Today, every shipment of hazardous waste is tracked by a "manifest" to ensure delivery to a designated recycling, treatment, or disposal facility. The manifest is a multi-copy paper document that is filled out and signed by the generator of the hazardous waste. It is then signed by the transporter to indicate transfer of custody, and is finally signed by the receiving facility upon receipt of the hazardous waste shipment. A copy of the completed manifest must be sent back to the generator to confirm the "cradle to grave" tracking of the hazardous waste. Many states also require that copies be filed with their environmental agencies.
The manifest is an important document to promote safe management of hazardous waste. It is also a very costly paperwork burden, and the collection of useful data from the approximately 500,000 manifests used each year is a daunting task.
The ETC has asked Congress to pass legislation that would allow the U.S. EPA to develop an electronic manifest system. An e-manifest would be much less costly and more efficient, allowing emergency responders to access web-based reports on hazardous waste shipments, while generators would be able to track their shipments in real time. Last year, Senator John Thune (R-SD) introduced a bill, S.107, to do just that. The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator James Inofe (R-OK) with broad bipartisan support, and it has passed the full Senate by unanimous consent. In 2012, the ETC will work with the House of Representatives to gain passage of the bill and bring tracking of hazardous wastes into the 21stCentury.
Watch ETC's 2012 testimony before House committee here.
*Please note ETC's testimony starts at 32:30.