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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.
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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

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.

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

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

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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The Holiday season produces a lot of hot, new items on the shelf. Shoppers are clamoring to get their hands on the newest gadgets or find the best gift.  But, what happens when one of these items gets damaged in the aisles by overenthusiastic shoppers and needs to be disposed of? It's not very merry but many seasonal products may be considered hazardous waste.

EPA's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) provides guidance for the proper management of hazardous waste. Under RCRA, products which are ignitable, corrosive, reactive, toxic, or contain certain listed chemicals are considered hazardous waste. In addition to RCRA's framework, some states define hazardous waste based on other characteristics, such as a broader list of restricted chemicals or harmfulness to aquatic life. It is best to consult the appropriate state, regional, or local regulations for additional requirements. The CRC also has information on state variations in hazardous waste regulations on the State Matrices page.

Surprising seasonal products which may be considered hazardous waste include:

Holiday Gifts:

  • Electronics
    • Batteries may contain toxic chemicals and require important considerations for disposal or recycling.
    • Electronic products, even without batteries, have disposal restrictions in many states. 
  • Beauty Sets
    • Nail polishes and perfumes are often ignitable waste.
    • Cosmetics may contain dyes with restricted chemicals.
    • Body wash, soap, and bubble bath may be harmful to fish and considered hazardous waste in some states.
  • Craft Kits
    • Adhesives may be ignitable waste or state-regulated toxic waste due to listed ingredients or aquatic toxicity.
    • Art supplies may contain pigments which are RCRA or state-regulated.

Holiday Decorations:

  • Holiday lights that contain heavy metals like mercury or lead solder may be considered hazardous waste.
  • Candles that contain ingredients that are considered toxic to fish are more heavily regulated in states like California and Washington.

Cold and Flu Season:

  • Oral analgesics containing the active ingredient phenol are often RCRA hazardous waste
  • Cough medicines containing alcohol may be ignitable waste.
  • Other medicines may be harmful to fish or contain state-restricted chemicals.
  • Household antibacterial cleaners are restricted in some states.

Holiday Baking:

  • Cooking sprays and flavoring extracts are generally ignitable wastes.
  • Whipped topping in aerosol cans may be restricted in some states

New Year's Resolutions:

  • Vitamins may be hazardous under RCRA due to their chromium or selenium content.
  • Vitamins could be hazardous in some states due to listed ingredients, such as copper or zinc.
  • Nutritional supplements may contain state-restricted artificial sweeteners.
  • Smoking cessation products, such as nicotine gum, are RCRA hazardous waste.

So don't forget to properly identify and manage unsalable items in the holiday rush.


Marietje Hauprich, Senior Hazard Review Specialist, UL WERCS

The UL WERCSmart platform connects manufacturers with retailers around the globe to meet critical compliance and data sharing needs.

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. For more information see the Terms of Use.

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The variability of hazardous waste regulations by state is legendary, causing extra work and stress for retailers who operate in multiple states. Or is this overstated, merely a perception driven by a few outliers? Using the Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) Hazardous Waste Variations by State matrix, we set out to see just how much hazardous waste regulations actually vary by state (plus the District of Columbia).

RCRA 4.jpg

The CRC matrix summarizes four elements of hazardous waste regulations: hazardous waste characteristics (e.g., how to tell if a waste exhibits hazardous properties), thresholds for generator categories, requirements for Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQG), and universal waste. While state regulations vary in other important ways, these four elements have a significant impact on how generators must manage hazardous waste. 

Hazardous waste laws are implemented at the state level (with the exception of Alaska and Iowa). State requirements must be at least, but can be more, stringent than the federal rules. So do states go hog wild and use this authority to make major changes or do they generally follow the federal lead?

The reality is that in these four elements, state regulations are more like the federal rules than they differ.


There are exceptions, five states differ from the federal rules in all four elements and another five in three of the four elements.

