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Newsroom Archive

Welcome to the CRC Newsroom, your source of recent information on environmental regulatory, enforcement, and sustainability issues that are directly relevant to the retail industry. Alongside the latest news, are the Hot Topics with resources on pressing regulatory developments and CRC Insights, short articles that highlight trends and key issues within retail environmental compliance and sustainability.

​Automotive Repair Shop Will Pay $2.35M Settlement Over Hazardous Waste Found in Trash

Deadlines for CA Right to Know Act Quickly Approaching

Updates to the Pharm Rule and Consumer Bag Legislation Matrices

Holiday Food Waste Blog Post

Introducing the RCC's Newest Member


​RCC's New Pharm Rule State Adoption Tracking Tools

Updates to RCC Matrices

CA Environmental Regulatory Structure Blog Post


​Retailer Agrees to $4.2 Million Settlement for Refrigerant Emission Violations

Environmental Compliance in California Fact Sheet

Environmental Compliance in California Webinar Recording

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​EPA Press Release (09/26/2016)

EPA GreenChill Webinar (10/26/2016 at 2pm ET) This will provide an overview of the revised refrigerant management regulations with specific emphasis on how the rule changes affect supermarkets. 


Effective May 11, 2016, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) requires that retailers display generic warning signs at point-of-sale if they carry BPA-containing products. This a temporary measure during the transition to direct warning labels on BPA products.

OEHHA Notice on New Signage Requirements

*NEW*OEHHA BPA​ Labels​​

What Those California Grocery Store BPA Warning Signs Mean - And How They Got There (Source: Can Science)​


​OSHA has modified the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). This will impact retailers with private label products and is effective from June 1, 2016.

OSHA Hazard Communication Standard​

OSHA Questio​ns and Answers on the New Standard


The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) Final Rule​ regarding the reverse logistics shipments of certain hazardous materials by highway transportation is effective as of March 31, 2016.

The Final Rule creates a new section (49 CFR 173.157) in the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR parts 171-180) with provisions specific to reverse logistics of certain hazardous materials by highway transportation. The Final Rule adds a definition of “reverse logistics" of hazardous materials at 49 CFR 171.8: “Reverse logistics means the process of offering for transport or transporting by motor vehicle goods from a retail store for return to its manufacturer, supplier, or distribution facility for the purpose of capturing value (e.g., to receive manufacturer's credit), recall, replacement, recycling, or similar reason."

The Final Rule also expands a previously existing exception for return shipments of used automobile batteries transported between a retail facility and a recycling center (49 CFR 173.159).


​Owners of emergency engines that are made available for emergency demand response must submit an annual report by March 31, 2016.

EPA Reminder - Emergency Engine Electronics Reports Due March 31, 2016​


Effective in July 2015, new enforcement regulations went into effect that impose civil penalties for violations of the appliance efficiency regulations. Specifically, the new enforcement regulations identify three categories of violations: failure to register appliances in the appliance efficiency database, failure to meet the efficiency standards or comply with the regulations relating to testing, marketing or certifying that an appliance meets the efficiency standards, and knowingly providing false information in a statement made under penalty of perjury pursuant to any of the efficiency regulations. The penalty is up to $2,500 per appliance. ​

If a retailer sells, or offers for sale, new appliances or devices that use electricity, natural gas, or water to California customers, California’s Appliance Efficiency regulations likely apply. Regulated products must be listed in the Energy Commission’s Appliance Efficiency Database. Only regulated products that have been tested, certified and listed in the database may be legally sold or offered for sale in the state.

Water appliance amendments to the state’s appliance efficiency regulations also went into effect on January 1, 2016. The amendments prohibit the sale and installation of certain toilets, urinals and faucets that do not meet minimum water efficiency requirements, regardless of the manufactured date. 


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is instituting a standard limit (effective April 1, 2016) on the acceptable battery charge of lithium batteries (not to exceed 30% of their rated design capacity) when transported as cargo with accompanying requirements on the volume of packages transported, over pack labelling and loading with other cargo.

IATA Update on Lithium Batteries

IATA Lithium Battery Guidance Document 2016

IATA In-Company Training Course: Shipping Lithium Batteries By Air

IATA Classroom Training Course: Shipping Lithium Batteries By Air


Depending on the amount of waste they generate every week, California businesses will have to recycle organic wastes (such as food waste, landscape waste, nonhazardous wood waste and food soiled paper) on or after April 1, 2016. Recycling is accomplished through composting and mulching, or anaerobic digestion. The law has been chaptered in the Public Resources Code, so California will not be establishing any regulations for the law.

CalRecycle Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling (MORe) page

CalRecycle Brochure


​Changes to federal regulations for USTs include new requirements related to secondary containment, training, operation and maintenance, and more. ​(Note: these are changes to federal regulations and state requirements may vary.)

EPA UST page with more information.

EPA booklet​ for owners and operators of Underground Storage Tanks (UST) that describes the 2015 revised federal UST regulations.

EPA News Release: EPA Prevents Harmful Chemical from Entering the Marketplace
"There must be a level playing field for U.S. businesses – which is why we're targeting harmful chemicals no longer used in the U.S. that find their way into commerce, sometimes through imported products."
-Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. 12/17/2014 News Release

EPA SNUR: Benzidine-based Dyes Final SNUR
"Prohibits most uses of Benzidine-based dyes in textiles, paints & inks, AND specifically prohibits the importation of articles (e.g. clothing) containing such dyes until a Significant New Use Notice is reviewed."

EPA SNUR: Long-Chain Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylate
“Proposed SNUR for certain long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) and would prohibit import of articles containing LCPFAC (this includes PFOA).”

EPA SNUR: Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonate
“Proposal to amend an old SNUR for perfluoroalkyl sulfonate substances (PFAS) that are not in use in the U.S. to make article exemption inapplicable to importers of PFAS in carpets.”

EPA Proposed SNUR: Hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCD) & Polybrominated Diphenyl Ehters (PBDEs)
"2012 proposed SNUR for hexabromocyclodedecanes (HBCD) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) would also eliminate the articles exemption."
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CRC Insights


Thanksgiving is right around the corner and while grocery retailers are stocking up on the holiday classics, they are also bracing for the holiday food waste. The RCC has several resources to help retailers understand waste related regulations and opportunities around reducing food waste.

First and perhaps most important, is for retailers to implement effective programs to ensure compliance with regulations and company policies. Second is to set goals around waste reduction and diversion. Your compliance program can also help you achieve your waste management goals. The RCC has two tools to help retailers evaluate and implement compliance programs. First is the RILA Retail Advisor: Environmental Compliance. This platform helps retailers evaluate and benchmark their compliance programs, including solid waste. The RCC also has guidance and tools on Environmental Management Systems (EMS) for retail. Even if you are not implementing an EMS, the tools can help with program evaluation and gap analysis.

The RCC also has information on regulations that relate to food and related solid waste. The RCC Solid Waste Page covers food waste, and the RCC pages on environmental regulations that apply to grocery stores and food service and prepared foods have additional information on food and related waste. For more detailed information on organics regulations, including requirements in some jurisdictions for food diversion, consult the Mandatory Organics Fact Sheet or watch our past webinar on Organics Recycling regulations.

To stay up to date on organic waste regulations, sign up for RCC Alerts, our monthly email that touches on the latest topics in environmental compliance in retail.

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Do you ever wonder how your environmental compliance program compares to other companies? Do you wonder if you are under or over managing elements of your program? For retail environmental compliance managers, these questions are top of mind every day. As a trade association representing the largest retailers in the US, we know there is great value in understanding the answers.

That's why we developed the RILA Retail Advisor: Environmental Compliance. The Advisor is a web-based platform that lays out the framework for a retail-specific environmental compliance program and offers guidance on advancing your program, informed by your company's specific needs and goals. The Advisor now includes peer benchmarking so that companies can evaluate their program across the industry.

The Compliance Advisor maps a retail environmental compliance program across four levels, each reflecting an increasingly centralized and optimized program. In viewing the framework on its own, companies can see what elements differentiate the program levels, for example programs focused purely on compliance from those focused on environmental performance and moving towards sustainability. When companies input their specific company data, they can design an optimum program based on their compliance obligations, operations, level of risk, and corporate culture. With the peer benchmarking feature, they can compare their program to companies with a similar profile. For example, based on the level of regulations that would typically apply, a stand-alone store with grocery or gas would have more regulatory requirements than a small store located in a mall.

In short, the Retail Advisor offers an innovative approach to evaluating a company's environmental compliance program, comparing it with other retail programs, gaining a holistic view of the industry at large, and identifying specific opportunities to advance your program and optimize resources.

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Implementing the right program can reduce the risk of non-compliance, which can be both monetary and reputational, and help companies set goals to reduce risks and improve company performance. Conversely, implementing an overly comprehensive program can waste resources without improving performance. Using the Retail Advisor helps you start the discussion of where your program should be.

The Retail Advisor is free and open to all retailers. To get started, fill in the registration form to create your account and get access to the Retail Advisor. For more information, visit the RILA Retail Advisor: Environmental Compliance page. If you have questions, contact Tiffin Shewmake at tiffin.shewmake@rila.org.

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Three years after being signed into law, compliance deadlines for the California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act are quickly approaching. The main purpose of the October 2017 Act is to require manufacturers of cleaning products to disclose ingredient information of designated products on the product label and the manufacturer's website.

The deadlines for The Act are:

  • On or after January 1, 2020, online disclosures of intentionally added ingredients, fragrance ingredients, or nonfunctional constituents shall be made available for public access.
  • On or after January 1, 2021, disclosures of intentionally added ingredients, fragrance ingredients, or nonfunctional constituents may be labeled on a designated product. If a manufacturer does not wish to disclose relevant ingredients, they shall include the manufacturer's toll-free telephone number and internet web site address. (Note: This label exemption does not apply to products defined as a pesticide under Section 12753 of the Food and Agricultural Code.)
  •  On or after January 1, 2023, Prop 65 ingredients must be included on the ingredient list, including intentional fragrance ingredients.

Designated products that do not have the appropriate disclosure by the required deadline are not eligible for sale in the State of California. 

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The EPA's Pharmaceutical Waste Rule (Also known as the Pharm Rule) took effect this past August. However, in most states, the rule must be adopted through state-level processes before it becomes effective. States are not required to adopt the Amendment to the P075 Listing for Nicotine as it is considered less stringent. This makes keeping track of where the rule is effective confusing. To help, the RCC has developed two new tools to track key dates and information on state implementation.

The Pharm Rule tracking matrix will be available on the new RCC website, and include publication dates, public hearing dates, comment periods and meeting notices, changes to nicotine regulations, and variations between state and federal regulations. In the interim, we are publishing a pdf document of this information.

