California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

LEA Advisory #11-Attachment. Information Updated October 2010.

Metallic Discards: Questions and Answers

  1. What is a metallic discard?
    A metallic discard is defined as any large metal article or product or parts thereof, including metal furniture, machinery, major appliances, electronic products, vehicles, and wood burning stoves. This law focuses on items that contain enough metal to be economically feasible to salvage and items that contain special materials that require removal prior to recycling.
  2. What specific provisions took effect on January 1, 1994?
    The following three provisions took effect beginning January 1, 1994:
    1. No solid waste facility shall accept for disposal any major appliance, vehicle, or other metallic discard which contains enough metal to be economically feasible to salvage as determined by the solid waste facility operator (operator).
    2. No person, except landfill operators, shall place a major appliance or other metallic discard in mixed municipal solid waste or dispose of an item in or on land.
    3. Special materials shall be removed from major appliances and vehicles in which they are contained prior to crushing for transport or transferring to a baler or shredder for recycling.
  3. Is there an absolute ban on the disposal of metallic discards in landfills?
    No. However, the intent of the law is to encourage the recycling of metallic discards and to minimize their disposal into solid waste landfills. The law prohibits solid waste facilities from accepting for disposal into a landfill "any major appliance, vehicle or metallic discard which contains enough metal to be economically feasible to salvage as determined by the solid waste facility operator."
  4. Who determines economic feasibility?
    The determination of "economically feasible" to salvage is to be made solely by the solid waste facility operator.
  5. What factors can be considered in determining economic feasibility?
    The operator can assess any and all costs and revenues to determine economic feasibility. This law allows the operator to evaluate any and all applicable costs and any and all sources of income that may be derived from the recovery of a metallic discard and then determine the economic feasibility based on whether that metallic discard contains enough metal to warrant its recovery and diversion from disposal.

    However, if a metallic discard contains special materials that must be removed prior to disposal under existing law, the costs of properly managing these special materials cannot be included in the determination of economic feasibility. For example, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) used as refrigerants must be removed prior to disposal or recycling as specified under Section 608 of the Federal Clean Air Act. In this case, the operator could choose not to accept the item if its value does not offset the costs of properly removing the special materials. Once the item is accepted, the operator must properly remove the special materials. See the answers to questions 8 and 10 for further clarification.

  6. Is an operator required to document the determination of economic feasibility?
    There is no provision within this law that requires solid waste facility operators to document or report the determination of whether or not a metallic discard is economically feasible to salvage.
  7. Do operators have a unique obligation to remove special materials from major appliances and vehicles prior to transport or recycling?
    No. This obligation is placed on anyone who crushes them for transport or transfers them to a baler or shredder. As long as an operator does not perform one of the above activities, then the operator is not obligated to remove any special materials prior to offsite transport to other facilities for further management.
  8. Do operators have any new obligation to identify special materials?
    This law does not create any new obligation for operators to screen or identify hazardous substances in the solid waste stream. Both before and after January 1, 1994, operators of solid waste facilities, including landfills, were obligated to comply with applicable statutes, regulations, and guidelines pertaining to the screening and identification of hazardous wastes. Operators must continue their efforts in classifying their wastes and if hazardous wastes have been identified, it must be removed and properly managed.
  9. What are special materials?
    Special materials are "materials which require special handling." Some special materials are sodium azide canisters in unspent air bags which are determined to be hazardous by federal and state law or regulation, encapsulated polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in major appliances, CFC and HCFC refrigerants in air conditioning/refrigeration units or any other hazardous waste or hazardous material regulated by the Department of Toxic Substances Control.
  10. What special materials must be removed prior to recycling and disposal?
    Special materials that must be removed from major appliances and vehicles prior to crushing for transport or transferring to a baler or shredder for recycling and prior to disposal are as follows:
    • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) used as a refrigerants. Foam which may contain CFCs does not need to be removed at this time.
    • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) known to be contained within motor capacitors and fluorescent light ballasts.
    • Used oils, as defined in Article 13 of Chapter 6.5 of the Health and Safety Code.
    • Sodium azide canisters in unspent automobile air bags.
    • Antifreeze used in coolant systems.
    • Other hazardous wastes regulated by the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

    If you encounter any other material(s) of concern, please contact the local regional office of the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

  11. Does PRC Section 42170(b) preclude the public from placing metallic discards at the curbside with other bulky items for collection on neighborhood cleanup days?
    No. As long as the intent of the program is to process the collected major appliances and other metallic discards for recycling, this activity would not be considered discarded "in mixed municipal solid waste". The public should be informed by the operator of what major appliances and other metallic discard items will be and will not be accepted. In addition, the items should be handled in such a manner so as to protect the appliances from being damaged which might release any contained special materials.
  12. Is a solid waste facility operator required to revise the solid waste facility permit to implement the salvaging of metallic discards?
    No. Pursuant to PRC Section 42170(c), the salvaging of major appliances, vehicles, and other metallic discards at any solid waste facility does not trigger a revision of the solid waste facilities permit. However, under the requirements of 14 CCR Section 17616, the solid waste facility (SWF) operator must file amendments to the Report of Disposal Site Information or the Report of Facility Information to include any operational changes such as salvaging. Salvaging may require a modification of the SWF permit at the discretion of the Local Enforcement Agency (LEA).

