On Saturday, June 30, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) anticipates launching a new national system for tracking hazardous waste shipments electronically. Known as “e-Manifest,” this system is an attempt to modernize and streamline the cradle-to-grave hazardous waste tracking process that has been in place for decades.
e-Manifest is an outcome of the 2012 federal Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act (e-Manifest Act), which extended e-Manifest to all federal and state-regulated wastes requiring manifests. Accordingly, the e-Manifest system will collect manifests for wastes that have not been regulated as hazardous by EPA, but that are regulated as hazardous by a state. However, EPA will not process LDR notices, other non-manifest documents, or export manifests for such state-regulated wastes.
As of June 30, e-Manifest is voluntary (until further EPA action) and allows generators and transporters to create, edit, and sign manifests electronically, as well as to locate and retrieve copies and status information on manifests. Once an e-Manifest is created, the shipment automatically will be assigned a tracking number. Receiving facilities will be able to sign manifests when the waste is received, submit the manifests to EPA, make corrections, and retrieve copies, all electronically. Generators will be able to look up the tracking number and confirm receipt of the shipment. And e-Manifest data will be accessible to the general public for 90 days from the date the shipment was received by the receiving facility.
The new system also involves the following changes to the manifest form:
- Replacement of the 6-copy manifest with a 5-copy form, as it will no longer be necessary to designate copies to the consignment state and the generator state -- only one copy will be submitted to EPA’s e-Manifest system where states will have access to the manifest data
- Instruction that the receiving facility must submit the copy to the e-Manifest system
- Warning to receiving facilities that if they received a waste accompanied by a manifest, they have responsibilities under the e-Manifest Act
- Instruction corresponding to the type of handler associated with each manifest copy
A per-manifest fee will be charged to the receiving facility, and will vary based on the type of manifest (paper or electronic) and the manner of submission (e.g., direct mail, data file upload, image upload). There is no fee for generators or members of the public that would use the system. EPA estimates the following user fees in the first year of system operation:
- $4.00 for an electronic manifest (including hybrid)
- $7.00 for a data file upload of paper manifest data
- $13.00 for the upload of paper manifest image
- $20.00 for submission of a paper manifest form by mail
These fees are widely expected to be passed on to generators.
While EPA strongly encourages use of the e-Manifest once available, under the e-Manifest Act and EPA's implementing regulations, manifest users may continue to use paper manifests after the system launches. Note too that the U.S. Department of Transportation currently requires that a hard copy shipping paper be placed in the cab of the transport vehicle during transportation, so handlers will need to use a paper manifest or print the manifest from the e-Manifest system.
We have been following the EPA listserv on e-Manifesting and there is great confusion among generators, transporters, and receiving facilities on numerous practical questions and glitches in using the system. After a predictable period of confusion and frustration, we expect practical solutions will be developed to deal with common problems.