We have also developed an interactive map showing state rulemaking status and estimated adoption dates.

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Ensuring compliance in California with environmental regulations is challenging. The state has a confusing structure of multiple regulatory jurisdictions that can result in variability in the regulations, interpretation and enforcement. This structure is especially difficult for retailers who operate in numerous locations. In addition, California has not been shy with enforcement, leading to multimillion-dollar settlements against retailers, the largest of which are related to hazardous waste management.

To develop effective compliance programs, retailers need to understand both the environmental regulations that apply to retail operations as well as the universe of state regulatory agencies and responsibilities. To help, the RCC has developed a fact sheet on the California Regulatory Structure for Retailers. A brief look at the California regulatory structure is below, the fact sheet provides a more detailed look at the agencies, their responsibilities, and key regulations.

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) is a Cabinet level agency with a mission to "restore, protect and enhance the environment, to ensure public health, environmental quality and economic vitality." CalEPA departments and regulatory programs most relevant to retailers include:

  • Department of Toxic Substances and Control (DTSC) – Oversight of the Hazardous Waste Management Program.
  • The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) – Home of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65.
  • California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) – Covers non-hazardous solid waste and recycling programs including organics management, and recycling of materials such as electronics, used tires, paint, and mattresses and motor oil.
  • Department of Public Health (DPH) – Medical Waste Management Act.
  • California Air Resources Board (CARB) – Sets emission standards for vehicles, fuels, and consumer products, and refrigerant management. CARB also oversees the 35 local air pollution control districts, which manage permitting and compliance for stationary sources, including emergency generators.

Another relevant agency is the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OFSM), which assists the Hazardous Material Management Plan (HMMP) and the Hazardous Materials Inventory Statement (HMIS) programs.

Perhaps the most visible entity for retailers are the Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPA). CalEPA oversees the California Unified Program, which gives authority to the CUPAs for permitting and enforcement for several programs that are relevant to retailers. These areas include petroleum storage tanks, accidental release programs, Hazardous Materials Plan and Inventory statements, and hazardous waste generators. Each California county is required to have a certified CUPA but other cities or local agencies such as fire departments, may also request CUPA certification.

The CUPAs are where "the rubber meets the road" as they are the agencies that permit and inspect facilities for the areas listed above. CUPAs can implement enforcement actions for non-compliance or refer enforcement matters to county district attorneys, state-level agencies or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The annual CUPA conference is an opportunity for regulated entities to meet and hear from CUPA regulators. 

Key California Environmental Regulations for Retailers

The RCC Fact Sheet also covers key environmental regulations that can apply in retail operations such as:

  • Hazardous Materials Management – retail-relevant regulated materials include refrigerants used onsite, propane for forklifts, and helium.
  • Hazardous Waste including Universal Waste – can include unsalable products that meet certain criteria as well as operational waste.
  • Medical Waste Management – applies to facilities that generate medical waste, which can include pharmaceuticals plus medical waste such as used syringes and body fluids.
  • Proposition 65 – requires warnings about exposure to chemicals on OEHHA list.
  • Refrigerant Management – program requires activities such as leak inspections and repair, and reporting. Differs from federal requirements.
  • Emergency Generator air permitting – managed by local air permitting control districts (APCD)
  • Commercial recycling – requirements for recycling.
  • Organics recycling – requirements for organics recycling.

Retailers need to be aware of the requirements for these areas, at the state but also frequently at the local level as well keep track of changes or new programs.

After reading the California Regulatory Structure for Retailers Fact Sheet, visit the RCC website for additional resources on regulations and program management.

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Pharmacy.jpgEPA's  new Pharmaceutical Waste Rule is almost here but not everywhere at the same time. Federally, the rule goes into effect on August 21st and on that date, the prohibition on sewer disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals will apply in all states. However, this is not the case for the rest of the rule as each state is different is how they adopt federal hazardous waste rules.

In some states, the rule will be in effect on August 21st, while others may take until 2022. States are not required to adopt the nicotine related amendments that makes nicotine replacement therapies such as gums and patches nonhazardous, as this is considered less stringent than the current rules. (Note that this does NOT include other types of nicotine products such as e-cigarettes and related cartridges and vials, and prescription nicotine.)

On August 21, the rule will be in effect in states that don't manage their own waste programs or that adopt the federal rules by reference. These jurisdictions are:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia (on August 23rd)
  • Puerto Rico and
  • all US territories


In North Carolina, the amendment regarding nicotine will be in effect on August 21st while the rest of the rule will need to be adopted, which can take up to a year.

The Retail Compliance Center will be tracking state adoption of this rule. This tracking matrix will include information on publication dates, public hearing dates, comment periods and meeting notices, and variations between state and federal regulations.  

For notification when this tool is launched, sign up for RCC Alerts.  

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Just this summer, Oregon and Delaware passed bans on the distribution of single-use consumer bags within retail stores. They are the latest in a growing number of states and municipalities with consumer bag legislation, with many others on the brink of joining. During this exciting time for environmentalists, however, it is becoming harder to keep track of who has consumer bag legislation on the books as ordinances continue to roll in; a task made more difficult as some jurisdictions keep changing their minds about consumer bag legislation or finding other issues with their bans.

For example, Homer, Alaska passed a ban on plastic bags in 2012, then rescinded it, just to put it back on the ballot again this year. In North Carolina, the state recently overturned local consumer bag bans in beach-side communities in the Outer Banks- bans that had been in place for 8 years. This year, the State of Colorado noticed that a 1993 statute related to recycling actually banned municipalities from banning plastic bag bans. In the 26 years before the ban on bag legislation resurfaced, ten municipalities had enacted local consumer bag legislation, unaware or keeping quiet that they were violating state regulations.

Within all this swirling legislative change, the Retail Compliance Center is attempting to help retailers know up from down. We have compiled an ever-growing list of states and municipalities that have consumer bag legislation, broken down into key provisions. An actively updated consumer bag legislation matrix will be available on the RCC website in September; in the interim, we are providing a summary of legislation updated as of July. The summary outlines statewide consumer bag legislation, including bag bans, a ban on bag bans, and/or a fee. Also included are the types of bags allowed, as well as specifications for the allowable bags.

To stay up to date on bag bans, sign up for RCC Alerts, our monthly email that touches on the latest topics in environmental compliance in retail.

Kevin Gibney, Coordinator, Environmental Programs and Retail Compliance Center

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Effective August 1, 2019, retailers in Connecticut must charge a $0.10 fee for every single-use plastic bag provided to consumers. The bag charge is followed in 2 years by a prohibition, starting June 30, 2021, on retailers providing single use plastic bags. This new requirement was included in the 580-page budget that was passed Monday July 1, 2019 by the Connecticut General Assembly, making Connecticut the fifth state to enact statewide legislation regarding plastic bags. The bag requirements, in Section 355 of House Bill No. 7424 Public Act No. 19-117 can be found starting on page 532.

Under the legislation, a "single-use checkout bag" is defined as a plastic bag with a thickness of less than four mils that is provided by a store to a customer at the point of sale. It does not include: (A) A bag provided to contain meat, seafood, loose produce or other unwrapped food items; (B) a newspaper bag; or (C) a laundry or dry-cleaning bag.

The legislation does not prevent municipalities from enacting or enforcing local single-use plastic bag related ordinances, as long as the local ordinance is at least as stringent as the state requirements. Municipalities are also free to enact ordinances related to checkout bags made of paper.

To stay up to date, sign up for RCC Alerts, our monthly email that touches on the latest topics in environmental compliance in retail.

Kevin Gibney, Coordinator, Environmental Programs and Retail Compliance Center

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In 1976, the top single was Silly Love Songs by Paul McCartney and Wings, mood rings were serious jewelry and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was signed into law. A lot has changed since then. For RCRA, this includes some recent rule changes with major implications for retail. The RCC has information on these changes including a section on the Hot Topics Page with links to proposed and new rules, plus blog posts on the specific changes.

Major changes that will impact retail are listed below.

Ignitable liquids

On April 2, 2019, the EPA proposed numerous changes to the ignitability characteristic under RCRA. While mostly technical in nature, some aspects for the proposed rule could result in additional wastes to be classified as hazardous, which could increase hazardous waste volumes for some retailers (This article by Beveridge & Diamond has detailed information on the proposed changes). The Retail Industry Leaders Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores submitted comments on behalf of their members opposing proposed changes that increase the burden on retail but are not necessary to protect human health or the environment.

Pharm Rule

On August 21, 2019, the Pharmaceutical Waste rule (Pharm Rule) will set new federal standards for retailers and others defined as healthcare facilities to manage hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. Big news for retailers in the new rule is the exclusion of FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies (patches, gums, lozenges) from the P075 acute hazardous waste listing. Other changes that may impact retail include the prohibition on sewer disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals, and new rules around the management of waste pharmaceuticals. The sewer prohibition is effective across the country on August 21, 2019. The other elements are only effective in August for the states and territories where EPA manages the hazardous waste program – Iowa, Alaska, Indian Country, and US Territories (except Guam). For other states, the rules will be effective as the states adopt them and there could be variations from the federal rules. 

The RCC Blog has several articles with more information including Pharm Rule- Key Provisions for Retailers and Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals – Regulatory Amendment Update for Retailers. The RCC will also be posting information on the status of state implementation. Sign up for RCC Alerts to be notified when this new resource is launched.

Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

On October 28, 2016, the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule was finalized. According to EPA's fact sheet on the rule, these changes provide increased flexibility for some generators, such as very small quantity generators (VSQGs), improve environmental protection with changes to emergency planning and revised labeling requirements, and clarify inconsistent guidance. The rule also reorganizes the regulations to consolidate them in one place and replace cross reference lists.  

The RCC is tracking state adoption of this new rule on the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements State Tracking Matrix.


On March 16, 2018, the EPA proposed a rule to add hazardous waste aerosol cans to RCRA's universal waste program, which several state programs, such as California and Colorado, already allow. Once finalized, the hope is that this rule will provide establishments, including retail, with a clear, protective system for managing discarded aerosol cans. A previous RCC article highlights why retailers have been supporting this rule adoption for years. The comment period closed on May 15th, and we should have a resolution on the immediate horizon.

To keep up with the latest news on the aerosol rule, visit the RCC hot topics page, which has a section about this proposed rule.

The RCC website has more information on these changes including a section on the Hot Topics Page with links to proposed and new rules, plus blog posts on specific changes. To stay up to date, sign up for RCC Alerts, our monthly email that touches on the latest topics in environmental compliance in retail.

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The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently passed amendments to its hazardous waste regulations. These new rules, found at 40 CFR 266 Subpart P, apply to the management and disposal of pharmaceutical waste by healthcare facilities. The intent of the new rules is to provide a framework that is more efficient and effective for the healthcare sector, while still being protective of the environment and human health.

