MacDermid, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Protection

In MacDermid, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Protection, 257 Conn. 128, 778 A.2d 7 (2001), the plaintiff obtained spent "etchant" from customers and stored it in drums or storage tanks. The plaintiff later moved the spent etchant to vessels, added caustic soda and heated the vessels. The chemical reactions during this process produced anhydrous ammonia gas, sodium chloride, copper oxide and water. The copper oxide was washed and either sold or used by the plaintiff in its products. By combining anhydrous ammonia gas with water and hydrochloric acid, the plaintiff also produced ammonia chloride. The plaintiff argued that the spent etchant was exempt from the solid waste regulations because it was used as an ingredient to manufacture copper oxide, anhydrous ammonia gas and ammonia chloride and that none of those substances was recovered from the spent etchant. The Supreme Court of Connecticut rejected the plaintiff's argument and upheld the state environmental protection agency's determination that the plaintiff's process constituted reclamation, not a manufacture of new products using the spent etchant as an ingredient. The Court reasoned: T he history of the regulations reveals that a claimed use or reuse of spent materials ... must be examined to determine whether the process through which the spent materials are claimed to be used or reused is more akin to waste management than to manufacturing. ... In its proposed rules, the agency stated that it was "somewhat concerned that with respect to the use of materials as ingredients to manufacture products the proposed rule leaves unregulated certain processes that could constitute waste management. Processes where secondary materials are the predominant (or even the sole) ingredient are conceivable examples, particularly where the process operator is paid to take the materials. In addition, processes using spent materials may be more logical candidates for regulation because spent materials (having already fulfilled their original use) are more inherently waste-like than by-products and sludge." MacDermid, 257 Conn. at 145-46, 778 A.2d at 18-19.