[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 40 (Tuesday, March 1, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-4369]

[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: March 1, 1994]


Part III

Environmental Protection Agency


40 CFR Part 238

Degradable Plastic Ring Carriers; Rule

40 CFR Part 238

RIN 2050-AD09


Degradable Plastic Ring Rule

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency, EPA.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: The Environmental Protection Agency is issuing this final rule 
in response to ``Degradable Plastic Ring Carriers'' (Pub. L. 100-556), 
which in general provides that EPA shall require plastic ring carriers 
(for beverage cans) be made of degradable material. The statute 
requires that such ring carriers must be processed from a material 
that, in addition to allowing the ring carrier to perform its intended 
use, degrades quickly and does not pose a greater threat to the 
environment than nondegradable materials.
    The Agency has chosen to require ring carrier processors to test 
their ring carriers using either a lab or an in situ test. The Agency 
has chosen a degradability performance standard for ring carriers, 
rather than specify a particular type of degradable plastic, to allow 
the processors of ring carriers the flexibility to use new technology.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Part 238 is effective on September 1, 1994. The 
incorporation by reference of American Society of Testing and Materials 
standards adopted in this rule is approved by the Director of the 
Federal Register as of September 1, 1994 in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 

ADDRESSES: The public record for this rulemaking (docket number F-92-
DPRF-FFFFF) is located at the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 
(RCRA) Docket Information Center, (5305), U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency Headquarters, 401 M Street, SW., Washington, DC 20460. The 
public docket is located at EPA Headquarters and is available for 
viewing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Federal 
holidays. Appointments may be made by calling (202) 260-9327. Copies 
cost $0.15/page.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general information, contact the 
RCRA/Superfund Hotline, Office of Solid Waste, U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency, 401 M Street SW., Washington, DC 20460, (800) 424-
9346. In the Washington, DC metropolitan area, call (703) 412-9810. For 
information regarding specific aspects of this notice, contact Tracy 
Bone, Office of Solid Waste (5306), USEPA, 401 M Street SW., 
Washington, DC, 20460, telephone (202) 260-5649.


Preamble Outline

I. Authority
II. Background
    A. Mechanisms of Degradation
    B. Factors Affecting Degradation
    C. State Laws
    D. Other Programs and Investigations Concerning Degradable 
III. Summary of the Proposed Rule
IV. Response to Comment
    A. Definition of Terms
    B. Testing Degradation
    C. Measuring Degradation
    D. Time Limit for Degradation
    E. Preemption of State Regulations
V. Implementation and Summary of This Final Rule
VI. Administrative Designation and Regulatory Analysis
    A. Regulatory Impact Analysis
    B. Executive Order 12875
    C. Regulatory Flexibility Act
    D. Paperwork Reduction Act
VII. References

I. Authority

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is promulgating this rule 
under the authority of sections 101, 102, and 103 of Public Law 100-556 
(the ``Act'' or ``Statute''). Although this statute has been codified 
in Subtitle B of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (42 
U.S.C.A. 6914b and 6914b-1), it does not amend RCRA. In section 101 of 
this law, Congress found that: (1) Nondegradable plastic ring carrier 
devices have been found in large quantities in the marine environment; 
(2) fish and other wildlife have become entangled in such ring 
carriers; (3) such ring carriers can remain intact in the marine 
environment for decades, posing a threat to fish and other marine 
wildlife; and (4) sixteen states (as of 1988) had enacted laws 
requiring that ring carriers be made of degradable material in order to 
reduce litter and protect fish and wildlife. (As of 1991, eleven 
additional states have passed laws of this kind.)
    As a result of these findings, Congress required EPA under section 
103 of the Act to promulgate a rule that would require that plastic 
ring carriers (as defined in section 102(1)) be made of ``naturally 
degradable material which, when discarded, decomposes within a period 
established by such regulation.'' 42 U.S.C. 6914b-1. The period to be 
established under the rule for such decomposition or degradation is to 
be ``the shortest period of time consistent with the intended use of 
the item and the physical integrity required for such use.'' Id. 
Section 102(2) of the Act defines ``naturally degradable material'' to 
mean a ``material which, when discarded, will be reduced to 
environmentally benign subunits under the action of normal 
environmental forces, such as, among others, biological decomposition, 
photodegradation, or hydrolysis.'' 42 U.S.C. 6914b(2). EPA, however, 
may not require the use of a degradable ring carrier if it is not 
``feasible'' or if the degradable ring carriers present greater threats 
to the environment than nondegradable ring carriers. 42 U.S.C. 6914b-1.

