The U.S. Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed revising hazardous materials regulations when it comes to return shipments of certain hazardous materials by motor vehicle

The proposal is for 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 for credit, product recall, replacement, or similar reason, for instance, from a retail or wholesale outlet.

“By creating an exception from existing regulations for certain reverse logistics shipments, this notice of proposed rulemaking offers opportunities for reduced compliance costs among hazmat shippers and carriers, without any decrease in safety,” said PHMSA in the Federal Register notice.

In addition to providing a new reverse logistics exception, the rulemaking also proposes to expand an existing exception for reverse logistics shipments of used automobile batteries that are being shipped from a retail facility to a recycling center.

“This change to the hazardous materials regulations will reduce the burden on the regulated community when consolidating shipments of lead acid batteries for recycling,” the agency said.

In July 2013 PHMSA published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking asking for comments from the public on changes to the regulations that it claim would simplify requirements and reduce the burden on retail outlets. In response to PHMSA efforts in the area of reverse logistics, petitions for rulemaking, and comments submitted for the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, PHMSA said it is proposing the following changes in this latest notice:

  • Define the term “reverse logistics'';
  • Establish regulations for the shipment of hazardous material in the reverse logistics supply chain;
  • Establish clear applicability to the training requirements associated with “reverse logistics” shipments;
  • Provide authorized packaging for reverse logistics shipments;
  • Establish segregation requirements for reverse logistics shipments; and
  • Allow more flexibility for the transportation of lead acid batteries.

The deadline for comments is Oct 10.