Healthcare facilities impacted by the new rules include some types of facilities commonly found in retail. These include health clinics, optical providers, pharmacies (including long-term care and mail-order pharmacies), and retailers of pharmaceuticals. The rules generally do not apply to pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The new Subpart P rules define pharmaceuticals to include prescription drugs, dietary supplements, over-the-counter drugs, homeopathic drugs, compounded dugs, investigational new drugs, electronic nicotine delivery systems (like vape pens, e-cigarettes, and their cartridges and refill vials). The rules also apply to residual pharmaceuticals remaining in containers or contaminating personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, and to materials used to clean up spills of pharmaceuticals. The rules do not apply to dental amalgam, sharps, or medical waste – which are covered under other rules at the federal and state levels.

The new rules focus on three main concepts that impact healthcare facilities:

  • Prohibit sewer disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals
  • Re-evaluate the listing of nicotine as an acutely hazardous waste (P075)
  • Establish new rules for the management and disposal of waste pharmaceuticals that are expected to be more efficient for the healthcare industry

Note that there are other aspects of the new Subpart P rules that apply to reverse distributors and are not discussed here.

The prevention on sewer disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals was issued under the authority of the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments and is effective in all states on August 21, 2019. EPA has long discouraged sewer disposal of pharmaceuticals, but this rule makes it illegal for healthcare facilities and reverse distributors to put hazardous waste pharmaceuticals into the sewer system (such as discharging syringes into a sink or flushing pills down a toilet). EPA continues to discourage sewer disposal of pharmaceuticals that are not hazardous waste, and some states and municipalities have banned this as well.

In the past, EPA has required the management and disposal of nicotine patches, gums, and lozenges – and the containers and packaging associated with these items – as acutely hazardous waste (waste code P075). This has been challenging for the healthcare industry because there are very low thresholds for the generation and accumulation of acutely hazardous waste. With the new rules, EPA has determined that FDA-approved over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy products no longer need to be managed as acutely hazardous waste. Patches, gums, lozenges, and their associated packaging can be disposed of as non-hazardous waste (i.e., municipal solid waste or trash). Other types of nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes and their associated cartridges and vials, prescription nicotine, pesticides containing nicotine, and nicotine used in research and manufacturing must still be managed as acutely hazardous waste (waste code P075). This portion of the new rules only applies in states and territories where EPA manages the hazardous waste program – Iowa, Alaska, Indian Country, and US Territories (except Guam) – on August 21, 2019. Other states have to adopt the changes before they are effective.

Finally, the new Subpart P rules provide a new framework that healthcare facilities can use for managing and disposing of waste pharmaceuticals. Facilities must either determine if individual waste pharmaceutical products are hazardous or non-hazardous, or they can opt to manage all of their waste pharmaceuticals as hazardous waste. The framework considers "potentially creditable," "non-creditable," and "evaluated hazardous waste" pharmaceuticals.

  • Evaluated hazardous waste pharmaceuticals are those that have been characterized – anywhere within the management process – as being hazardous waste. These must still be sent to a facility that is licensed to accept hazardous waste for treatment and disposal.
  • Non-creditable items include those that a facility would not expect to receive reverse distribution credit for, such as items that are broken or leaking, repackaged, dispensed, or more than one year past their expiration date. Non-creditable items also include investigational new drugs, contaminated PPE, floor sweepings, and spill clean-up materials. Under the new rules, healthcare facilities that opt to manage all waste pharmaceuticals as hazardous waste can store non-creditable hazardous and non-hazardous waste pharmaceuticals (comingled) in closed and structurally sound containers, labeled as "Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals," for up to one year. When sending these materials to a disposal facility, they will use the code "PHARMS" on the hazardous waste manifest instead of individual waste codes. (Reverse distributors must use the traditional waste codes.)
  • Potentially creditable items are those that a facility reasonably expects to receive reverse distribution credit for, such as items in their original manufacturer packaging (except recalled products), un-dispensed products, and products that are either not yet expired or that are less than one year past their expiration date. Under the new rules, healthcare facilities that opt to manage all waste pharmaceuticals as hazardous waste can comingle potentially creditable hazardous and non-hazardous waste pharmaceuticals in a single container that is not subject to labeling requirements or accumulation time limits. They will send the items to a reverse distributor by common carrier (e.g., FedEx, UPS, US Postal Service) using a trackable method with delivery confirmation.

The new management framework only applies in states and territories where EPA manages the hazardous waste program – Iowa, Alaska, Indian Country, and US Territories (except Guam) – on August 21, 2019. Other states will have to adopt the changes before they are effective, and each state may choose to make certain modifications or adjustments to the Federal rules.

For more information, visit the US EPA's webpage on the new rules: 


Further information can be found on the RCC website through the links below:


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EPA's new rule for managing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals (84 Fed. Reg. 5816, Feb. 22, 2019) starts going into effect on August 21, 2019.  The rule creates new standards for retailers and others defined as healthcare facilities to manage hazardous waste pharmaceuticals ("HWP"), including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for humans and animals, dietary supplements, and e-cigarette liquids. 


The rule also excludes FDA-approved OTC nicotine replacement therapies (e.g., patches, gums, lozenges) from the P075 acute hazardous waste listing.  This nicotine exclusion is significant because many retail stores may have been classified as large quantity generators ("LQG") and subject to onerous regulations based on the generation of only 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of such nicotine wastes in a single month. In other words, OTC nicotine replacement therapies will no longer be considered hazardous waste by EPA, although, as described below, states are not required to adopt this part of the rule.


While the new management standards for HWP eventually will go into effect in all states (see discussion of timing below), states are not required to adopt the nicotine exclusion or other "less stringent" parts of the rule.  The result could be a patchwork of state adoption of the nicotine exclusion and a challenging compliance landscape for retailers.  


Key Provisions of Pharmaceutical Rule


  • Sewer Ban:  Prohibits retailers (and other health care facilities and reverse distributors) from disposing of HWP by pouring them down the drain (i.e., sinks, toilets, floor drains).


  • HWP Management Standards in New 40 CFR Subpart P:  Replaces existing RCRA hazardous waste rules for all HWP generated by "health care facilities," including retailers, and imposes specific requirements for reverse distributors of HWP.  Management standards vary based on whether a HWP is potentially eligible to receive manufacturer credit through the reverse distribution process.


  • Nicotine:  Excludes from the P075 acute hazardous waste listing all discarded FDA-approved OTC nicotine replacement therapies (e.g., gums, patches, lozenges).  Does not exclude prescription nicotine replacement therapies or e-cigarette liquids, although these wastes may be managed under the new Subpart P. 

  • Additional "RCRA Empty" definitions:  Exempts from hazardous waste regulation containers, syringes, and IV bags of acutely hazardous or non-acutely hazardous waste pharmaceuticals meeting specific criteria of "empty."

  • Recalls, Litigation Holds, Drug Trials:  New exclusion from hazardous waste rules for pharmaceuticals managed under these special circumstances to facilitate removal and consolidation, although hazardous pharmaceuticals ultimately would have to be managed as hazardous waste.

  • DEA Controlled Substances:  New exclusion from hazardous waste rules if controlled substances are handled per DEA rules and destroyed in a regulated incinerator or by another DEA-approved method.


In addition to the specific rule changes listed above, in the preamble to the final rule, EPA discusses its policy on reverse logistics for all unused/returned consumer products (not only pharmaceuticals) and under what circumstances those products would become subject to regulation as hazardous wastes. 


Timing of Implementation


The sewering ban goes into effect in all states automatically on August 21, 2019, regardless of whether the states have taken action. (EPA adopted the sewering ban under its HSWA authority.)


The entire rule (including subpart P and the nicotine exclusion) goes into effect on August 21, 2019 in Iowa, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and any states that automatically adopt EPA rules (e.g., New Jersey, Pennsylvania).


Other states must adopt the "more stringent" provisions before they become effective in those states, including the new HWP management standards in Subpart P.  However, it is optional for the states to adopt the "less stringent" provisions, including the nicotine exclusion.  States are taking a range of approaches to adoption.  Ohio has announced that it will begin a rulemaking process to adopt the new EPA rule, specifically seeking comment on whether Ohio should adopt the "optional provision" excluding FDA-approved OTC nicotine replacement therapies.  North Carolina has announced plans to adopt the new rule and to allow companies to take advantage of the nicotine exclusion prior to the state adopting the full rule.  Minnesota has announced plans to phase in the various requirements of the new rule, with the nicotine exclusion to be effective immediately.  Other states either have initiated or will be initiating rulemaking processes in the near future.  

Aaron Goldberg, Partner, Beveridge & Diamond
Elizabeth Richardson, Partner, Beveridge & Diamond
Beveridge & Diamond PC- The Environmental Law Firm

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​As consumers increasingly turn to e-commerce, retailers with physical stores are developing new strategies to compete against online marketplaces. What’s often missing from the conversation is the advantage that retailers gain by incorporating circularity into their business model, for example through customer-facing takeback programs. Brick and mortar stores can offer an immersive retail experience that no e-commerce platform can match by engaging customers in a cause, and infusing meaning into the store trip by providing customers with relevant recycling solutions.  

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Soul Searching

Brick and mortar isn’t going away anytime soon, but with a number of iconic store chains like Toys R Us, Brookstone, and Sears filing for bankruptcy, traditional retailers are doing some soul-searching. An important part of this search is considering how to benefit from the trend of shoppers looking for brands that elevate the shopping experience beyond a mere transaction, to infusing purpose and meaning into the interaction. Recent studies have shown that the trend of consumers willing to pay more for more sustainable products is largely driven by millennials and Gen Z consumers.

Brands are finding that taking public stands can be positive, like the growth in Nike’s share price after signing Colin Kaepernick. Social and environmental product certifications continue to grow to fulfill the desire for consumers for greater discernment for who, what, and where they spend their money. One critical area where brick-and-mortar retailers have a clear advantage over e-commerce in responding to this consumer shift is via the circular economy. 
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Sustainability Through Circularity

The notion of circularity is as simple as turning a line into a circle. By bending the line of our current linear consumption systems into a more circular one, materials are able to cycle around at their highest and best use, rather than be landfilled or burned at their “end of life.” For example, for 5 years, TerraCycle, Colgate, and Shoprite have partnered to hold an annual Recycled Playground Challenge, where students across the eastern seaboard have a chance to win a playground made out of  empty toothpaste tubes and floss containers for their school. Engaging customers at the end of a product’s life advances sustainability while creating opportunities for business development. Musical instrument string maker D’Addario connects with their customers through their Recycle and Restring Playback Program that helps move some of the 1.5 million pounds of old guitar and instrument strings from the landfill to a new use. 