II. Background

    Concern about the disposal of plastic materials dates back to the 
early 1970s. Degradable plastics were seen by some as a solution for 
the problems of littering, landfill capacity, and wildlife entanglement 
and were developed for agricultural uses (mulch film, seedling pots) as 
well as medical applications (sutures, implants).
    Renewed public concern over solid waste management and resource 
conservation in the past few years has been met by a resurgence of 
corporate and academic research into degradable plastics, and by the 
commercialization of various products designed to degrade. 
Specifically, there has been great interest in finding new degradable 
plastics made from non-petroleum-derived materials.

A. Mechanisms of Degradation

    Plastics are polymers (chemicals made of repeating subunits) most 
often derived from petroleum. There are plastics derived from other 
natural materials that have many of the same properties as petroleum-
derived plastics and have been used to make degradable products. 
Starch, for example, is a naturally-derived plastic that may include 
over 10,000 linked subunits. Lactic acid is used to make surgical 
sutures that degrade within the body after the incision has healed.
    Plastics degrade by a number of different physical and chemical 
processes. In photodegradation, light causes physical changes that 
cause the plastic to become brittle and crumble into small pieces. 
Fragments may range in size from several centimeters in diameter to 
invisible macromolecular particles. All ring carriers in use currently, 
are made from low density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic and degrade in 
this manner.
    Plastics also may be designed to be completely broken down and 
assimilated into the environment. These plastics differ from those that 
undergo photodegradation in that chemical changes occur in the 
structure of polymer molecules, and the ultimate products are different 
from the original plastic. This chemical breakdown and alteration may 
be caused by one of a number of processes, including chemical reactions 
with natural compounds (e.g., dissolution by naturally-occurring acids) 
and biological activity (e.g., biodegradation). Degradable plastics 
also may be designed to combine degradation processes; they may break 
down to smaller fragments due to photodegradation and then rely on 
biodegradation to complete the process.
    The Agency developed this rule based on data available for the 
photodegradable petroleum-based plastic ethylene carbon monoxide (E/
CO), currently used for ring carriers. EPA discussed, in the proposal 
(April 7, 1993, 58 FR 18062), new plastic technology that could be used 
to make ring carriers. EPA does not, however, have specific information 
or data from plastic technology (other than E/CO) that can be used to 
process ring carriers. Despite the lack of information on new 
technology, EPA does not intend to impose any barriers to potential 
ring carrier products.

B. Factors Affecting Degradation

    Two key factors affecting degradation are the time required for 
degradation and the environment in which degradation takes place. Given 
enough time or a harsh enough environment, all materials, including 
plastics not designed to degrade, will degrade. A meaningful definition 
of degradability must include a time limit that is appropriate for the 
planned use of and the ultimate method of disposal for the specific 
degradable product.
    Environmental conditions also play a critical role in controlling 
degradation. The rate of biodegradation is primarily determined by 
temperature, moisture, and the presence of oxygen. For example, 
biodegradation is very slow in municipal solid waste landfills since 
these facilities are generally engineered to exclude water and air. In 
desert environments, the absence of water retards biodegradation. In 
northern climates, temperature is typically the factor that controls 
biodegradation rates. The intensity and wavelengths of light are the 
most important factors in determining the rate of photodegradation. 
Light intensity and wavelength also play roles in some types of 
biodegradation. Public Law 100-556 directs EPA to reduce the threat of 
entanglement of marine fish and wildlife; therefore, EPA requires 
degradation be tested under marine conditions (or equivalent laboratory 

C. State Laws

    In 1977, the State of Vermont enacted the first law banning the use 
of nondegradable ring carriers. By the end of 1991, 27 states had 
passed legislation specifically prohibiting the sale of nondegradable 
ring carriers. State legislation typically is written to prohibit the 
sale of nondegradable ring carriers by retail stores. Most of these 
states indicated that the primary purposes for adopting the legislation 
were to promote litter reduction and to address wildlife entanglement 
concerns. The states that have adopted legislation banning 
nondegradable ring carriers, the dates the legislation took effect, the 
time limit required for degradation under each state law, and allowable 
mechanisms for degradation (as of 1992), are listed in reference 4.