    Any activities other than salvaging or in addition to salvaging of metallic discards may require a revision of the SWF permit at the discretion of the LEA.

  13. How do the requirements of the Federal Clean Air Act relate to PRC 42160-42185?
    In addition to the requirements set forth in PRC 42160-42185, any operator who processes or disposes of air conditioning or refrigeration equipment must meet the requirements of Section 608 of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA). Some of these requirements are (1) persons to certify to the federal EPA that they have acquired recycling or recovery equipment which meets the requirements of Section 608 and (2) the final person in the disposal chain is responsible for ensuring that refrigerant is recovered from the equipment before the final disposal of the equipment. For further information concerning federal regulations related to the processing of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, call the Stratospheric Ozone Information Hotline at (800) 296-1996.
  14. Is a license or certification required to process special materials?
    Yes. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) requires all persons servicing, recycling, or disposing of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment certify that they have acquired recovery or recycling equipment that meets the requirements of Section 608 of the federal CAA. Under Section 608 of the CAA, technician certification is not required for individuals removing refrigerant from appliances in the waste stream. For further information concerning federal regulations related to the processing of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, call the Stratospheric Ozone Information Hotline at (800) 296-1996. The California Department of Toxics Substances Control excludes CFCs and HCFCs from regulation as a hazardous waste if reused or recycled.

    In California, the generation of any hazardous wastes requires an identification number. In addition, certain activities may require a hazardous waste facilities permit. Contact the local regional office of the Department of Toxic Substances Control regarding the permitting of those facilities processing hazardous wastes.

  15. Are there any programs that I can use as an example to set up one of my own? (Updated 10/29/10)
    Yes. Some example programs from 1994 with 2010 updates include:

    Grass Valley Recycling, Inc.-(Pilot program not operating in 2010) Recycling center to reclaim and recycle refrigerant and compressor oil from refrigeration equipment disposed at the McCourtney Road Recycling Facility.

    Sonoma County-Program to remove and process refrigerant, lubricating oils, and PCB ballasts and capacitors. The local landfill charges a $20 fee to dispose of refrigerators and similar appliances.

    Utility Programs

  16. Does the State offer any financial assistance for developing programs to process metallic discards?
    Some funding may be available to those qualifying under the conditions of CalRecycle's Market Development Zone Program. Further information regarding this program can be obtained by calling the Markets Research Division at (916) 341-6268.
  17. How is PRC 42160-42185 enforced?
    PRC 42160-42185 provides no new mechanism for enforcement of its provisions; however, the US EPA is enforcing the provisions within section 608 of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) regarding the processing of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. Effective July 1, 1992, Section 608 of the federal CAA prohibits individuals from knowingly venting ozone-depleting compounds, used as refrigerants into the atmosphere.

    The US EPA is performing random inspections, responding to tips, and pursuing potential cases against violators. The U.S. EPA is authorized to assess fines of up to $25,000 per day for any violation of these regulations. The U.S. EPA may pay an award, up to $10,000, to any person who furnishes information or services which lead to a criminal conviction or a judicial or administrative civil penalty assessed as a result of a violation of the CAA.

    The management and disposal of hazardous wastes are regulated by the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

    Local Enforcement Agents (LEA) will continue their inspections of solid waste facilities to enforce state law and local ordinances as they have done in the past.

  18. What information is available on the processing and handling of appliances and other metallic discards?
    A Metallic Discards Task Force assisted CalRecycle staff in developing literature on the proper processing of metallic discards; addressing handling requirements of units that contain special materials; identifying appliances of concern; and addressing issues regarding other special materials. In 1993, CalRecycle also contracted to have the Metallic Discards Management Plan developed.

    The US EPA has developed a webpage on the Safe Disposal of Refrigerated Household Appliances: FAQs which provides information for consumers on environmental concerns, energy consumption of refrigerators/freezers, how to dispose of an appliance, what happens to disposed appliances and additional regulatory information.

    The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) has published a variety of documents on this topic including Recycling Major Home Appliances and Refrigerant Recovery Rules for Major Home Appliances .

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