Takeback initiatives open up possibilities for brands to connect with customers through the collection and recycling of end-of-use products or packaging. These programs can boost brand loyalty, win over new customers through reputational enhancement, and drive repeat purchases all because consumers who stop by to recycle an old item often stay to shop for other products. Some retailers choose to incentivize in-store recycling in exchange for a discount on a new product, like Target’s car-seat recycling promotion where customers redeemed 43,000 coupons in stores for new car-seats and more than 20,000 online. 

Why Retail?

Why is retail critical for implementing a more circular economy and not cities and towns? One reason why municipalities are ill-equipped to handle many consumer items is that the material composition of consumer goods has exploded over the last couple of decades, while municipal recycling infrastructure has plateaued in the U.S. Materials recovery facilities (MRF) in America can still only handle uncoated paper, aluminum, sometimes glass and rigid plastic containers.  In addition, municipalities are struggling with the sheer volume of recyclables, a situation made worse by China’s recent move to stop accepting much of the recyclable material – a move known as the “Green Fence.”

While ‘circular economy’ may be a newer buzzword, the goal of having a more circular relationship with customers is nothing new. In fact, it’s called ‘return business’ and most business leaders know that it costs far less to retain existing customers than to attract new ones. This is the same thinking behind loyalty programs and customer engagement efforts.

Recycling and take back programs can be a direct and purpose-driven path to customer engagement. Brands like Kiehl’s, Subaru, and Staples have found that foot traffic increases, conversion rates grow, and average retail sales rise after launching in-store takeback programs. A growing list of retailers are getting ahead of their peers by providing this added service. For example, L’Occitane’s takeback program of recycling empties from all cosmetic brands has a 90% redemption rate for coupons handed out to customers, generating significant sales lifts through repeat purchases. Countless other examples exist of the stickiness of these programs, and the retailers leading the way on this critical issue receive direct financial gain as they position themselves as industry front runners by taking action and becoming part of the solution. 

About the Author: Lisa Pellegrino takes great pride and joy in transforming waste streams into supply chains. She got her MBA in Sustainable Systems and works for TerraCycle, a triple bottom line company with the mission to eliminate the idea of waste. Lisa leads business development for the Zero Waste platform, a turnkey solution for recycling any hard-to-recycle product or packaging.

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It's no longer gossip, EPA has really released the final RCRA Pharmaceutical Waste rule (affectionately known as the "Pharm Rule"). The pre-publication copy can be found here. A few highlights that are relevant for retail are listed below.


As a quick reminder, this rule sets standards for the handling of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. This rule applies to healthcare facilities and reverse distributors that "generate and manage hazardous waste pharmaceuticals" and not to pharmaceutical manufacturers. The term "healthcare facility" is fairly broad and in addition to treatment facilities it includes "any person that is lawfully authorized to … distribute, sell, or dispense pharmaceuticals, including over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, homeopathic drugs, or prescription pharmaceuticals." As a result, health clinics and retailers of pharmaceuticals are affected by the rule.


EPA did not go forward with its proposal to classify all pharmaceuticals sent by a healthcare facility (the definition of which includes many retail facilities) to a reverse distributor as wastes starting at the healthcare facility. While EPA did finalize this approach for prescription pharmaceuticals, it reaffirmed that non-prescription pharmaceuticals and other retail items managed by a reverse logistics center are not wastes at a retail store if they have a reasonable expectation of being legitimately used/reused or reclaimed.


The new requirements are in 40 CFR Part 266, Subpart P – Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals and Amendment to the P075 Listing for Nicotine.


EPA acknowledged common sense by excluding "patches, gums and lozenges that are FDA-approved over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies" from the P075 acutely hazardous listing in the final rule. Importantly, the Agency did not re-classify these items as non-acutely hazardous wastes, but rather excluded them from RCRA regulation entirely.


However, this exclusion from RCRA does not include e-cigarettes, e-liquids, or prescription nicotine replacement therapies.


Close up your drains because EPA finalized the prohibition on sewering hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. While drain disposal of non-hazardous pharmaceuticals are not covered by this ban, EPA discourages this practice. Traces of medicines are turning up in streams and lakes and the impact that drain disposal will have on the ecosystem and human health is still unknown.  


The final rule will be published in the Federal Register in the coming weeks (could that be delayed because of the partial government shutdown?) and will become effective at the federal level six months after publication. The prohibition on sewering will take effect in all states at that time.


However, the rest of the rule will generally not become effective in the states until they act to adopt the rule (except for states like Iowa and Alaska that do not have their own authorized hazardous waste programs, or states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania that automatically incorporate new federal hazardous waste rules). All authorized states must eventually adopt the rule as EPA is taking the position that Subpart P, as a whole, makes the federal program more stringent than before (even though there are some less stringent elements). However, because the new exclusion for nicotine patches, gums, and lozenges is a less stringent provision, states will not be required to adopt that exclusion.


For useful links on Changes to RCRA, visit the CRC Hot Topics Page. To stay up to date on this and other regulatory changes, sign up for CRC Alerts.

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Turkey 2018.jpgWasted food is costly for your company, the environment and consumers. The 130 plus billion pounds of food thrown out in the U.S. every year is worth over $161 billion and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions (decomposing food in landfills generates methane), as well as negative impacts from farming including pesticides, energy use and water pollution, transportation and refrigeration. Plus, what was once considered solely a sustainability issue is now turning into a compliance issue as jurisdictions are starting to ban organic waste or require composting.

Retailers are key to reducing food waste because they are involved in some aspect in the entire flow of food from producers to retail operations to customers. Many retailers are stepping up to the plate to reduce waste, here are some of the top actions that your company can take to reduce waste.

1. Be Transparent: report on waste and your efforts, and consider setting public waste reduction goals

Corporations often shy away from setting public goals, it's too easy for missed goals to generate negative press. But this has not stopped mega-retailers, Ahold Delhaize, Kroger and Walmart from setting aggressive food reduction targets. Public goals signal a company's commitment and the support of their leadership. It also helps internally to keep attention and resources focused on the issue. Why, even the U.S. has a public food reduction goal-- to reduce food loss and waste by half by 2030 (to align with Target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals).

Did you know that if food waste was a country, it would take third place behind the U.S. and China in contribution to climate change? This means that food reduction (under Scope 3 emission) can help you achieve your greenhouse gas reduction goals, the proverbial two birds with one stone approach. 

2. Join your Peers

Coalitions and organizations can create momentum around an issue, achieve greater results than companies acting alone, and help implement industry-wide solutions. Member companies can also get resources and tools to help them solve challenges and receive positive recognition for their efforts. Groups may set national goals for their industry, ask members to make commitments, provide education, or conduct research and policy development. Examples include ReFed – a stakeholder driven nonprofit that is analyzing food waste to identify the most effective solutions, the Consumer Goods Forum Food Waste Initiative with a commitment to "halving food waste by 2025" and the Champions 12.3 executive coalition focused on "accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3 by 2030."

3. Implement or turbo charge your waste reduction programs

If you don't have a strong program for reducing food waste or you are not sure if your current efforts are working, now is the time to get moving. A good program can not only reduce food waste and greenhouse gases, it can save money and help build a positive reputation. In other words, a good program is a win-win for your company, your customers, and the planet. Now that's triple bottom line thinking!

There are many resources for getting started or optimizing your program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Food Recovery Hierarchy can help guide your thinking. The Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) also has links resources on the CRC Waste Page. It may help to look at your operations through the lens of the circular economy. For more information about building an economy that is "restorative and regenerative" visit the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for information, resources and inspiration.   

Don't forget that your vendors are a valuable resource. They see challenges and solutions across many companies and can be part of a solution.

4. Don't forget your customers

Another bad statistic--U.S. consumers throw out about one pound of food per person per day. As a retailer, you are in a unique position to help your customers reduce this waste and save money. Efforts like improving packaging and food date labeling and education on the issue can help reduce consumer food waste. With consumer's purchasing decisions increasingly influenced by sustainability factors, efforts to help them reduce food waste can improve customer relationships and loyalty. (World Resources Institute, Can Reducing Food Waste Solve the Customer Loyalty Problem?)


The CRC Retail Sustainability Leadership Model can help you design and implement your overall sustainability program. The CRC Waste Page has more information and resources on food waste.

Tiffin Shewmake, Center for Retail Compliance

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​On January 1, 2019, businesses in California – including retailers – that generate at least 4 cubic yards of commercial solid waste will become subject to the state’s mandatory organics recycling program, run by CalRecycle.  This program requires covered businesses to recycle all of their organic waste.  Certain retailers, for example most grocery chains, already are subject to the program as generators of more than 4 cubic yards of organic waste, and many local jurisdictions have already rolled out implementation and enforcement programs.  Nevertheless, as smaller and more types of retailers become subject to the program in January 2019 and as local jurisdictions are forced to expand their programs to incorporate an increased number of regulated businesses, many questions will need to be answered and retailers can expect additional regulatory complexity and scrutiny to the already multi-layered environmental regulatory framework in California.  

Covered Businesses

Organics Container Measurements.pngRetailers that generate more than 4 cubic yards of commercial waste each week will become subject to the program on January 1.  Commercial solid waste includes waste generated by a store, office, or other commercial or public entity source like a school, as well as multifamily dwelling of five or more units, including paper, plastic, metals, and cardboard, among other waste streams.  

Covered Waste

The program requires retailers and other regulated businesses to recycle all of their organic waste, including food waste, green waste, landscaping and pruning waste, and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed with food waste.  

Food waste includes solid, semisolid, and liquid food, such as, fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, bones, poultry, seafood, bread, rice, pasta, and oils; coffee grounds and filters and tea bags; cut flowers and herbs; and any putrescible matter produced from human or animal food production, preparation, and consumption activities. 
Green waste / landscaping waste includes grass clippings, leaves, branches, flower trimmings, hedge trimmings, and weeds. 
Food-soiled paper includes items such as soiled napkins, paper towels, tissues, and formed paper packaging such as egg cartons. Food-soiled paper does not include paper products with plastic coating, e.g., paper cups with polyethylene or other synthetic grease/water resistant coating. It is difficult to tell whether a product with some type of coating is compostable. Some wax materials are compostable. 


Shared Dumpsters

Business that share dumpsters, such as stores located at a strip mall, are more likely than other businesses to face challenges. CalRecycle explains in its Frequently Asked Questions that, if a group of businesses collectively generates more than 4 cubic yards of commercial solid waste, then the group must arrange for organic recycling services for its organic waste. Therefore, even if your business itself does not generate more than 4 cubic yards of commercial waste, if you share a dumpster, you may need to work with your co-tenants and landlord to ensure that all the organic wastes that are collectively generated are recycled.  Therefore, it will take coordinated efforts to ensure that all your waste is being property disposed. 