D. Other Programs and Investigations Concerning Degradable Plastics

    Reflecting the significant public and legislative interest in the 
use of degradable plastics, a number of organizations have addressed 
the issues related to degradable plastics in the past few years. These 
organizations include EPA, the U.S. General Accounting Office, the 
Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, the U.S. Food and Drug 
Administration (FDA), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the 
National Institute of Standards and Technology, the American Society 
for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the Department of Defense, and many 
state governments. Except for EPA, ASTM, and the Department of Defense, 
the organizations and states addressing degradable plastics issues 
typically are focusing more on litter and landfill capacity problems 
than on the risk to marine mammals or on degradation in the marine 
    The ASTM D-20 committee (Ref. 1) has developed standards for 
testing degradable plastics under certain environmental conditions 
(including photodegradation and composting). EPA is using two ASTM 
tests (specifically D-5208-91 and D-3826-91) in this rule. These tests 
are recommended by ASTM for testing photodegradable plastic film. ASTM 
is working on a test to simulate and measure degradation under marine 
conditions which could be used to test biodegradable ring carriers 
under lab conditions. Because of statutory deadlines, EPA can not wait 
for ASTM to approve that test; therefore, we have included in this rule 
an in situ test that could be used for biodegradable ring carriers. EPA 
may, at a future date, review this rule to consider the effect of any 
new ASTM marine test.

III. Summary of the Proposed Rule

    On April 7, 1993 (58 FR 18062), EPA issued a proposal in response 
to Public Law 100-556. The Agency proposed a degradability performance 
standard for ring carriers rather than specify a particular type of 
degradable plastic. The proposed performance standard included the same 
three factors in this rule's in situ test: A physical endpoint for 
degradation, a time limit for degradation, and marine environmental 
conditions. In the proposal, EPA referred to these factors as the 
performance standard.
    The proposed performance standard required testing in very specific 
marine conditions that would be more costly than the currently employed 
lab tests. Therefore, the proposal also allowed a processor of 
photodegradable ring carriers to use lab tests to check the degradation 
of the ring carriers as long as the lab tests were equivalent to the 
performance standard.

IV. Response to Comment

    EPA received comments on the proposed rule from eighteen persons or 
groups. This section summarizes and addresses the major comments. A 
discussion of the remaining comments can be found in a background 
document available in the RCRA Docket Information Center. See the 
``ADDRESSES'' section at the beginning of this rule for information on 
getting a copy of the document.

A. Definition of Terms

    In the April 7, 1993 proposed rule, EPA proposed three definitions: 
``5 percent elongation at break'', ``processor'' and ``ring carrier.'' 
EPA received no comments on the definitions for ``processor'', and 
``ring carrier''; therefore, they remain unchanged in the final rule. 
In response to one comment, EPA has changed the definition for 
``elongation at break''. In the proposed rule, EPA defined ``5 percent 
elongation at break'' as `` * * * computed by dividing the length, at 
break, of the material before it is tested by the length of the 
material, at break, after it is stretched  * * * '' The commenter 
pointed out that the proposed definition incorrectly divided the 
original length of the plastic by the length after it has been 
stretched. The definition found in the final rule language corrects 
this error as well as defines the term to more closely resemble the 
ASTM definition.
    EPA received many comments on the proposed rule's usage of terms 
describing degradability such as: Photodegradation, biodegradation, 
naturally-derived plastics, and synthetic plastics. The Agency defined 
and used these terms in the preamble only for the purpose of discussing 
the issues surrounding degradable plastics; EPA does not use any of 
these terms in the final rule language. Therefore, regulatory 
definitions for those terms are not necessary.
    EPA added the word ``plastic'' to the title of the regulation in 
response to one comment. The commentor expressed concern that this rule 
may be construed to apply to cardboard beverage carriers. EPA added 
``plastic'' to the title to clarify the scope of this rule as set by 
Congress in Public Law 100-556. The definitions and requirements of 
today's regulation are not necessarily relevant to degradable plastics 
intended for other end uses.

