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Interpretation Response #23-0064

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: TEN-E Packaging Services, Inc.

Individual Name: Robert Ten Eyck

Location State: MN Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

November 7, 2023

Robert Ten Eyck
Director, Technical Services
TEN-E Packaging Services, Inc.
1666 County Road 74
Newport, MN  55055

Reference No. 23-0064

Dear Mr. Ten Eyck:

This letter is in response to your June 14, 2023, letter and subsequent email conversation requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to the use of plastic resin produced through pyrolysis for the construction of plastic United Nations (UN) performance oriented packagings. Specifically, you describe a "chemical recycling process"—i.e., pyrolysis—which uses heat to break down used/waste plastic to its original chemical building blocks, which is then converted back to resin. You provide information from the producer of the plastic resin stating that the resin produced from pyrolysis is equivalent in chemical and polymer structure to newly produced resin (known as "virgin resin"). Finally, you note this process is distinct from the other widely-used reclaiming method—"mechanical recycling process”—where used/waste resin is ground, melted, and then re-pelletized for use. You ask whether plastic UN performance oriented packagings manufactured from pyrolyzed resin must be approved in accordance with § 178.509(b)(1), which states, "No used material other than production residues or regrind from the same manufacturing process may be used unless approved by the Associate Administrator."

The answer is no. Pyrolysis of the used/waste plastic breaks the plastic down to its original constituent chemical building blocks and creates a resin that is chemically equivalent to the original virgin resin. This is significantly different than the typical plastic mechanical recycling process, which produces a resin that does not have equivalent physical properties compared to the original virgin resin. Therefore, resin produced through pyrolysis would not be considered "used" within the scope of the § 178.509(b)(1) approval requirement and may be used to produce plastic UN performance oriented packagings without prior approval from the Associate Administrator.

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


Dirk Der Kinderen
Chief, Standards Development Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
178.509 Standards for plastic drums and jerricans