Local Implementation

Each local jurisdiction (county or city) is responsible for implementing the program through creation of an integrated waste management plan.  Regulated businesses will need to review their local jurisdiction’s adopted ordinance to determine how the organics program will be implemented in their town. This localized implementation is expected to lead to inconsistent interpretations and applicability across retailers’ California stores and will require significant resources and coordination with various jurisdictions to successfully implement a compliance program.  

Notably, while the state’s organics program does not have direct enforcement provisions against regulated businesses, local jurisdictions are authorized to incorporate enforcement provisions into their implementing ordinances.  For example, the City of Hayward has chosen to include fines for failing to recycle organic waste ranging from $500-$750 per violation, whereas the City of Del Mar has chosen voluntary compliance at this time. 

Options for Compliance

While retailers will need to check local programs, CalRecycle has endorsed a broad range of options for compliance with the recycling requirement, including:

Collection services offered by a waste hauler 
Recycle its own organic waste onsite or self-haul for recycling
Subscribe to an organic waste recycling service that may include mixed waste processing that specifically recycles organic waste
Sell or donate its recyclable organic waste
Anaerobic digestion
Animal feed options for food material
Landscaping service providers for green waste and landscape and pruning waste
Salvage companies for nonhazardous wood waste

Angela Levin, Troutman Sanders

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In July 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published major revisions to the federal underground storage tank (UST) regulations under 40 CFR Part 280 to:

  • Remove past deferrals for USTs that provide fuel for emergency power generation;
  • Add requirements to ensure UST system compatibility before storing certain biofuel blends;
  • Add secondary containment requirements for new and replaced tanks and piping;
  • Add periodic operation and maintenance requirements to UST systems; and
  • Add operator training requirements.

UST.jpgThe revised federal rules affect UST owners and operates differently based on the state where the facility is located and whether that state has received state program approval (SPA) under 40 CFR Part 281.  In SPA states, owners and operators must continue to follow their state requirements until the state changes its requirements or until the state's SPA status changes. In non-SPA states, owners and operators must meet the federal requirements according to the schedule described below.

While many of the new federal UST requirements have been in place for several years, additional requirements will become effective on October 13, 2018. The new requirements include:

  • UST facilities must conduct and document walk-through inspections.  Every 30 days, the walk-through inspection must be used to check release detection recordkeeping and the equipment for alarms or unusual operating conditions; check spill prevention equipment for damage and (for double-walled USTs with interstitial monitoring) for leaks in the interstitial area; remove any liquid or debris from the spill prevention equipment; remove obstructions from the fill pipe; and check the fill cap to make sure it is secure.  For USTs that receive infrequent deliveries (i.e., at intervals greater than every 30 days),facilities can opt to inspect the spill prevention equipment, fill pipe, and fill cap prior to each delivery. Delivery records must be maintained to justify these less frequent inspections. Inspection records must be retained for at least one year.
  • UST facilities must also conduct and document an annual walk-through inspection to check containment sumps for damage, leaks into the containment and (if applicable) interstitial areas, and releases to the environment; remove liquid or debris from the containment sumps; and check hand-held release detection equipment (e.g., tank gauge sticks) for operability and serviceability. Inspection records must be retained for at least one year.
  • UST facilities must annually test the electronic and mechanical components of their release detection systems for proper operation in accordance with either the manufacturer's instructions or a code of practice developed by a nationally recognized association or independent testing laboratory. Testing must include control system alarms, system configurations and battery back-ups; probes and sensors; vacuum pumps and pressure gauges; and hand-held electronic sampling equipment associated with groundwater and vapor monitoring. Tests must be documented and records retained for at least three years.
  • UST facilities must ensure their spill prevention equipment and containment sumps used for piping interstitial monitoring are operating properly and will prevent releases to the environment by either: (1) monitoring the integrity of the double-walled equipment at least as frequently as the facility conducts walk-through inspections (i.e., every 30 days); or (2) by vacuum, pressure, or liquid testing the equipment at least once every three years to ensure it is liquid tight.
  • UST facilities must have their overfill prevention equipment inspected for proper operation at least once every three years and within 30 days following repairs to this equipment. At a minimum, the inspection must ensure that the equipment is set to activate at the correct level (based on the type of overfill device) and that it will activate when the regulated substances reach that level. The inspection must be documented, and this record must be maintained for at least three years.
  • All UST systems must have at least one designated Class A operator and one Class B operator; and must designate all individuals who meet the definition of a Class C operator as a Class C operator.

Information on the new federal requirements is available at https://www.epa.gov/ust/revising-underground-storage-tank-regulations-revisions-existing-requirements-and-new.

Melissa Krah, Mabbett & Associates Inc.

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Magnifying Glass.jpg style+Not only must retailers who operate across the U.S. follow federal and state environmental regulations, they must also follow any applicable county-level regulations. Knowing just how difficult it is to identify and track regulations at the county level, we created a pilot county-level regulatory search feature to help you find pertinent environmental regulations.

This pilot search feature helps you identify retail-relevant environmental regulations by environmental area (ie., air, water, waste), store department (ie., grocery, pharmacy), county, or any combination of the three. 

We’ve started with 10 counties across 6 states:
California: Alameda, Kern, Los Angeles, Yolo;
Connecticut: Fairfield, Hartford;
Maryland: Montgomery;
Minnesota: Hennepin, Minneapolis;
New York: Kings;
Washington: King.

Try the county search today and let us know what you think! The success and potential expansion of this pilot depends on your feedback.

Center for Retail Compliance
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​This fourth article on the dimensions of The Compliance Leadership Model (CLM) is focused on the processes and tools that underpin an effective compliance program.  

Today we are looking at the dimensions related to Compliance Support Systems.

Compliance Support Systems—training, communication, documentation and emergency response— are elements that are needed for a fully functioning compliance program. For some, this means elements that are closely tied to legal requirements. For others, these areas can help them go beyond compliance to build systems that help reduce the potential for environmental harm and improve the organization’s sustainability.

Dimension 14 |Awareness, competence, and training
Because facility staff are the ones who implement compliance programs, training is a foundation for maintaining compliance. Related to training, is the competence and skills needed for positions with environmental compliance responsibilities. Companies with a focus on environmental performance, not just compliance, tend to require a higher level of environmental expertise and reward staff for good environmental performance.

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Dimension 15 | Internal Communication Mechanisms
Internal communications keep staff informed about the company’s compliance program and legal requirements. Communication can be expanded to share information on compliance and environmental performance as well as best practices to give employees a greater ability to optimize operations. It is also important that companies provide staff with an avenue for getting guidance on compliance and for reporting issues. 

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Dimension 16 | External Communication
In addition to staying in compliance by following regulatory reporting requirements, external communications can be used to build brand value among stakeholders and prevent reoccurrences of noncompliance through public accountability.

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Dimension 17 | Documents and Records
While not exciting, documenting compliance obligations and implementing strong control systems is important for a successful compliance program. 

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Dimension 18 | Emergency Response
Emergency response strategies depend in large part on the potential risks that an organization faces. Some companies choose to implement a centralized strategy and integrate policies for environmental emergencies with broader emergency management systems. Companies can also implement procedures that go beyond compliance to avoid or minimize the potential for environmental harm.

CLM Screenshot 11.png 

Next, we will look at Continual Improvement.

Tiffin Shewmake, Center for Retail Compliance

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​Find out in a free webinar May 9th from 1-2:30 pm EST.

Retailers – it is very likely that you are selling more electronic gadgets than ever and as a result have an increasing amount of scrap or used electronics from damaged and unsalable items or returns. It’s no wonder, every year, Americans generate over 3 million tons of used electronics, of which less than 50 percent is reused or recycled. The volume of used electronics creates an opportunity for forward-thinking retailers to be part of the solution to reclaim valuable components from used electronics and meet their environmental stewardship goals while keeping potentially hazardous components out of landfills. Many states ban certain waste electronics from landfills creating more pressure to find acceptable solutions for this waste stream (visit the CRC’s state matrix on e-waste regulations for more information on state regulations).  

In 2012, to promote the responsible reuse and recycling of used electronics and sustainable electronics, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), launched the SMM Electronics Challenge. The Challenge asks electronics manufacturers, brand owners and retailers to strive to send 100% of the used electronics they collect to third-party certified electronics refurbishers and recyclers. Using certified recyclers that follow established environmental, health, safety and data destruction practices is important for ensuring that used electronics are properly handled. The Challenge also encourages more sustainable electronics products to enter the market. 

The challenge goals include:

Ensure responsible recycling by using third-party certified recyclers;
Increase access to quality reusable and refurbished electronic equipment;
Increase transparency and accountability through public posting of electronics collection and recycling data;
Conserve valuable resources and energy required to produce new electronics; and
Recognize innovations that use design practices that reduce the environmental and health impacts of products.  

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The Challenge offers participants awards in two categories—Tier and Champion. Tier Awards in Gold, Silver and Bronze are issued in recognition of meeting the Challenge’s requirements surrounding take-back and responsible recycling of used electronics. Champion awards are given to recognize innovations in manufacturing, planning, and electronics sustainability.

To learn more, visit the SMM Electronics Challenge website at: https://www.epa.gov/smm-electronics

Or join EPA’s webinar on May 9th on SMM Electronics Challenge: What’s in it for you? Click here to find out!

Tiffin Shewmake, Center for Retail Compliance

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​This is the third article on the dimensions of the Compliance Leadership Model (CLM). The previous two covered the elements that underpin an effective compliance program such as processes for understanding legal requirements, defining the scope of the program and getting support from top management. This article focuses on the compliance programs for specific regulatory areas or as you may think of it – where the rubber meets the road.

Today we are looking at the third dimension, Compliance Operations.

Operations are where compliance requirements are implemented and where non-compliance can occur. This is an area where companies can use analysis to reveal potential risks and find opportunities to reduce this risk and improve compliance performance. It is also where companies can move beyond compliance to improve environmental performance and show leadership in more sustainable operations.

The key to an optimal program is to match the dimension level with the company's operations, risks, goals and culture. The process of deciding which programs are best implemented at the Essential Level and when they should be at the Structured or even Proactive Level, helps companies identify risk and use their resources where they and the environment will get the most benefit and best results.

Sub-dimension 6 | Store and facility operations

Written Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) help companies maintain compliance, minimize risk, and promote consistency over different facilities and over time. All organizations should have some written SOPs to explain what needs to be done to stay in compliance. Across the program levels, SOPs become more comprehensive and detailed. SOPs at the Essential and Structured levels focus on compliance, while at the Optimized and Proactive levels, they are also used to prevent environmental harm and encourage more sustainable thinking.

