Department of Toxic Substances Control Department of Toxic Substances Control

· Major Auto Shredders and Metal Recyclers in California:

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Metal Shredder Residuals (MSR)

Metal Shredders:  Applying today's science and technology to yesterday's decisions

In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, the California Department of Health Services – the predecessor of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) –classified metal shredder residue as non-hazardous waste. This decision was based upon the best science at the time, but much has changed since then: vehicles and appliances and the materials they are made from are different; and technology has changed.  These factors prompted DTSC to revisit decisions made more than 20 years ago.

Our goals in this effort are to:

  • Ensure that waste treatment, disposal practices and management practices at metal shredding facilities are fully protective of public health and the environment; and
  • Have environmental standards and regulatory requirements that can be fairly applied to all metal shredders and effectively enforced.

What is DTSC doing?

We have asked the seven active and primary metal-shredding facilities in California to provide a study plan that provides updated information about the composition and characteristics of metal shredder residue currently being generated. We also:

  • Will require the facilities to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of current chemical treatments;
  • Ordered facilities to explore whether better treatment options are available;
  • Plan to assess the operations of the metal shredders, including processes related to actual shredding, materials separation and waste treatment, to identify risks associated with those processes, and to identify whether control technologies or additional regulatory controls are necessary;
  • Develop a work plan and timeline to implement recommendations by November 2014.

What was the catalyst for revisiting this issue?

When DTSC Director Debbie Raphael was appointed in 2011, she was confronted with decades-old decisions about the management of metal shredder residue. Concerns over the continuing protectiveness and effectiveness of past decisions were raised.

Other considerations: Treated auto shredder residue is one of 11 “alternative daily cover” materials that CalRecycle has approved to be placed on municipal landfills at the end of each operating day. The material helps control fires, odor, blowing litter and scavenging.  More information is available here.