RCRA 5.jpg

Location matters. None of the six New England states are the same as the federal in all four elements, all differ in the CESQG element and most with respect to universal waste. By contrast, the Mid-Atlantic states tend to toe the federal line. All six are the same as federal in hazardous waste characteristics and thresholds for generator categories, one is the same in all four elements and three only vary in one of the four elements. In the South, the majority of states are the same or only differ in one of the four elements. The Southwest is the most uniform, all differ from the federal requirements in only one of the four elements. The graph below shows the percent of variation by region.

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CESQG requirements is the element of the four with the most variability. Thirty-one states either have some variation in CESQG requirements or don't recognize the federal category at all. In most of the states, the variations are minor and the rules essentially the same as federal. RCRA 6.jpgHowever, in nine states, CESQGs are subject to extensive requirements, typically the same that small quantity generators must follow. Interestingly, all states that start with the letter "M" vary in CESQG requirements, except for Mississippi, while none of the states that start with "N" vary in this area, except for New Hampshire.

For the majority of states, requirements for hazardous waste characteristics and thresholds for generator categories are identical with federal rules. However, eight states have different hazardous waste characteristics. Several build on the federal rules by adding a new characteristic, for example, Michigan added "extreme toxicity," Minnesota "lethality" and both Washington and Rhode Island "extremely hazardous waste." Additional tests for identifying hazardous waste are another variation, several states added non-liquid corrosivity tests and California added toxicity tests, including a test for aquatic toxicity.

The final area is Universal Waste. Here again, the majority of the states, 33, recognize the same categories as the federal rules. The 18 states that differ generally recognize the federal categories but include additional items as universal waste. The most popular additional items are used electronics (8 states), aerosol cans (4 states), and antifreeze (3 states). Other types of universal waste include compressed gas cylinders, oil-based finishes, and paint and paint related waste.

So what did we learn? Generally, state requirements are more like federal requirements than they differ. However, to keep facilities on their toes, in some states the differences are significant.

To avoid having to keep track of different requirements, retailers could operate only in states with identical rules as the federal or avoid certain regions altogether. While attractive to regulatory compliance staff, this is an unlikely solution for a business, leaving multi-state retailers having to deal with state variances. This is where the CRC tools can help. In addition to the matrix, Hazardous Waste Variations by State, the CRC also has a Key Variations in Hazardous Waste Generator Reporting matrix and the CRC State Resource pages have links to state regulatory resources. A good compliance program will help identify and manage regulatory differences. The CRC provides guidance on Environmental Management Systems (EMS) for retail that includes downloadable tools in Excel that can be used for gap analysis or program implementation.

 (This article and these resources are for informational purpose only and should not be construed as legal, financial or other professional advice.)

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC

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​Thanksgiving is known for family, football and food. Despite our best intentions to clean our plates much of this food will go to waste as portions are left uneaten and grocery stores must dispose of unsold fresh food. The EPA estimates that food makes up 21% of the daily waste stream to landfills and incinerators. Reducing this waste has environmental and social benefits, from reducing methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, to increasing food security as formerly wasted food can be distributed to the 48 million Americans who are food insecure. Through good management of supply chains and more efficient waste management, retailers can significantly reduce their food waste. The Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) has resources to help you get started.

Retailers and their suppliers are already leading the way on reducing food waste. In November 2016, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first group of Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions. This companies, including national retailers, have committed to reducing food waste from their US operations 50% by 2030. This initiative compliments efforts already underway through EPA's Food Recovery Challenge and the USDA's Food Waste Challenge.

EPA Food Waste Hierarchy.jpg

There are other resources to help companies reduce food waste. EPA's Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes food waste reduction strategies based on environmental and social impacts and provides guidance and tools for waste reduction. The Food Waste Reduction Alliance has a toolkit that highlights leading practices in each area of the Food Recovery Hierarchy, including how to perform a waste characterization assessment, donation guidelines, and composting tips. There are also ideas for how retailers can influence their suppliers and customers, using their pivotal positon in the supply chain to change production processes and consumer habits.   

As voluntary initiatives expand, so too do regulatory efforts to reduce food waste. Several jurisdictions require mandatory organic food waste recycling.  The latest being California, mandatory composting for some facilities started in April 2016. The CRC's Retail Food Service & Prepared Foods and Other Regulated Waste pages highlight issues and regulations related to food waste in retail. 

