DOT Proposes Hazardous Materials “Reverse Logistics” Program

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The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on August 11, 2014, proposed a rule that would add a section to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) creating regulatory provisions for the “reverse logistics” of hazardous materials. 79 Fed. Reg. 46748. In the rule, PHMSA proposes a definition for “reverse logistics” for hazardous materials that are intended to be returned to or between a vendor, distributor, manufacturer or other person for the purpose of returning the product for credit, recalling a product, replacement of the product, or similar reasons. The primary aim of the proposal rule is to reduce the regulatory burden that applies to hazardous materials that are returned to retail or wholesale establishments. Under the current HMRs, a product that is a hazardous material that is returned to a retail establishment, for example, would generally be subject to full regulation under the HMRs. DOT proposes to create a new section – 49 CFR Section 173.157 – that would apply specifically to reverse logistics. That new section would establish regulations for the shipment of hazardous material in the reverse logistics supply chain; define training requirements associated with reverse logistics shipments; provide authorized packaging for reverse logistics shipments; and set segregation requirements for reverse logistics shipments. The proposed rule would also amend the so-called “single shipper provision” at 49 CFR section 173.159(e) for shipments of lead acid batteries. The comment period on the proposed rule closes on October 10, 2014.

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