B. Testing Degradation

    After the formulation of the resin, environmental conditions are 
the most important factors for determining the rate of degradation. For 
example, a photodegradable plastic buried in a landfill will degrade at 
essentially the same rate as the nondegradable formula of that plastic 
because there is no source of light to degrade the plastic. The Statute 
directs the Agency to protect marine wildlife. To achieve this goal, 
the Agency proposed that ring carriers be tested for degradability by 
being exposed, ``for 35 days, during June and July, to marine 
conditions in a location below the latitude 26 degrees North, in 
continental United States waters.'' The Agency proposed that the amount 
of degradation could then be tested and measured, using ASTM D-3826-91, 
to show 5 percent elongation at break. In addition to the in situ test 
described above, the proposal also allowed processors of 
photodegradable ring carriers to use lab tests to check the degradation 
of the ring carriers (rather than a location below latitude 26 degrees 
North) as long as the lab tests were equivalent to the in situ test. In 
the preamble to the proposal EPA stated that, for the purpose of 
testing a photodegradable ring carrier, a lab test following the ASTM 
test D-5208-91 (using cycle A conditions for 250 light hours) is 
equivalent to the in situ test and could be used by ring carrier 
processors to meet the proposed regulation. EPA asked for comment on 
the use of ASTM tests D-5208-91, D-3826-91 and G-26.
    Several commenters felt that the ASTM tests for exposure to UV and 
measurement of elongation at break (ASTM D-5208-91 and D-3826-91, 
respectively) should be required in the rule language rather than 
referred to in the preamble and urged that the in situ test (referred 
to in the proposal as the performance standard) should be deleted. The 
commenters felt that the in situ test was vague and not reproducible. 
The ASTM tests were felt to be easily implemented and reliable.
    In response to these comments, EPA decided to include the ASTM 
tests in the final rule language as an option along with the in situ 
test. EPA decided to not require the ASTM tests alone because of the 
potential negative effects on future use of biodegradables or other new 
technology. A purely biodegradable ring carrier (if one is developed) 
could never pass these tests, which are based on UV absorption and 
photodegradation rather than biodegradation. As a result, the final 
rule provides that the processor of a ring carrier may choose either 
the ASTM lab tests (ASTM D-5208-91 using cycle A conditions for 250 
light hours and ASTM D-3826-91) or the in situ test (i.e., expose the 
ring carrier for 35 days, during June and July, to marine conditions in 
a location below the latitude 26 degrees North, in continental United 
States waters to degrade the ring carrier material and then use D-3826-
91 to test for 5 percent elongation at break).

C. Measuring Degradation

    The rate and extent of degradation typically are assessed by 
measuring changes in the physical properties of a material. For 
degradable plastics, a common method used to quantify the extent of 
degradation is to assess the ``brittleness'' of the material by 
measuring the amount of stress that must be applied before the plastic 
breaks. Brittleness can be measured in many ways, including tensile 
strength and the elongation of the plastic prior to breaking.
    In the proposed rule, the Agency chose ``elongation at break'' to 
measure degradation. There are data that show a close correlation 
between the loss of elasticity (i.e., becomes brittle) and the rate of 
degradation. Brittleness can be used to predict the loss of physical 
integrity of the plastic which correlates to a reduced risk to wildlife 
from entanglement.
    Plastic that has degraded to the point of 5 percent elongation at 
break will stretch only 5 percent of its original length before 
crumbling. The LDPE resin used to make ring carriers stretches readily. 
Ring carriers made from LDPE normally can be stretched to more than 
several hundred percent of their original length before breaking. Once 
the plastic material has been exposed to degrading factors, the 
material becomes more brittle and no longer can stretch very much 
before the plastic breaks. At approximately one hundred percent 
elongation at break, ring carriers lose their ability to function and 
the cans fall out of the carriers (Ref. 2).
    ``Elongation at break'' is accepted by many in the scientific 
community as an appropriate method for measuring brittleness, and 
therefore, degradation of degradable plastics. However, some commenters 
interested in developing new ring carrier technology (for example, a 
biodegradable plastic ring carrier) expressed concern that elongation 
at break may not be appropriate for the new technology. Two commenters 
suggested the use of respirometric tests (using the evolution of carbon 
dioxide as a measure of biodegradation) for measuring degradation of 
biodegradable plastics. Respirometric tests are extremely complicated 
to design and run; in order to measure the carbon dioxide evolution, 
the experiment must be run under very controlled laboratory conditions. 
To EPA's knowledge, a respirometric test that reflects the marine 
environment has not been developed. None of these commenters provided 
specific suggestions or data on how EPA can measure degradation of 
materials other than photodegradable plastics. Therefore, EPA has 
decided to leave the measurement of elongation at break in the final 
regulation, but has included the in situ test as an option for any new 
technology that may be developed.