Retailers are uniquely placed to effect change in this area and may find operational efficiencies to complement the social and environmental benefits.

Larry Corkey, Center for Retail Compliance

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By Richard Sieg, Regulatory Counsel, Inmar, Inc.

Fretting about regulatory compliance? There are some little-known, readily available exemptions and exceptions that can work in tandem to reduce compliance burdens and significantly boost your sustainability initiatives. (For the sake of simplicity, for the remainder of this article, the term "exemptions" is used to refer to both exemptions and exceptions)


It is easy to forget that in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Congress embraced recycling and reuse of materials as part of the solution to the nation's waste problem.  The objectives of RCRA include protection of health and the environment and conservation of valuable material and energy resources.  EPA's "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" initiative is an extension of these objectives.  Sustainability has become a cornerstone of the retail industry, and in this discussion, you may find opportunities to raise your sustainability program to a higher level while improving your compliance program.

Hazardous waste regulatory requirements significantly impact retailers.  There is a three-tiered hazardous waste regulatory framework:

  • Large quantity generators (LQGs), assume the most rigorous and cumbersome compliance requirements. 
  • Small quantity generators (SQGs) assume less burdensome requirements. 
  • Conditionally-exempt small quantity generators (CESQGs) have the least requirements. 

With this in mind, if a generator finds ways to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated at a retail store, it may be able to significantly reduce that store's regulatory burden.  This article will discuss ways to take advantage of such opportunities allowed in the regulation.

In its hazardous waste regulations, EPA provides exemptions to the definition of solid and hazardous wastes and use of these exemptions is one way to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated at your stores. Through the use of alternative dispositions to ensure consumer products are donated, liquidated, reused and/or recycled, a retailer may reduce the volume of hazardous waste generated at its stores and possibly lessen its compliance burdens. 

Some of these exemptions are not well known, yet can help retailers avoid the significant regulatory burdens associated with hazardous waste requirements.  These exemptions exist to encourage sustainable solutions to the end of life of products.  Recycling prevents waste, conserves valuable materials, and may help to conserve energy resources.  To be clear, this is not a regulatory loophole; legitimate recycling is the right thing to do and comes with some lessening of the burdens of complying with the hazardous waste regulations.

Commercial Chemical Product (CCP) Exemption

One of the lesser-known exemptions is the commercial chemical product (CCP) exemption.  It is important to remember that states are allowed to have more stringent programs and, therefore, some states may have limited or eliminated an exemption available under the federal rules.  It always is critical to know the rules for the jurisdictions within which the products are being managed.  In other words, always know the regulatory requirements for the states you are in.

Products managed under the CCP exemption are exempt from the definition of solid waste and, therefore, are not hazardous wastes under the federal regulations.  To qualify for this exemption, a generator must ensure a product is recycled through a reclamation process. For the CCP exemption, the definition of CCP applies to consumer products generally. RCRA Online 14012. Of course, housekeeping matters and the products should be managed as you would manage any product of value (e.g. not broken or leaking).

The potential significance for retail locations may be substantial as consumer products managed under the exemption are products, not wastes, and do not count against a location's generator status.  In other words, through use of this exemption, a store may reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated to become regulated under significantly less rigorous requirements as an SQG or even an CESQG.

What is Legitimate Recycling?

Satisfies These Criteria

  • Hazardous material: useful contribution to recycling process, product or intermediate
  • Recycling process creates useful product/intermediate
  • Housekeeping matters: manage it like you manage your products
  • Product comparable to other legitimate products/intermediates

EPA's website on Legitimate Hazardous Waste Versus Sham Recycling has more information on guidelines for "legitimate recycling."

The reclamation of nicotine is a perfect example. In 2015, EPA published guidance discussing, in part, a process that reclaims nicotine from consumer products such as e-cigarettes and smoking cessation products. (RCRA Online 14850, 14851).  EPA confirmed a nicotine reclamation process legitimately recycles nicotine-containing products and therefore under the CCP exemption they are not considered solid waste.  Products sent through this process, therefore, are not a waste at the retailer, during transportation or even prior to processing at the recycling facility. 