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Sub-dimensions 7-13 | Individual Compliance Programs

The next 7 sub-dimensions cover specific regulatory programs that apply in retailer. The program areas are:

7 -  Waste Management 11 - Air
8 -  Hazardous Materials Transportation12 - Emergency Planning
9 -  Storage Tanks13 - Product Compliance & Toxics

10 - Water


These program levels follow a progression related to how the company structures their program around areas such as corporate guidance, data and risk analysis, improving environmental performance and incorporating sustainability. At the Essential Level, facilities have the primary responsibility for identifying and complying with regulations, overseeing contractors and generally managing the program. For many retailers, this may be the optimum approach for some or all of their compliance programs. For example, a company with only a few facilities with drinking water wells probably does not need a comprehensive drinking water program across the entire company. Remember, this does not mean that top management in these companies is not involved or responsible, just that more of the program responsibilities are at the facility level.

Other companies may find that moving to the Structured Level makes sense, especially for areas such as waste management that applies to all facilities or for areas with higher risk such as tank management. At this level, the corporation provides guidance and training to all facilities. The focus is on compliance with regulations, and companies generally do not consider environmental impacts.  Depending on the level of risk and complexity of the area, this may be the most appropriate approach.

Companies at the Optimized Level start to look at how to reduce regulatory risk and compliance obligations. They analyze data to identify activities or situations that may lead to non-compliance, to promote continuous improvement of performance, and, where possible, to reduce or eliminate obligations. Companies at this level also start considering environmental impacts. For example, a company may decide to replace or upgrade refrigeration beyond basic compliance requirements in order to achieve environmental benefits such as energy savings or less environmentally harmful refrigerants.  

Companies at the Proactive Level are looking to go beyond compliance to get positive environmental and company benefits from their compliance programs. They may set ambitious goals for zero waste facilities, no stormwater runoff or programs to reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals in their products. In some cases, these goals can reduce or even eliminate compliance obligations, while other goals may fulfill a corporate strategy of showing leadership in a particular area. Characteristics of this level include taking a proactive view of environmental performance, one that goes beyond compliance and looks along the entire value chain.

Next month we will look at Compliance Support Systems.

Tiffin Shewmake, Center for Retail Compliance

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​This is the second article on The Compliance Leadership Model (CLM) dimensions. The CLM is a framework designed to help retailers optimize their environmental compliance management and performance. Previous articles introduced the CLM and the first dimension Context of Compliance.

Today we are looking at the second dimension-- Leadership and Planning.

Leadership and planning are essential in creating and maintaining an effective compliance program. Strong leadership encourages the long-term commitment and continuous improvement that drive superior performance. This dimension shows aspects of organizational leadership and compliance planning for different program levels. There is no one right or correct level, every company is different with different compliance risks and obligations. What is important, is that companies identify the level that is best for them.

Sub-Dimension 4 |Top management leadership and commitment

Support from top management is a requirement for any compliance program. It is not an exaggeration to say that this dimension is perhaps the most important and the most predictive of success. Management sets the organizational culture, is best positioned to communicate the importance of compliance, and has the authority to allocate resources. At the basic level, management needs to be knowledgeable and supportive of compliance programs. At the other levels, greater management engagement helps take programs beyond the minimum bar of compliance to find ways to reduce risk and environmental impacts, and to find value in the compliance program.

The other critical element of this dimension is the organization’s environmental compliance policy. Organizations at the essential level will have a general compliance policy. Moving across the matrix, policies become more specific and include references to environmental compliance and commitments to continuous improvement and environmental performance. 

CLM Screenshot 4.png

Sub-Dimension 5 |Planning, objective and target setting

Setting targets is a core feature of an environmental compliance program. Targets communicate what the organization thinks is important, creates accountability and provides a way for staff to evaluate their work. Basic programs generally limit their focus to compliance goals. Programs across the model increasingly incorporate environmental performance and continuous improvement into their targets as well as looking for goals that will help them derive value from the program.   

The second part of this dimension is communication. Across the matrix, communication increasingly broadens to include more staff internally and external reporting of goals.

CLM Screenshot 5.png

Next month we will look at Compliance Operations.

Tiffin Shewmake, Center for Retail Compliance

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Find out using EPA's Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing

Customer Checking Label.jpg

While there is significant consumer demand for environmentally preferable products and services, the exact definition of what constitutes environmental preferability is not always clear. This can make it hard for retailers to identify green products. One solution is to look for products with some type of environmental standard or ecolabel. Easier said than done. There are hundreds of private sector standards and ecolabels claiming to validate environmental and human health benefits of products and services and the credibility and effectiveness of these standards and ecolabels varies widely.

Fortunately, the EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program has just launched a new tool, EPA's Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for federal purchasers that can also help retailers make sense of these labels and certifications.

EPA has three ecolabels. The ENERGY STAR and Watersense labels provide information on energy and water efficient products. The SaferChoice ecolabel identifies products that contain safer chemicals. In addition to these labels, the EPP Program Recommendations cover 21 product categories and 40 private sector standards, ecolabels, and certifications. Many key purchase categories are addressed, such as cleaning products, building/construction materials, and electronics.

The federal government is using these Recommendations for its procurement decisions, to bring clarity to the market, promote environmentally sustainable products, realize lifecycle cost savings, and increase U.S. industry competitiveness. Retailers can maximize these benefits – and meet growing customer expectations - by sending a consistent message in support of credible and effective sustainability standards and ecolabels. 

Tiffin Shewmake, Center for Retail Compliance 

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CLM Levels

The Compliance Leadership Model (CLM) framework helps retailers optimize their environmental management programs. The six CLM dimensions define a comprehensive environmental compliance program. For each dimension, there are 4 levels with the first “Essential” level including the elements of a basic compliance program. Across the levels, programs are increasingly more integrated, include more analysis for optimization and risk reduction, and a greater focus on environmental impacts and sustainability. The optimum level for a retailer depends on the company’s operations, regulatory obligations and risk, and corporate culture. The CLM is described in more detail in a previous article.

Over the next few months, I am going to discuss the CLM dimensions and the difference in the levels for each dimension.

CLM Dimensions

Today we are looking at the first dimension: The Context of Compliance.

This dimension includes some of the basic elements needed for any successful compliance program such as an understanding of the legal requirements that apply to the company, an understanding of key stakeholders, identifying who in the organization is responsible for compliance and defining the scope of the compliance program.

Sub-Dimension 1 | Understand Environmental Impacts and Compliance Requirements

Obviously, a first step to compliance is to understand the legal requirements. However, given the variations in environmental regulations by jurisdiction, complexity around what requirements apply in what situations, and ongoing changes to the rules, understanding, much less tracking, requirements can be challenging. This dimension is about how and what companies track and includes 3 elements:

Understand compliance obligations.
Track changes to compliance obligations.
Understand environmental impacts.

Essential programs generally only consider legal requirements and implement ad hoc programs for tracking and understanding requirements. As programs move across the matrix, they implement more comprehensive programs across the organization to track obligations and broaden their programs to include environmental impacts as well as voluntary obligations such as zero waste or greenhouse gas emission goals. Organizations at the proactive level try to predict requirements and reduce future obligations and environmental impacts.

CLM Dimension 1

Sub-Dimension 2 |Understand Needs and Expectations of Key Stakeholders

Understanding and engaging stakeholders helps organizations identify opportunities and risks across their value chain. Good communication with regulators can reduce risks by resolving or avoiding potential issues before they become significant. At the Essential Level, stakeholder engagement tends to be ad hoc and in response to specific issues while organizations at the Proactive level seek out and collaborate with key stakeholders.

CLM Dimension 2

Sub-Dimension 3 |Establish Compliance Responsibility Within the Organization

For all program levels, top management is responsible for compliance programs. For Essential Programs, responsibility is generally delegated to facility-level managers. Moving to the right in the matrix, programs increasingly have dedicated subject matter experts and managers with oversight across the organization. 

The other part of this dimension is for organizations to determine the scope of their compliance program. At the Essential Level, the scope is typically focused at the facility level while Proactive programs expand the scope with the goal of preventing disruption from compliance issues along the value chain.

CLM Dimension 3

In the next article, we will look at Leadership and Planning.

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC

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​EPA's latest Regulatory Agenda contains updates to some items that are directly relevant to retail. Below is a summary of the most pertinent updates:

Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals: The projected date for publication of a Final Rule has been postponed by one month to July 2018. Read notice.

Modernizing Ignitable Liquids Determinations: A proposed rule to update flash point test methods for the determination of characteristically ignitable hazardous waste is still scheduled for publication in August 2018. However, the notice no longer states that the proposal will include provisions to narrow the exclusion for aqueous wastes with less than 24% alcohol. Instead, it now states that "the proposal may be used to take comment on the alcohol exclusion for ignitable aqueous alcohols and whether a revision is necessary to improve existing waste management practices." This is a win for retail, as the number of products retailers would have to manage as "ignitable" increases greatly should the current exclusion be narrowed.  Read notice.

Increasing Recycling: Adding Aerosol Cans to the Universal Waste Regulations: A proposed rule to classify hazardous waste aerosol cans as a "universal waste" is still scheduled to be published in April 2018. Read notice.

Larry Corkey, Manager, Center for Retail Compliance

Thank you to Beveridge & Diamond for highlighting these updates.

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Sust Globe.jpgFor retail’s community of sustainability executives, communication is key. Corporate sustainability programs grow out of customer, shareholder, and employee values, so naturally these groups expect to see regular updates on what the company is up to. With so many companies talking about their programs, a variety of organizations are attempting to streamline external reporting and recognition, to more easily track progress and showcase leadership. For a retail sustainability executive, understanding what’s available can be overwhelming. 

Thankfully, two new resources from the Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) are designed to help. With the Sustainability Reporting Platforms matrix and the Sustainability Recognition Opportunities matrix, the CRC brings together the reporting and recognition opportunities most often used and referenced in the industry into two, easy to navigate tools. The matrices break down each opportunity by retail eligibility, cost to use, prevalence, and submission questions. By exploring these two resources, retailers can easily identify opportunities to report progress externally or gain recognition for their sustainability achievements from authenticating organizations. 

Looking to report material sustainability information to investors in SEC filings? The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) may be the right platform for you. Looking for recognition for your company’s use of renewable energy? The EPA Green Power Partnership Awards can showcase your progress.

Whether your goal is to establish your company as a leader among your peers and industry stakeholders or connect with more customers, these new tools help take the guessing game out of which opportunity is right for your company. Use them in combination with the sustainability leadership model, resource library and internal stakeholder engagement guides for a holistic look at your program.

