PHMSA Update – Reverse Logistics Ruling

A final rule from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), DOT has been adopted into the regulation on March 31, 2016. This ruling is the HM-253 Reverse Logistics ruling (RRR).

PHMSA has adopted regulatory amendments of certain hazardous materials by highway transportation applicable to the reverse logistics shipments. This ruling defines “reverse logistics” and provides provisions for reverse logistics of hazardous materials inside the scope of this ruling.

I used to work in the automotive industry and I can think of many examples that in my time there where parts should’ve been handled as hazardous and were not. An example is that some automotive parts that would be purchased and powered by the vehicle engines would be returned to our stores after being used and contained residual fuel. When we would first receive the automotive part in from our supplier it contained no fuels and therefore was not hazardous. Once returned from the customer after being used now had residue. Which could create the potential for it to be hazardous and therefore pose a risk during transportation back to the supplier or manufacture. This would cause it to now be regulated. Though there are many scenarios, this is just one possibility.

How can this be done? Do the workers at the retail stores have to be trained now? What do this mean for us as shippers?

Well let’s start by defining what this actually means. The definition for reverse logistics in the 49 CFR means the process of offering for transport or transporting by motor vehicle goods from a retail store for return to its manufacturer, supplier, or distribution facility for the purpose of capturing value (e.g., to receive manufacturer’s credit), recall, replacement, recycling, or similar reason. This definition does not include materials that meet the definition of a hazardous waste as defined in this section.

It was noted within the petition for this rule making that reverse logistics shipments of hazardous materials were able to be classified as Other Regulated Material (ORM-D) and could be shipped under the “Consumer Commodity” shipping designation.

The regulations have updated and you will now find references throughout in regard to reverse logistics. More specifically you can find in part 173.157, newly added, the authorization for Reverse logistics – General requirements and exceptions for reverse logistics.

The regulatory text is as follows:

(a) Authorized hazardous materials. Hazardous materials may be offered for transport and transported in highway transportation under this section when they meet the definition of reverse logistics as defined under §171.8 of this subchapter. However, hazardous materials that meet the definition of a hazardous waste as defined in §171.8 of this subchapter are not permitted to be offered for transport or transported under this section. Hazardous materials authorized for transport according to a special permit as defined in §171.8 of this subchapter must be offered for transportation and transported as authorized by the special permit.

(b) When offered for transport or transported by non-private carrier. Hazardous materials must be both authorized for limited quantity provisions as well as explicitly authorized for reverse logistics transportation under their applicable limited quantities section. Except for alternative training provisions authorized under paragraph (e) of this section, all hazardous materials must otherwise meet the requirements for a limited quantity shipment.

(c) When offered for transport or transported by private carrier. Hazardous materials are authorized under paragraph (b) of this section or are subject to the following limitations:

(1) Division 1.4G materials offered for transport and transported in accordance with §173.65 of this subchapter.

(2) When sold in retail facilities; Division 1.4G or 1.4S fireworks, Division 1.4G ammunition, or Division 1.4G or 1.4S flares. Shipments offered for transport or transported under this subparagraph are limited to 30 kg (66 pounds) per package. All explosive materials subject to an approval must meet the terms of the approval, including packaging required by the approval.

(3) Equipment powered by flammable liquids or flammable gases.

(i) Flammable liquid-powered equipment. The fuel tank and fuel lines of equipment powered by an internal combustion engine must be in the closed position, and all fuel tank caps or closures must be securely in place.

(ii) Flammable gas-powered equipment. A combustion engine using flammable gas fuel or other devices using flammable gas fuel (such as camping equipment, lighting devices, and torch kits) must have the flammable gas source disconnected and all shut-off devices in the closed position.

(4) Division 2.1 or 2.2 compressed gases weighing less than 66 pounds and sold as retail products. For the purposes of this section a cylinder or aerosol container may be assumed to meet the definition of a Division 2.1 or 2.2 materials, respectively, even if the exact pressure is unknown.

(5) Materials shipped under this paragraph (c) must also comply with the segregation requirements as required in §177.848.

(6) Shipments made under this section are subject to the incident reporting requirements in §171.15.

(d) Hazard communication. Hazardous materials offered for transportation and transported by private carrier in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section may use the marking “REVERSE LOGISTICS—HIGHWAY TRANSPORT ONLY—UNDER 49 CFR 173.157” as an alternative to the surface limited quantity marking found under §172.315(a). Size marking requirements found in §172.301(a)(1) apply.

(e) Training. (1) Any person preparing a shipment under this section must have clear instructions on preparing the reverse logistics shipment to the supplier, manufacturer, or distributor from the retail store. This includes information to properly classify, package, mark, offer, and transport. These instructions must be provided by the supplier, manufacturer, or distributor to ensure the shipment is correctly prepared for transportation or through training requirements prescribed under part 172 subpart H of this subchapter.

(2) Employers who do not provide training under part 172 subpart H of this subchapter must:

(i) Identify hazardous materials subject to the provisions of this section, verify compliance with the appropriate conditions and limitations, as well as ensure clear instructions from the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor associated with product’s origination or destination;

(ii) Ensure clear instructions provided are known and accessible to the employee at the time they are preparing the shipment; and

(iii) Document that employees are familiar with the requirements of this section as well as the specific return instructions for the products offered under this section. Documentation must be retained while the employee is employed and 60-days thereafter. Alternatively, recordkeeping requirements under part 172 subpart H may be used.

We can definitely see where some business will be able to make use of this regulatory change. Always remember to check the regulations for the most recent changes. Also be sure to make use of our regulatory helpline by calling ICC!

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