One significant impact to retailers is EPA's declaration that nicotine products, even those in low concentrations, such as gums, lozenges and patches, are p-listed hazardous wastes.  As a result, a retail location generating only 2.2 pounds of these products as waste in one month is regulated as a large-quantity generator.  Few products have similar or greater hazardous waste compliance impacts on retailers as do these products.

EPA has emphasized that speculative accumulation of consumer products for some potential recycling opportunity can lead to compliance issue.  EPA has made clear that when CCPs are "stored for a long period of time without any foreseeable means of recovering the product, or if no foreseeable market existed for the recovered product, an overseeing regulatory agency might well conclude that they were abandoned [and therefore a solid and/or hazardous waste]." RO 14762

If nicotine is the main driver for a retail store's classification as a large quantity generator, this type of recycling can help reduce costs and risks of liability and contribute to sustainability.  Also, a collateral benefit may accrue - raising your sustainability program to another level.  While nicotine is one example, similar recycling opportunities exist for other consumer products as well.

Reuse Exemption

The reuse exemption is also relevant to the management of consumer products.  Under federal law, a consumer product being used as an ingredient for another product is exempt from the definition of solid waste.  One example currently available is the use of fingernail polish to make hobby paint.  Fingernail polish can be sent for use as an ingredient for hobby paint and therefore never becomes a waste.  Once again, housekeeping matters, and the products should be managed as you would manage any product of value (e.g. not broken or leaking). 

Reclamation Innovation

Innovative companies are continually finding more ways to reclaim consumer products and even find reuse opportunities for some. For example, conditioners and soaps can be used as ingredients for industrial soaps and colognes and other fragrances can be used as an ingredient to make industrial fragrances.  The bottom line is that innovations in the end-of-life stewardship of many consumer products are available as valuable alternatives to the waste stream, and retailers can improve their risk potential and sustainability profile by pursuing these options. Meanwhile, as an industry we should encourage innovation in the marketplace.  Sustainable end-of-life solutions for consumer products fall within retail sector sustainability initiatives, including waste reduction. 

Do not forget that state hazardous waste regulations can be more stringent than the federal program, so it's important to compare the two sets of regulations to ensure compliance across the board.  Recycling companies and reverse distributors are knowledgeable about these issues and are a great resource to help you navigate the state regulations.

Helpful Links:

40 CFR § 261.2  Definition of Solid Waste

U.S. EPA RCRA Online Database

U.S. EPA Definition of Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste Recycling Training Module

U.S. EPA Legitimate Hazardous Waste Recycling Versus Sham Recycling

U.S. EPA Final Rule: 2015 Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) (provides access to compliance tools for documenting "legitimate recycling")

U.S. EPA Are Commercial Chemical Products (CCPs)_Solid Waste When Burned as a Fuel for Energy Recovery?

U.S. EPA How Is a Secondary Material Regulated If It is Recycled by Direct Use or Reuse Without Prior Reclamation?

Anyone who has redeemed a coupon, filled a prescription or returned a product, has touched Inmar. We apply technology and data science to improve outcomes for consumers and those who serve them. As a trusted intermediary for over 35 years, we have unmatched access to billions of consumer and business transactions in real time. Inmar analytics, platforms and services enable engagement with shoppers and patients, optimize supply chain results for retail and CPG companies, and bring regulatory compliance expertise to help those companies better manage risk and sustainability.

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. For more information see the Terms of Use.

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Securing funding for energy projects is a challenge for retail energy managers that is both well-established and much discussed. Over the summer, RILA released a comprehensive External Finance Guide that outlined several different funding mechanisms for retailers to explore when internal capital is hard to come by, including options like green bonds, energy service agreements, tax-increment financing, and more. As a companion resource, RILA teamed up with the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) again to develop a new Internal Finance Guide that similarly presents different options for retailers to secure funding for energy efficiency projects, but this time using internal capital.   

The Internal Finance Guide presents five policies, fund structures, and process changes that can improve energy manager access to internal capital:

1. Internal Carbon Pricing - Establishes a cost to the carbon dioxide emissions or CO2 equivalent generation from company operations. May be set as either a real price to create a fund or as a price signal.