Erin Hiatt, Director of Energy, Sustainability & Research, RILA

For more information on RILA’s retail sustainability program, please contact Erin Hiatt

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CLM.pngA good environmental compliance program helps protect both the organization and the environment. For the organization, improving compliance reduces the potential of enforcement actions, fines and bad press. For the environment, compliance can reduce the risk of negative impacts as protection is the objective of most environmental regulations. For example, underground storage tank requirements for training, corrosion protection and leak detection systems reduce the likelihood of a major leak. An event that could not only trigger enforcement action but also contamination.

Programs designed for more than just baseline compliance can add additional value to the organization and even save money. For example, to reduce the risk of delayed permits, a retailer may identify the most common compliance requirements for equipment such as emergency generators before purchasing and installing. A program with processes to identify future or likely risks helps an organization make better decisions and reduces risk and potential disruptions. Likewise, a program that incorporates more sustainable thinking into compliance programs has the potential to reduce compliance obligations as well as environmental impacts.

Another benefit of a compliance program is to communicate the organization’s focus on compliance both internally and to external stakeholders. This can help build a culture of compliance as well as provide a positive starting point for working with regulatory agencies. Most inspectors and agencies appreciate organizations that have put thought and effort into building systems to ensure compliance and factor that into their decision making. Compliance programs that include sustainability also help document an organization’s commitment to environmental protection, which can have a positive impact on perceptions about the company.

But…there are challenges. Detailed compliance programs don’t spring out of the store aisles by themselves. Program design and implementation can be time consuming and expensive, and maintenance takes continuing commitment. The good program today can be ineffective in a fairly short time. Getting management attention and resources can be difficult, especially in an industry such as retail with low margins and few obvious immediate environmental hazards. Communicating the value of avoided potential enforcement and costs is not as easy as documenting direct expenses. Also difficult is evaluating program effectiveness and determining if resource levels are right.

The Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) designed the Compliance Leadership Model (CLM) to help retailers meet these challenges and implement more effective environmental compliance programs. The CLM provides a framework for a retail environmental compliance program so that retailers don’t have to start from scratch or worry about knowing all the elements of an effective program. Using the CLM, retailers can benchmark their programs, internally and with their peers, to help answer questions about appropriate program levels and resources. The CLM is also designed to help retailers optimize their programs to reduce risk and look for ways to find value in the program.

The CLM dimensions are built around widely accepted compliance program standards. These include International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001: Environmental Management Systems and ISO 19600: Compliance Management Systems, as well as the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines from the 2016 Guidelines Manual, Chapter 8, Section 2 on “Effective Compliance and Ethics Program.” The first CLM level, Level 1-Essential sets out a minimum compliance program that all organizations should implement. The other levels provides additional elements to help organizations optimize their program to reduce regulatory risks and improve environmental performance. In this way the CLM is somewhat like, but not identical to, the standard maturity model. Unlike a maturity model, not every retailer will need or want to increase the level of their program for every dimension.

At Level 1: Essential, the focus is on compliance with regulations and not optimization or reducing environmental impacts. Depending a company’s regulatory risk, Level 1 may be the appropriate level for many of their operations. For example, an Essential hazardous waste program would be appropriate for a clothing store with only a few items, perhaps perfume and batteries, that might be considered hazardous waste if unsalable.

The subsequent CLM levels: Level 2-Structured, Level 3-Optimized and Level 4-Proactive reflect programs that are increasingly standardized across the organization and the increasing integration of environmental compliance into other compliance programs and eventually into the business strategy of the organization. In addition, organizations start to look at how to optimize their programs to be more efficient and to reduce or even eliminate compliance obligations. For retailers with many products that have the potential to become hazardous waste, this could include data analysis to identify best practices in identifying and handling hazardous waste. A step further would be to look at reducing the volume of hazardous waste—either by reducing items that become waste, for example by reducing breakage or incidence of expired products or work to reduce products that are potentially hazardous waste. The goal moves from just compliance to reducing requirements and making programs more efficient.

In the higher levels, the focus goes beyond compliance to include reducing environmental impacts and ultimately to life cycle approaches. For example, an organization’s storm water program at Level 1- Essential focuses on complying with minimum storm water requirements in specific jurisdictions, i.e., to implement the minimum stormwater controls required for any given area. Organizations at the structured level start to implement common stormwater controls across all of their facilities but still with a focus on compliance. At the Optimized and Proactive levels, organizations look at not just compliance but also how to reduce stormwater impacts and may decide in some areas to go beyond compliance. In practice, this might be to implement green building standards at all sites to minimize or even completely reduce stormwater runoff. At the Proactive level, a company may also work to restore water bodies or wetlands in sensitive areas.

How to use the CLM

Retailers can use the CLM to evaluate and improve their current program and benchmark with other retailers. The initial CLM consists of a benchmarking survey and reports. Retailers can use the survey to conduct a self-assessment and set goals. For example, a company may have a good system for tracking compliance obligations and judge that they are at Level 3: Optimized in this area but realize that they do not have a similar program for understanding environmental impacts. They may decide to set a goal to implement a level 3 program for environmental impacts to stay competitive and increase the likelihood of being prepared for unexpected issues. 

For internal benchmarking, retailers can take the survey for different company areas such as function (stores or distribution centers), regions, or different banners. This can help identify places which may need additional resources or are implementing best practices that could be replicated across the organization.

After taking the survey, Companies will get a benchmarking report that shows their answers and also their peers’ responses. Specific company information is confidential and only shared with the company (i.e., only sent to the individual identified as the main contact on the survey). Benchmarking comparisons are against the average responses for their peer group, generally based on store format. Companies can use the benchmarking to evaluate their goals and decide if their resources are appropriately allocated or if their approach is helping differentiate their brand, especially for companies at or with goals for the Proactive level.

The CLM is designed to work with the CRC’s Retail Environmental Management System (EMS) Guidance. This material, based on ISO 14001, is customized for the retail industry and can used for more in-depth gap analysis of programs and to develop or update an EMS. The material also includes tools and sample documents that can be customized.

The CRC is developing an automated version of the CLM, with personalized company dashboards so that users can see their CLM response, track performance towards goals and view benchmarking results without having to wait for a static report. The system will also provide suggested resources to help companies move from one level to the next. The CRC is also planning to implement this approach for the Retail Sustainability Leadership Model and the Retail Energy Management Leadership Model, enabling users to seamlessly view their performance over these programs. Because the CLM is based on standard compliance program elements, it the future it can be implemented for other compliance areas such as safety.

The CRC is a free resource for the retail industry focused on providing resources and tools to help retailers comply with environmental regulations. Learn more at www.retailcrc.org. Be part of the CRC by participating in the CLM survey, Contacting Larry Corkey at larry.corkey@rila.org for more information. 

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC
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Aerosol Can.jpgWhat do aerosol deodorants, air fresheners and hairstyling products have in common with industrial waste? If you guessed not much, you’re right! The latest news from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates they will issue a proposal in April 2018 to allow aerosol cans to be treated as “universal waste” – a long encouraged move that will distinguish common consumer product aerosol wastes at greater than 100,000 retail establishments from wastes produced by heavy industry. A move that just makes sense.

Products sold in aerosol cans are carried by virtually all retailers, from pharmacies to supermarkets, and general merchandise to convenience and department stores. Given the broad array and number of products, even the small percentage that are deemed unsalable due to damage, expiry or customer return, presents major challenges for a broad cross-section of the retail industry. In fact, aerosol cans represent the single biggest waste stream generated by retailers, frequently accounting for 50% (by weight) or more of all potentially hazardous unsold/returned products. 

Imagine having to go through a series of complex questions to determine how to dispose or recycle a can of air freshener. Would you be more or less likely to recycle that product knowing there are potentially heavy fines for an improperly classified product? As a result, some retailers may over-classify their unsold/returned aerosol cans as hazardous wastes. Being able to classify aerosol wastes as “universal wastes,” will reduce the complexities of properly handling aerosols under the current hazardous waste regulations, and facilitate the diversion of aerosol cans from landfills into environmentally sound recycling systems. 

Although EPA will not begin the formal government process to classify aerosol waste as “universal waste” until 2018, EPA’s recent announcement is encouraging and will help retailers continue to increase their recycling — benefiting both consumers and the environment.

For more information on environmental compliance in retail, sign up for CRC Alerts.

Andrew Sousa, Assistant Director, CRC
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Sust Shopping Cart.jpgSustainability applies to just about every facet of retail. For this article, I looked at direct impacts to the environment as well as costs and risks to the retailer from products and operations. Your focus and operations may differ but all of these areas are likely to be important in one way or another to your company.

# 1 Natural Resources in the Supply Chain

Products are the essence of retail so it's no surprise that natural resources top the retail sustainability list. The two main aspects that affect retail are the environmental impact of using raw materials and the risk of supply chain disruption. All natural resource use has some negative environmental impact and increasingly, a public that cares about minimizing it. Palm oil is one example as concerns over deforestation have pushed retailers to find more sustainable sources. A measure of these concerns is the proliferation of product certifications around sustainable attributes. 

The other side of this issue is the potential of supply chain disruption from natural resource constraints. The impact of climate change on agriculture is a potential threat, for example, decreases in cocoa and coffee production are predicted. Other concerns include unsustainable harvesting, such as the many fish stocks that are at or over sustainable harvest limits and increasing water scarcity.  

Understanding and responding to these issues is critical to meeting the challenge of operating more sustainably, reducing business risks and meeting consumer demands. The CRC page on Materiality and Risk Identification has more information on how to identify your risks and opportunities.

# 2 Environmental Impacts of Products

There are environmental impacts all along a product's life – natural resource extraction, water and energy used in production, pollution, transportation, use of the product and finally disposal. Some issues are unexpected, like aquatic pollution from microbeads that resulted in a microbead ban. Others are expected but can be controlled or, in some cases, eliminated, for example biodegradable packaging to eliminate plastic in the environment. There are also regulatory requirements designed to reduce negative impacts from product use such as emissions criteria for engines or sales restrictions, for example, on VOC levels in products.

Environmental aspects can also be positive, such as more energy or water efficient products. Increasingly, especially in construction, the Life Cycle Assessment of a product, an analysis that captures the environmental footprint and allows comparison of products, is important.

The way retailers address the environmental impact of products has a potential for positive results or major headaches. The CRC Sustainability Leadership Model helps retailers design programs to improve environmental performance and the Tools Page features a matrix of VOC limits by state.

# 3 Energy and Greenhouse Gases

Energy has huge environmental impacts, especially emissions of greenhouse gases and hazardous air pollutants from fossil fuel use. Energy efficiency and renewable energy can significantly reduce these impacts and also help retailers save money. An example is how more efficient lighting reduces emissions and saves money on energy while also reducing maintenance costs and waste. The retail industry is a leader in renewables; major retailers top the list of solar megawatts installed. Renewables are cleaner, cost competitive with conventional energy, provides companies with fixed energy costs and appeal to consumers looking for greener companies.

