 1:20). After mixing the waste with the
leaching solution, the leaching solution is tested for hazardous
constituent concentration. If lead in the leaching solution is
present at a concentration higher than 5 mg/l (or ppm), the waste
would be considered to be hazardous, and would be required to be
managed and disposed as a hazardous waste.
10. Is there a contact person at EPA that can offer retailers
guidance on disposal if their inventory is determined to be
For further assistance in understanding the applicable
hazardous waste regulations, the retailer should contact the
hazardous waste agency in his or her state. Other assistance
resources include the EPA Resources Centers, the RCRA hotline
(800/424-9346 or 703/412-9810), or the EPA Regional office.
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