2. Capital Investment Fund - Dedicated budget replenished annually to finance energy projects rather than requiring project by project approval.

3. Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) - Leverages one-time, initial funding to support continuous rounds of projects, in which energy cost savings that accrue replenish the fund.

4. Expedited Approval - Creation of a specific internal process such as integration with finance or updated proposal templates to decrease the time required for review and approval of projects.

5. Cross-Departmental Collaboration - Relationship-building to help other departments understand how they benefit from energy projects and why they may want to leverage their own budgets to fund projects if capital is otherwise unavailable.

The complete Internal Finance Guide explores each mechanism by explaining why a retailer might use it, advantages and disadvantages, and next steps for employing the practices. In addition, a matrix within the guide summarizes the mechanisms by assigning generalized values for each's use within the retail sector, level of funding required, time and effort needed, potential impact of GHG reductions, and other considerations, so retailers can easily analyze the feasibility of each funding option for their business.

For more information or to learn more, contact Erin Hiatt, RILA's senior manager, energy & sustainability or Jonathan Bauer, IMT's program associate, market engagement.

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​The CRC team learned a lot at RILA’s 2016 Retail Sustainability and Environmental Compliance Conference (RSECC). Over three days, industry leaders covered the challenges retailers face in their efforts to comply with environmental regulations and grow more sustainably. 

Below are some takeaways from RSECC that retailers should consider for their long-term sustainability and compliance strategies: 

1. Using data to be more effective is not an option today – it’s a given

Data allows retailers to understand which areas in their business are at high-risk for noncompliance and to identify what is working and what is not. For instance, Walmart is capturing stormwater-related data to identify issues previously hidden by the ineffective paper approach. This saves money and allows them to proactively resolve issues before they turn into big problems. In another example, Valvoline is implementing an environmental management information system at their retail stores which helps them optimize EH&S performance and get big results with a small team. These examples show how data is increasingly critical for success. 

Compliance doesn’t need to be a game of whack-a-mole. Data can be used to better understand compliance, identify effective solutions and implement better programs. That is why the CRC is working on the development of tools to help retailers design more effective programs and use data to evaluate and improve results.

2. Increasing recycling depends on infrastructure and good management

Increasing recycling depends to a large extent on having the infrastructure to store, pick up and process material. Without the infrastructure, it’s impossible to operate sustainably in a cost-effective manner. This is especially true in rural areas. Building infrastructure and identifying markets will be key to more sustainable operations and complying with the increasing number of requirements for recycling rather than disposal. 

While most retailers have some level of recycling program, small issues can cause them to underperform and even fail. Loads of cardboard may be sent to the landfill because of something as simple as incorrectly sized containers or mismatched pickup schedules. One solution is to turn the hauler into an active partner by implementing a resource management contract. And conducting waste audits is never wasteful.

3. Prepare for the final frontier: food waste 

Not very fun fact—40 percent of food in the U.S. is thrown out and food now makes up 21% of municipal solid waste. Food production has a big environmental footprint and once in the landfill, food waste produces methane, which has 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Thus, reducing food waste is the key to long-term sustainability. 

Source reduction and food donation are good first steps to reducing food waste. But retailers—especially grocers—should also keep an eye on compost regulations. In California and Massachusetts, for example, food composting is required for certain facilities. 

There is help. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced a voluntary Food Recovery Challenge that can help retailers prevent and divert wasted food.

These are just a few of the topics and challenges at the forefront for sustainability and compliance managers. The CRC offers additional background information, insights and tools to navigate these challenges.


Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC
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​For retailers, power outage preparation isn’t as easy as just purchasing an emergency generator. 

Retailers first need to understand the regulations that surround emergency generators. And, unfortunately, generator compliance is surprisingly complex. 

Regulatory requirements surround both installation and operation—varying based on the size, type, and location of the generator. Three federal regulations apply to generators plus many state and local requirements. And if your generator comes with a fuel tank, other environmental regulations can apply.
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That’s why The Center for Retail Compliance produced an Emergency Generator Fact Sheet --to help retailers navigate purchases, installations, and maintenance. The fact sheet outlines specific regulations and compliance tips and options retailers need to know, including:

Emergency generator definitions: Definitions differ for environmental regulations and building codes. Understand these definitions today so that, when the time comes, you can communicate with a fire marshal, building inspector or environmental regulatory agency. 

