WASHINGTON - All eyes are on David Sharma for a decision about whether the federal government will allow the use of post-consumer plastic in barrels used to store and ship hazardous wastes. Sharma is an administrator with the Department of Transportation, which in late April announced a 60-day public comment period on the question. The department has received 13 written responses since then, but Sharma ``has not been briefed regarding them,'' agency spokeswoman Patricia Klinger said July 18.
``It is unclear what direction we're headed in,'' Klinger said. ``This is not something we deal with that often, but it is not something the agency will be taking lightly.''
She was unable to estimate when Sharma will issue a ruling.
A comment typical of those against allowing post-consumer resin came from Gregory Sutherland, manager of Hazmat Pepsico Inc. of Valhalla, N.Y.
``Pepsi uses plastic containers manufactured in many countries of the world. I have seen plastic pails made with recycled post-consumer plastic that have almost no physical strength left due to the shortening of polymer length,'' he said.
``Has it been used once, twice or 30 times? There is no way to tell except if you collect it yourself and know the source.''
The Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Plastic Drum Institute, however, called for ``elimination of the unnecessary restrictions on recycled material.''
``Because DOT's regulations place the responsibility for properly packaging a material on the shipper and ... establish performance criteria as the basis for suitability, the pedigree of the material used to fabricate a container that achieves the required performance level is irrelevant,'' the group said.
Federal rules now allow only scrap, not post-consumer material, in making containers used in interstate transportation of hazardous materials.
Ten-E Packaging Services Inc. of Newport, Minn., has appealed to DOT on behalf of Rehrig Pacific Co. of Dallas to allow as much as 75 percent post-consumer HDPE in 6-and 7-gallon drums.
scrap, not post-consumer material, in making containers used in interstate transportation of hazardous materials.
Ten-E Packaging Services Inc. of Newport, Minn., has appealed to DOT on behalf of Rehrig Pacific Co. of Dallas to allow as much as 75 percent post-consumer HDPE in 6- and 7-gallon drums.