D. Time Limit for Degradation

    The Agency is required by the statute to establish a time limit for 
degradation that is ``the shortest period of time consistent with the 
intended use of the item and the physical integrity required for such 
use.'' Although it would be ideal to set a time limit that is not 
expected to pose any risk to marine wildlife, it is likely that some 
risk to marine wildlife will remain because it is not technically 
possible to design a ring carrier that degrades immediately upon 
disposal in a marine environment, but also is strong enough for its 
intended use (holding beverages).
    The Agency investigated whether or not the material currently being 
used to make ring carriers, E/CO, degrades under marine conditions. EPA 
requested, but did not receive, any information to suggest that a 
faster time than measured in the EPA study (Ref. 3) could be achieved 
by E/CO or any other plastic product (that can also function as a ring 
carrier). E/CO clearly degrades when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, 
the Agency has chosen a time limit for degradation that is based on the 
best performance observed in actual testing of the E/CO ring carriers 
currently in use. In a study (Ref. 3) performed by Research Triangle 
Institute for EPA, it took 35 days for E/CO ring carriers to reach 5 
percent elongation at break in the marine environment. The testing was 
done during the months of June and July, off the coast of Miami, 
Florida. The time degradable ring carriers require to degrade is a 
fraction of the time nondegradable ring carriers were estimated to 
remain intact; therefore, the risk to marine species from degradable 
ring carriers will be much less than the risk posed by nondegradable 
ring carriers.
    Some commenters felt that E/CO could not meet the requirement 
within the proposed time period. However, EPA has data to the contrary 
which is included in the docket to this rule (Ref. 3). Moreover, an E/
CO processor commented that they believed E/CO could meet the proposed 
lab tests.
    Several commenters were concerned that the performance standard 
would inhibit the development of new technology. Commenters also felt 
that EPA should allow a longer timeframe for biodegradable ring 
carriers to degrade than for photodegradables because of their greater 
environmental desirability. EPA disagrees. Although EPA understands the 
environmental advantages of a biodegradable carrier, the Agency 
believes that any biodegradable ring carrier must degrade as quickly as 
E/CO so as to meet the statute's goal of protection of marine fish and 
    Commenters noted that states may misunderstand that the 35 day time 
limit hinges on testing in a warm and sunny environment. They feared 
that states other than Florida might require the 35 day timeframe. EPA 
realizes that a ring carrier that degrades in 35 days in Miami will 
take longer to degrade in other parts of the country. It will also take 
longer for a ring carrier to degrade in Miami during winter than during 
the summer months (seasonal variation of UV is greater than geographic 
    By establishing the in situ test in Sec. 238.30(a), the Agency does 
not intend to require that a ring carrier degrade to 5 percent 
elongation at break in 35 days in coastal waters everywhere in the 
United States. For example, this rule is not requiring a ring carrier 
be processed so that it degrades within 35 days in northern coastal 
waters (e.g., Maine). Such a ring carrier may not be able to be 
marketed nationally because it may degrade too quickly in the south 
during the summer and, therefore, would not be able to perform its 
intended function. Therefore, the Agency wishes to emphasize that the 
in-situ test is 35 days in marine conditions in a location below the 
latitude 26 degrees North, not 35 days in any coastal water in the 
continental United States.