Factors affecting compliance: See how the size, location, and type of generator affect regulatory requirements and permits. For instance, generators with a compression ignition may face additional air regulatory requirements than those with spark ignitions. Use this information to pick out a generator that meets your business’ needs and compliance capabilities. 

Permits and approvals: Get your generator up and running—legally. The fact sheet explains the different types of permit actions that may be required. 

Here at the Center for Retail Compliance we know that keeping up with this never-ending list of standards is challenging for retailers. That’s why we’re committed to providing free industry resources for retailers who want to ensure proper compliance and do their part to protect environment and human health. 

Get the facts about emergency generator compliance. Check out CRC’s fact sheet today so that compliance is the last thing you have to worry about during a power outage. 

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC
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​The retail industry faces many challenges to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. This includes structural issues such a numerous facilities operating in multiple different jurisdictions, with the resulting regulatory variations, facility-level implementation by retail staff lacking in environmental or regulatory expertise, who have many other responsibilities and high staff turnover. In addition, there are always resource constraints around money, time, staffing and management attention.

The Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) is working to identify approaches to compliance that address these industry-wide management challenges. Our goal is to make compliance in the retail sector easier, more consistent and less expensive and help retailers implement more effective programs. Two such initiates are:
The Compliance Leadership Model (CLM), a compliance framework structured to help retailers design effective programs for their specific needs, set goals, and benchmark with the industry.
The Compliance Performance Program, with tools to optimize compliance programs such as:
o Data mining to identify and predict possible non-compliance
o Evaluation of compliance assurance strategies to identify the most and least effective approaches
o Self-certification program to evaluate and track compliance performance 

Participation in these programs can help retails be more effective – in terms of results and by saving money – and demonstrate their commitment to compliance.

Join Our Efforts!

Over the next year, the CRC will be working with a core group of retailers to refine and test these approaches. We are looking for retailers to participate in the development of these exciting programs. If you are interested, please contact Tiffin Shewmake at tiffin.shewmake@retailcrc.org. Also sign up to receive CRC alerts to stay up to date on these programs and other CRC news.

Meet Us in DC!

We will also be at the Retail Sustainability and Environmental Compliance Conference (September 27-30 in Washington D.C.) to discuss these programs in more detail and to get feedback on these and other initiatives. 

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC
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​We have added sustainability resources to the Center for Retail Compliance (CRC). Yes, the CRC is focused on environmental compliance. And yes, today’s sustainability programs are often separate from environmental programs and may never touch compliance programs. However, there are good reasons to add sustainability to the CRC. 


There was no talk of sustainability in the seventies when Congress implemented major environmental legislation. These laws were focused on immediate visible hazards--the infamous burning Cuyahoga River, deadly air pollution, the close call on extinction for the Bald Eagle, and hazardous waste sites like “Valley of the Drums” (pictured). Over time, there was a move towards pollution prevention to avoid creating pollution or at least finding a use for it instead of the “end of pipe” focus of early legislation. 

The term “sustainability,” often associated with international development, centered on preventing damage to natural resources. Early sustainability efforts helped reduce and prevent pollution, often around water, toxics, and waste.  With the increasing evidence of climate change, energy became another critical sustainability area. True to the international development roots, sustainability came to include social and economic aspects á la the triple bottom line. Corporations, as key influencers and with key impacts, were drawn into Corporate Social Responsibility. All this leading to the separation of corporate sustainability programs from traditional environmental functions.

However, there is real value to connecting environmental compliance and sustainability. Environmental management systems (EMS) revolve around not just compliance but also reducing environmental impacts. In many cases, more sustainable approaches can reduce or even eliminate regulatory risk. Reducing waste saves resources but can also reduce the regulatory burden associated with hazardous waste. Voluntary commitments, such as Greenhouse Gas reduction targets become another compliance obligation, which can fit into an existing compliance program. Life cycle thinking has the potential to both improve sustainability and to reduce regulatory issues.

