Since the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act, or the “e-Manifest Act,” was enacted in 2012, EPA has been developing and preparing to implement a comprehensive, nationwide electronic manifest system. The e-Manifest system is scheduled to be launched on June 30, 2018. EPA estimates that between four and six million hazardous waste manifests and continuation sheets in paper form are utilized each year to track regulated wastes1. Manifests will be transitioned to electronic files for e-Manifest input beginning with new records for the June volume. The process of migrating to a digital manifest system began in earnest on February 7, 2014, when EPA finalized rules that authorized the following:
- Electronic manifests as the legal equivalent of the paper manifest forms
- Establishment of fees for electronic manifest users
- Allowance of a new 5-copy paper manifest but at a higher fee
- Creation of an Advisory Board and requirement for regular stakeholder meetings
While the e-Manifest system has been undergoing quality assurance testing for functionality and integration over the past year, EPA has already posted training webinars and anticipated FAQs. The final rule establishing user fees was published on January 3, 2018 (Section III provides fee details).
The e-Manifest system is a module of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Information System (RCRAInfo). RCRAInfo is EPA's system used to track information about hazardous waste generation, shipment, treatment, and disposal as provided by regulated entities. Through this interface, hazardous waste shipment tracking and management of manifest information is now more accessible, less labor intensive, and has the potential to be integrated with biennial reports and site identification forms that are also maintained on the platform. The e-Manifest system also provides a portal for public access to hazardous waste shipment information with the exception of shipments involving chemicals of interest as defined by the Department of Homeland Security.
Who is Affected and How?
Implementation of the e-Manifest system will affect every waste management entity, whether in a state authorized for RCRA or not. While the system has obvious implications for process change, e-Manifest is designed to reduce the time spent preparing manifests and to make the tracking of shipments more accurate and efficient. Although EPA has provided options for the continued use of paper manifests, the goal is to phase out paper use over the next five years.
Key Functions of the e-Manifest System:
- Direct data entry into an electronic manifest form
- Copy manifest with same information as template
- Electronic signatures
- Manifest copy retrieval
- Automated notifications of manifest status
- Electronic submittal of final signed copies to EPA
- Ability to search by transporters for intended shipments
During system development, EPA collected feedback from early trials by users and stakeholders, in an effort to create a user-friendly portal that meets user needs in an intuitive manner. The drivers for the transition to an electronic system have been advertised as cost savings (an estimated $66M annually)2, reduction in labor associated with preparing and shipping documentation (up to 700,000 hours annually)3, improved access to shipment data, and enhanced shipment tracking capabilities for users. It should also be noted that EPA envisions enhanced manifest inspection and enforcement capabilities for regulators as well.4
The manifest generated by the e-Manifest system is designed in coordination with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements for hazardous material shipments and manifest retention. However, the requirement for a transporter to maintain a hard copy of the manifest in the cab of the truck has not been changed due to the e-Manifest implementation. To satisfy DOT requirements, a paper copy of the e-manifest must still be maintained for those shipments containing hazardous materials as defined under the Hazardous Materials Regulations.5
Roles and Responsibilities
For generators who initiate the shipment of hazardous wastes, e-Manifest use will initially be optional. The conventional paper manifest process may continue to be used. However, generators are encouraged to ease into the system by using a hybrid manifest approach in which the printed electronic manifest is first signed in paper form and subsequently entered into the e-Manifest system. In this situation, transporters may act as offerors of their customer's shipment and sign the paper manifest on their behalf; or the generator and transporter may both sign the paper manifest. The generator then retains the paper copy as before. The transporter and successive waste management facilities process the shipment tracking information electronically in e-Manifest. Signed manifest copies and any correction notices will then be viewable in the system. All data corrections must be made in e-Manifest. In waste shipment processes involving small quantity generators who ship to large quantity generators under common control, e-Manifest requirements will not be applicable as they are not required to use a RCRA manifest.
Transporters should be prepared to encounter three methods for handling hazardous waste shipment manifests; traditional paper manifests, fully electronic manifests, or a hybrid of the two. If a generator chooses to continue using the paper version, the process of physically signing, carrying, and delivering the paper manifest will continue as it exists currently. If the hybrid approach is used, the transporter and the generator will sign a paper copy printed from the electronic system for retention by the generator. The transporter then continues the manifest process electronically in e-Manifest. Finally, the preferred method is full electronic tracking initiated upon transfer of the shipment from the generator to the initial transporter.
Treatment, Storage, Disposal Facilities (TSDF)
A TSDF also has several options related to the processing of either paper or electronic manifests for shipments that they receive. Paper manifests may be handled in one of three ways:
- Submit the top copy, hand-signed paper manifest to e-Manifest by mail;
- Upload a scanned file of the top copy of the manifest to e-Manifest; or
- Upload a data file and image copy of the paper manifest to e-Manifest.
The paper submittal option will not be available after June 30, 2021. In addition, the TSDF or other receiving facility is responsible for paying the manifest fee.
Payment of Fees
The User Fee Rule6 created a fee structure for payments per manifest by facilities receiving shipments of hazardous waste (designated facilities). Generators and transporters are not required to pay a fee. The estimated fees for manifests submitted during the first year of implementation are as follows:
- $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
There are no fees for data corrections or for public access. The fees collected by EPA are intended to pay for the development, operation, and maintenance costs for the e-Manifest program including regulatory development, software development/updates, and data management. As implementation proceeds and costs become clear, the fee schedule will be evaluated and updated every two years. Facilities will be invoiced monthly for manifest activity in the e-Manifest system.
What Actions Are Required?
|Registration procedures & implementation|
|Federal & State implementation|
|User fees & amendments|
With the final implementation date approaching, EPA is encouraging hazardous waste managers to register for the e-Manifest System. Registration occurs in the RCRAInfo system with options for permission levels of viewer, preparer, site manager, and certifier. A site manager may view, prepare, and sign manifest forms. EPA is recommending that hazardous waste entities have at least two site managers registered for their facilities. Waste-receiving facilities responsible for submitting manifests to EPA using e-Manifest, must have an EPA ID number after June 30, 2018 if they don't already have one. For instance, facilities receiving “state-only regulated” hazardous waste may need to obtain an EPA ID number by submitting the EPA Site Identification Form (EPA Form 8700-12). In addition, on June 30, 2018, facilities receiving manifested shipments must begin submitting manifests to the e-Manifest system and begin paying fees.
The manifest records in e-Manifest are maintained and available indefinitely until a formal retention policy is established. Paper manifest copies, once processed into the e-Manifest system, are discarded.
The references for this article include the information available on EPA's website where updates, webinars, and frequently asked questions are provided. EPA intends to continue updating users and the public on the details of registration procedures, availability of paper manifests, instructions for mailing paper manifests, and any other specific instructions prior to launching e-Manifest on June 30, 2018. Stay tuned to the website at http://www.epa.gov/e-manifest and visit the web locations listed below for additional information.
1 - 79 FR 7518, February 7, 2014.
2 - 83 FR 447, January 3, 2018.
3 - 79 FR 7523, February 7, 2014.
4 - EPA Webinar slides, “Special e-Manifest Double Webinar Day, Session II: General Webinar e-Manifest Demonstration”, January 31, 2018.
5 - 49 CFR 177.817(e).
6 - 83 FR 420, January 3, 2018