U.S. EPA Issues Final Rule On Regulation Of Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Under RCRA
On July 23, 2013, U.S. EPA issued a final rule modifying regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA") concerning the management of solvent-contaminated wipes. The final rule conditionally excludes solvent-contaminated wipes that are cleaned and reused ("reusable wipes") from the definition of solid waste, and excludes solvent-contaminated wipes that are disposed ("disposable wipes") from the definition of hazardous waste. Industrial wipes are commonly used in conjunction with solvents to clean equipment or spills. Solvent-contaminated wipes were previously subject to varying regulations based on determinations or interpretations made by RCRA-authorized states or EPA regions. The final rule creates national consistency and reduces the regulatory burden on industry by not requiring full hazardous waste regulation for solvent-contaminated wipes.
In general, solvent-contaminated wipes-both reusable and disposable-must meet the following conditions to be excluded from hazardous waste regulation under RCRA:
- Wipes must be contained in non-leaking, closed containers when accumulated, stored, and transported.
- Containers must be able to contain free liquids, should free liquids occur. Containers must be labeled "Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes."
- Solvent-contaminated wipes may not be accumulated for longer than 180 days before being sent for cleaning or disposal.
- At the point of transport for cleaning or disposal, the solvent-contaminated wipes and their containers must contain no free liquids.
- Generators must maintain the following documentation:
- Name and address of laundry or dry cleaner that is receiving the reusable wipes;
- Documentation that the 180-day accumulation time limit is being met; and
- A description of the process used to meet the "no free liquids" condition.
- Solvent-contaminated wipes must be managed by:
- An industrial laundry or a dry cleaner that discharges under the Clean Water Act;
- A licensed municipal solid waste landfill or hazardous waste landfill; or
- A licensed municipal waste combustor or other combustion facility, hazardous waste combustor, or hazardous waste boiler or industrial furnace.