Years ago, many companies happily and mostly legally, sent hazardous waste to municipal landfills and marginal facilities. The 1980 Superfund program (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) made such disposal illegal. It also retroactively made companies responsible for the $15 to $100 million per site clean-up costs from their past disposal, along with everyone else’s through joint and several liability. Just think of the savings for these companies if they had reduced their waste to be more sustainable instead of relying on disposal. 

We hope that retailers will use the CRC sustainability resources to support their sustainability programs and also to find areas for more cost-effective approaches to regulatory issues.

Tiffin Shewmake, Executive Director, CRC
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Is your refrigerant compliance management system sufficient?

Earlier this week, a national grocery store chain agreed to a proposed settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA). According to a recent EPA press release, the chain did not perform the leak repair and recordkeeping required under the CAA for refrigeration equipment in its grocery stores, which resulted in the emission of R-22, an ozone-depleting substance and greenhouse gas used as a coolant in refrigerators. Under the settlement, the chain will pay a $500,000 civil penalty and spend an estimated $2 million to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from refrigeration equipment in their stores.

The settlement is neither the first nor the largest reached by a grocery store chain for alleged violations of the CAA related to refrigeration equipment. These settlements demonstrate the importance of implementing a refrigerant compliance program that ensures compliance with federal regulations, as well as to help protect human health and the environment.

The Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) has resources that retailers can use to help evaluate their compliance programs. The CRCRefrigerant Fact Sheet has more detail on regulatory requirements for refrigerants and the CRC Environmental Management Systems (EMS) Guidance provides information for retail on setting up a compliance program. The EMS tools can also be used to evaluate existing programs.

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For retail environmental compliance professionals, everyday is Earth ​​Day. Even though awards are not given for good compliance programs and marketing staff never tout well-implemented Environmental Management Systems, retailers spend significant resources on environmental compliance. They know that while rivers may no longer be catching fire, compliance with environmental regulations continues to be critical to protecting human health and the environment. Retail compliance professionals work to follow environmental regulations and also to go beyond to reduce the environmental impact of retail operations.

Take waste for example. Retailers have detailed programs to comply with byzantine hazardous waste regulations that were developed for manufacturing but are now applied to retail. This means that common consumer products such as mascara, hand lotion, or nicotine gum may be considered hazardous waste when no longer salable. However, many retailers don't stop at compliance but work to reduce the amount of all types of waste--collaborating with suppliers to reduce packaging and in stores to increase recycling. Some retailers have gone way beyond what is required and accept waste from consumers such as used electronics to ensure proper handling and recycling. Food waste is another example where retailers are working to reduce waste and to find better uses for leftover food such as donations, animal feed, composting and even energy generation.

Retailers must follow many other environmental regulations. Stores with gas stations have to implement detailed plans to prevent spills, refrigeration is regulated to reduce emissions of ozone depleting substances, and stormwater is controlled during construction and after to protect streams and rivers. These types of regulations cover retail operations while others include environmental requirements for products. In many cases, the supplier or manufacturer is responsible for proper labeling but it is the retailer that ensures that the regulations are being followed. Pesticide manufacturers must follow specific labeling requirements but it is retailers who make sure the labels are correct before putting products on the shelf. There are also requirements in some states for labeling or even banning products that contain certain potentially toxic components. Retailers must track what products can be sold in which state and what labels may be required. Here too, like with waste, some retailers are going beyond the basic requirements and working with suppliers to reduce potentially toxic components in products rather than just apply a warning label.

The Center for Retail Compliance (CRC) is helping retailers with their compliance programs by providing retail-specific resources and guidance on environmental regulations. Retailers can use the site to identify the regulations that apply to their operations, find resources and also find guidance on developing compliance programs. The CRC also has hot topics and news on regulatory changes, new requirements, and retail-relevant enforcement and environmental news. Sign up for the CRC Alerts for notifications of news and new content.

For more information, contact CRC executive director, Tiffin Shewmake at tiffin.shewmake@rila.org.

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