On 7/23/13 EPA issued a final rule that modifies the hazardous waste management regulations for solvent-contaminated wipes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Specifically, this rule conditionally excludes from the definition of solid waste, solvent-contaminated wipes that are cleaned and reused (hereafter referred to as “reusable wipes”) and excludes from the definition of hazardous waste, solvent-contaminated wipes that are disposed (hereafter referred to as “disposable wipes”).
The new rule excludes wipes that are contaminated with solvents listed as hazardous wastes under RCRA that are cleaned or disposed of properly. To be excluded, solvent-contaminated wipes must be managed in closed, labeled containers and cannot contain free liquids when sent for cleaning or disposal. Additionally, facilities that generate solvent-contaminated wipes must comply with certain recordkeeping requirements and may not accumulate wipes for longer than 180 days.
The exclusions are only applicable to the solvent-contaminated wipes themselves. Free liquid spent solvent would still be considered solid waste and potentially subject to the hazardous waste regulations under RCRA Subtitle C upon removal from the solvent-contaminated wipe or from the container holding the wipes. In addition, the exclusions are not applicable to wipes that contain listed hazardous waste other than solvents, or exhibit the characteristic of toxicity, corrosivity, or reactivity due to contaminants other than solvents (such as metals). Furthermore, solvent-contaminated disposable wipes that are hazardous waste due to the presence of trichloroethylene are not eligible for the exclusion from hazardous waste and remain subject to all applicable hazardous waste regulations.
Solvent-contaminated wipes include wipes that, after use or after cleaning up a spill, either (1) contain one or more of the F001 through F005 solvents listed in 40 CFR 261.31 or the corresponding P- or U-listed solvents found in 40 CFR 261.33; (2) exhibit a hazardous characteristic found in 40 CFR part 261 subpart C when that characteristic results from a solvent listed in 40 CFR part 261; and/or (3) exhibit only the hazardous waste characteristic of ignitability found in 40 CFR 261.21 due to the presence of one or more solvents that are not listed in 40 CFR part 261.
Remember, your State regulations (or policies) may differ from this new Federal Ruling, so check with your State before assuming your wipes may no longer be considered as Solid or Hazardous waste.