Transportation is another area where reducing energy use can save money. More efficient or alternative fuel vehicles, better management systems, planning and other approaches can reduce cost and environmental impacts. Visit the CRC Sustainability in Retail Logistics & Transportation page for more information.

Refrigerants can be potent greenhouse gases and also deplete the earth's protective ozone layer. To reduce this impact, the Clean Air Act covers refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. The CRC Refrigerant Fact Sheet has more information on these regulations.

The Retail Energy Leadership Model provide retailers with a roadmap to optimizing their energy programs and the Retail Operations page has information on financing energy projects. 

# 4 Chemicals and Toxics

Many products contain chemicals. While most are not harmful, some have the potential to harm people or the environment. Many retailers are working to take these chemicals out of their products and supply chain. This can be a challenge; retailers have to work with manufacturers to find alternatives that are safer but don't affect cost and performance. Consumers want these safer products and retailers that can deliver have an advantage. Like natural resource sustainability, there are product certifications for safer products such as the Environmental Protection Agency's Safer Choice or the EWG Verified labels. The CRC Chemicals and Toxics in Retail and its Supply Chain page has more information.

There are also regulations, some at the state level, that ban or require labeling for specific substances. California's Prop65 has labeling requirements for over 800 substances and some states have bans that apply to specific uses such as in children's toys. The CRC Product Compliance and Toxics page has more information on regulations.

# 5 Waste

Waste is a problem on many levels because by definition it's, well, waste. Wasted money for products that can't be sold and for disposal costs, wasted resources when material is thrown away, and wasted benefits when items are not recycled. Waste has significant environmental impacts – landfills generate methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas, plus the environmental impacts from creating a material that is now thrown way. However, waste management is an exciting area as more facilities move towards the zero waste concept, and develop innovative approaches to reducing and reusing waste.

Many communities are implementing regulations to reduce waste and encourage recycling. This can include bans on non-reusable bags (the CRC Consumer Bag matrix has state and local regulations); landfill bans on specific items, including food waste; regulations on electronic waste (the CRC e-Waste matrix has state details); and increasingly, extended producer responsibility (EPR) requirements, many of which apply to retailers.

The application of hazardous waste regulations to unsalable consumer products has created a regulatory challenge for retailers. More sustainable approaches--reducing the amount of waste, products that might be considered hazardous, and promoting recycling—can reduce regulatory risk and costs. The CRC Hazardous Waste Page has more on this topic, the CRC Insights page has articles on hazardous waste in retail.

Operating more sustainably is a win-win opportunity for retail, customers and the environment. The Retail Sustainability Leadership Model provide the tools and resources to help retailers develop a sustainability framework improve environmental performance and take advantage of the tremendous opportunities a more strategic approach can provide. 

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC

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​Retailers – here's our list of the top five environmental regulatory areas that either apply to most retailers or carry significant regulatory or environmental risk. If any of these apply to your operations, make sure that you have a good compliance program and understand what is going on at the facility level.

 #1 – Hazardous Waste

Applying laws designed to control waste from industrial facilities to unsalable consumer products in retail is a compliance challenge. Some consumer products such as paints, chemicals, bleach, and cleaners are easily recognized as hazardous while other products such as air fresheners, perfume, cosmetics, and aerosol cans are not so obvious. This complexity, combined with state level regulatory variations and the potential for significant penalties, puts hazardous waste as the number one environmental regulatory issue for most retailers. The CRC can help--the Tools page has two matrices on state variations in hazardous waste regulations, and the CRC Insights features articles with practical tips on managing hazardous waste.

#2 – Refrigeration

Refrigeration is everywhere – from coolers and freezers to HVAC systems, vending machines, and temperature controlled transportation. Keeping cold has significant environmental impacts; many refrigerants are ozone depleting substances (ODS) or have high global warming potential (GWP). Ammonia refrigeration avoids these issues but triggers safety requirements. There has been significant enforcement against retailers for refrigeration management. In addition, be aware that the rules were just revised. For more information, the CRC has a Refrigerant Fact Sheet and an article about the revised regulations.

#3 –Petroleum Storage Tanks

Petroleum storage tanks are primarily an issue for retailers with fueling stations, although tanks are often used with emergency generators. Both underground storage tanks (UST) and aboveground storage tanks (AST) make our list because of the numerous regulatory requirements and the potential for costly cleanups and environmental damage from leaks. States frequently cite facilities for housekeeping violations, such as missing registrations or training, issues that can be avoided with a good compliance program. For more information visit the CRC Storage Tank page and the CRC Spill Reporting matrix.

#4 – Stormwater

Stormwater, especially during construction, triggers many regulatory requirements and has the potential to cause significant environmental damage. Compliance is challenging as construction sites are constantly changing and stormwater regulations are primarily implemented at state and local levels. There are fewer ongoing stormwater requirements after construction. Good housekeeping practices can reduce environmental harm but it's upfront greener design that can significantly reduce environmental impacts. The CRC Water page has information Low Impact Development in addition to compliance and the CRC Stormwater Matrix provides state stormwater construction requirements.

#5 – Solid waste

Even waste that is not considered hazardous under the law can be a compliance headache. Solid waste is usually regulated at the local or sometimes state level, and more and more communities are banning undesirables from their landfills. Many bans are designed to promote the recycling of materials such as paper and cardboard, appliances, tires, wooden pallets and food waste. In addition, retailers must be careful about items such as electronic waste and batteries that may be considered hazardous waste. Visit the CRC Solid Waste Page for more information and the e-waste Matrix for state level e-waste regulations.

With all of these issues, your best defense is a good compliance program. This does not necessarily need to be an elaborate or expensive program, just a good understanding of the issues and systematic approach to ensuing compliance. For more information on designing a compliance program visit the Retail EMS Guidance page. We are working on new compliance tools so sign up for CRC Alerts to stay updated on these tools and new content.

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC

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In November 2016, EPA finalized revisions to refrigerant management requirements under 40 CFR 82 bringing an expanded scope, more stringent leak repair requirements, and further restrictions on the sale of refrigerants. Although provisions likely to have the greatest impact on retailers do not immediately go into effect, retailers should start planning now in order to comply with the new requirements.  For example, some refrigerants currently not regulated will be under the new requirements and leak repair requirements will be more stringent.  

The provisions likely to have the greatest impact on retailers, the revised leak repair requirements, go into effect on January 1, 2019. However, in January 2017 and January 2018, certified technicians, refrigerant distributors and wholesalers, reclaimers, and appliance disposal and recycling facilities will be required to comply with various new requirements. 

Refrigerant Blog.jpg

Expanding Regulated Refrigerants

The most significant change to the refrigerant management requirements extends the regulations for ozone-depleting refrigerants to non-ozone-depleting substitutes through an amendment to the definition of "refrigerant."  Use of the revised definition in the refrigerant management process will be phased in over the next two years.  Starting January 1, 2017 the revised definition will be applied to requirements governing the resale of recovered refrigerants and in January 1, 2019 to leak repair requirements.

This revised definition of refrigerant, as it applies to typical retail operations, includes Class I or Class II ozone-depleting substances and substitutes, except for the following substitutes, which are specifically exempted from regulation:

  • Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water in any application;
  • Ammonia in commercial refrigeration;
  • Propane (R-290) in retail food refrigerators and freezers (stand-alone units only); household refrigerators, freezers, and combination refrigerators and freezers; self-contained room air conditioners for residential and light commercial air-conditioning; heat pumps; and vending machines;
  • Isobutane (R-600a) in retail food refrigerators and freezers (stand-alone units only); household refrigerators, freezers, and combination refrigerators and freezers; and vending machines; and
  • R-441A in retail food refrigerators and freezers (stand-alone units only); household refrigerators, freezers, and combination refrigerators and freezers; self-contained room air conditioners for residential and light commercial air-conditioning; heat pumps; and vending machines.

(Additional exempted substances which are most likely not found in retail include nitrogen in any application and Ethane (R-170) in very low temperature refrigeration equipment.)

The extension of the refrigerant management regulations to non-exempt substitutes was primarily meant to address hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other substitute refrigerants that are potent greenhouse gases (GHG) with global warming potentials much greater than carbon dioxide.

Leak Inspections and Repair

Beginning on January 1, 2019, new requirements for maintenance and leak repair of regulated appliances go into effect.  The new requirements apply only to appliances with a full charge of 50 pounds (lb) or more of refrigerant, which is the same as the current requirements.  However, as of January 1, 2019, the revised definition of refrigerant is in effect for leak repair requirements, meaning these requirements will also apply to appliances using non-exempt substitute refrigerants.

Leak rates.  Leak rates are expressed in terms of the percentage of the appliance's full charge that would be lost over a 12-month period if the current rate of loss were to continue over that entire period.  Leak rates must be calculated every time refrigerant is added to an appliance, and if above the following leak rate thresholds, requirements for repair, retrofit, or retirement are triggered.

Appliance TypeCurrent Leak Rate Threshold Leak Rate Threshold Effective 1/1/2019
Commercial refrigeration35 %20 %
Comfort cooling15 %10 %
All other appliances15 %10 %

Leak inspections.  As of January 1, 2019,  appliances exceeding the leak rate thresholds must be inspected by a certified technician according to the following schedule:

  • Commercial appliances with a full charge of 500 lb or more: once every 3 months;
  • Commercial refrigeration appliances with a full charge of 50 lb or more, but less than 500 lb: once per calendar year; or
  • Comfort cooling appliances: once per calendar year
Such inspections will not be required for appliances that are continuously monitored by an automatic leak detection system, provided the system is audited and calibrated annually.

Chronically leaking appliances.  As of January 1, 2019, appliances that leak more than 125 percent of the full charge in a calendar year must submit a report to the EPA by March 1 of the following year.  The report must describe efforts taken to identify and repair the leak.

Retailers should take care to comply with current regulations and to prepare for the changes as there have been significant settlements against retailers for violations for these regulations.


Helpful Links:

Federal Register: Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Update to the Refrigerant Management Requirements under the Clean Air Act

The EPA'S Updated Refrigerant Management Requirements: What Supermarkets and Property and Facility Managers Need to Know

The EPA'S Updated Refrigerant Management Requirements: What Technicians Need to Know

By Tim Fagan, BLR

BLR is a leading provider of compliance and training solutions in the HR-employment (DOL), compensation, safety (OSHA) and environmental (EPA) areas. To learn more, visit www.blr.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) or the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). This content is obtained from sources believed to be reliable but no guarantees are made by the CRC or RILA as to its accuracy, completeness, or timeliness.

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Last Update: 8/8/2016 9:00:00 PM