E. Preemption of State Regulations

    Over half of the states have enacted legislation requiring the use 
of degradable ring carriers. State requirements (Ref. 4) vary widely in 
timeframes for degradation, definitions of plastic articles covered, 
testing requirements, and degradation processes. EPA received four 
comments requesting that this rule preempt State regulations concerning 
the degradability of plastic ring carriers. Commenters expressed 
concern that the various state standards could force the processors and 
distributors of ring carriers to use more than one type of ring carrier 
rather than the one ring carrier currently used nationally.
    EPA understands this concern and, in principle, agrees that one 
degradable ring carrier should provide adequate protection for fish and 
wildlife nationwide. However, Congress did not provide authority for 
this rule to preempt state regulation of degradable ring carriers. Nor 
does EPA believe Congress intended this rule to preempt more stringent 
state and local regulations.
    The Agency does not intend to interfere with local, state, or other 
federal programs pertaining to the regulation of degradable plastics.

V. Implementation and Summary of This Final Rule

    In summary, today's Final Rule requires that manufacturers and 
importers of plastic ring carriers test their ring carriers to ensure 
that they degrade. The processor of a ring carrier may choose either 
the ASTM lab tests (ASTM D-5208-91, using cycle A conditions for 250 
light hours, and D-3826-91) or the in situ test (expose for 35 days, 
during June and July, to marine conditions in a location below the 
latitude 26 degrees North, in continental United States waters and 
then, using D-3826-91, test for 5 percent elongation at break).
    This rule applies to both processors in the United States and also 
to any person in the United States importing ring carriers. This rule 
does not differentiate between ring carriers processed for use in the 
United States and other countries because, at the time of sale to 
beverage bottlers, the processor has no knowledge as to where the ring 
carriers will be sold or used.
    Each ring processor and importer must determine that its ring 
carrier meets this degradable performance standard using either of the 
tests described in today's rule, before marketing for use the ring 
carriers. The Agency does not intend for processors and importers of 
ring carriers to test each shipment of ring carriers to determine if 
they meet the performance standard; rather they should test the ring 
carrier each time the ring carrier's formulation or processing 
procedure changes substantially. Importers must not knowingly 
distribute ring carriers that do not meet this performance standard and 
they should seek assurance from the processors that the ring carriers 
meet the performance standard. If more than one processor manufactures 
ring carriers using the same ring carrier material and processing 
conditions, then they do not each have to test their own ring carrier; 
they may share the test data.

VI. Administrative Designation and Regulatory Analysis

A. Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735 (October 4, 1993)), the 
Agency must determine whether the regulatory action is ``significant'' 
and therefore subject to the Office of Management and Budget review and 
the requirements of the Executive Order. The Order defines 
``significant regulatory action'' as one that is likely to result in a 
rule that may:
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or 
adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or 
    (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, 
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in 
the Executive Order.''
    It has been determined that this rule is not a ``significant 
regulatory action'' under the terms of Executive Order 12866 and is 
therefore not subject to OMB review because the Agency believes the 
processors are able to meet these standards without changing current 

B. Executive Order 12875

    Executive Order 12875, ``Enhancing the Intergovernmental 
Partnership'', is intended to reduce imposition of unfunded federal 
mandates on state, local and tribal governments. This rule does not 
impose a mandate on these governments. The requirements of this rule 
apply solely to the plastic processors of ring carriers and do not 
compel any action by state, local or tribal governments.

C. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C 601 et seq.) requires an 
agency to prepare, and make available for public comment, a regulatory 
flexibility analysis that describes the impact of a proposed or final 
rule on small entities (i.e., small businesses, small organizations, 
and small governmental jurisdictions). No regulatory flexibility 
analysis is required if the head of an agency certifies the rule will 
not have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
    This rule will affect ring carrier processors, none of whom are 
small entities. Small entities are not likely to enter into this market 
because of the requirements for expensive application equipment and 
quantities of materials. Therefore, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 605(b), 
I hereby certify that this rule, as promulgated, will not have a 
significant adverse economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities (as defined by the Regulatory Flexibility Act).

D. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Agency has determined that there are no additional reporting, 
notification, or recordkeeping provisions associated with this rule. 
Such provisions, were they included, would be submitted for approval to 
OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

VII. References

    (1) Narayan, Ramani. ``Development of Standards for Degradable 
Plastics by ASTM Subcommittee D-20.96 on Environmentally Degradable 
Plastics''. 1992.
    (2) Samaras, Peter, L. Letter to EPA, for ITW Hi-cone. August 
31, 1992.
    (3) Research Triangle Institute. ``Weatherability of Enhanced-
Degradable Plastics.'' Contract No. 68-02-4544. U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH. 1992.
    (4) Eastern Research Group. Current Status of State Regulations 
Requiring Degradable Ring Carriers. March 1992.

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 238

    Environmental protection, Beverage ring carrier, Biodegradation, 
Degradable plastic, Degradability standards, Imports, Incorporation by 
reference, Photodegradation, Ring carrier, Waste treatment and 

    Dated: February 16, 1994.
Carol M. Browner,
    For reasons set out in the preamble, title 40, chapter I, of the 
Code of Federal Regulation is amended by adding part 238 consisting of 
Secs. 238.10, 238.20 and 238.30 to read as follows:


Subpart A--General Provisions

238.10  Purpose and applicability.
238.20  Definitions.

Subpart B--Requirements

238.30  Requirement.

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 6914b-1.

Subpart A--General Provisions

Sec. 238.10  Purpose and applicability.

    The purpose of this part is to require that plastic ring carriers 
be made of degradable materials as described in Secs. 238.20 and 
238.30. The requirements of this part apply to all processors and 
importers of plastic ring carriers in the United States as defined in 
Sec. 238.20.

Sec. 238.20  Definitions.

    For the purpose of this part:
    Percent elongation at break means the percent increase in length of 
the plastic material caused by a tensile load. Percent elongation at 
break shall be calculated by dividing the extension at the moment of 
rupture of the specimen by the initial gage length of the specimen and 
multiplying by 100.
    Processor means the persons or entities that produce ring carriers 
ready for use as beverage carriers.
    Ring carrier means any plastic ring carrier device that contains at 
least one hole greater than 1\3/4\ inches in diameter which is made, 
used, or designed for the purpose of packaging, transporting, or 
carrying multipackaged cans or bottles.

Subpart B--Requirement

Sec. 238.30  Requirement.

    (a) No processor or person shall manufacture or import, in bulk, 
ring carriers intended for use in the United States unless they are 
designed and manufactured so that the ring carriers degrade to the 
point of 5 percent elongation at break, when tested in accordance with 
ASTM D-3826-91, ``Standard Practice for Determining Degradation End 
Point in Degradable Polyolefins Using a Tensile Test'', after the ring 
carrier is exposed to, either:
    (1) 250 light-hours of UV in accordance with ASTM D-5208-91,'' 
Standard Practice for Operating Fluorescent Ultraviolet (UV) and 
Condensation Apparatus for Exposure of Photodegradable Plastics'', 
using cycle A; or
    (2) 35 days, during June and July, to marine conditions in a 
location below the latitude 26 degrees North, in continental United 
States waters.
    (b) The incorporation by reference of ASTM D-3826-91, ``Standard 
Practice for Determining Degradation End Point in Degradable 
Polyolefins Using a Tensile Test'', and ASTM D-5208-91, ``Standard 
Practice for Operating Fluorescent Ultraviolet (UV) and Condensation 
Apparatus for Exposure of Photodegradable Plastics,'' was approved by 
the director of the Federal Register in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) 
and 1 CFR part 51. Copies are available from the American Society of 
Testing and Materials, 1916 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Copies 
may be inspected at the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) 
Docket Information Center, (5305), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 
Headquarters, 401 M Street, SW., Washington, DC 20460 or at the Office 
of the Federal Register, 800 North Capitol Street, NW., suite 700, 
Washington, DC. These materials are incorporated as they exist on the 
date of the approval and notice of any change in these materials will 
be published in the Federal Register.

[FR Doc. 94-4369 Filed 2-28-94; 8:45 am]