The scrap metal recycling industry in California has been safely operating for 50 years and predates the establishment of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, which began in the early 1980s.
During the entire life of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, and its several predecessors in state government, the metal shredding and recycling process has never been designated or regulated as hazardous waste treatment.
In addition, the metal shredder facilities over the years have made huge capital investments and improvements to make the process even more environmentally friendly and minimize the potential for material to escape from the operations, with the California plants setting state-of-the-art standards for the entire industry nationwide.
Through more than 50 years of operation, there is no evidence that the metal shredding process constitutes a health risk.
Now, the Department is threatening to require metal recycling operators to seek and obtain permits as hazardous waste treatment facilities – far exceeding its authority under the law and long-standing state precedents and regulations.
For the last several years, the metal recycling industry has worked diligently in good faith to address operational concerns asserted by the Department of Toxic Substances Control, but despite repeated outreach by the industry and the submission of several alternative proposals, the Department has been non-responsive and has continued single-mindedly to pursue its own unlawful approach.
In fact, the ONLY part of the entire metal-shredding process over which the Department has oversight is the non-metallic material (shredded upholstery, cloth, carpet, rubber, glass, vinyl and plastic, etc.) left over after metals have been separated out of the material produced by the shredding process – known as “metal shredder residue.”
Most of this metal shredder residue (after being stabilized to reduce its solubility) is actually beneficially used as “alternative daily cover” at licensed landfills (which are required at the end of each day to distribute a layer of covering material over the trash deposited that day) – and highly monitored landfills have been accepting this material for more 50 years with no evidence of problems.