RCRA Exclusion for Solvent Contaminated Wipes

In July of 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed a rule lessening the hazardous waste requirements for solvent contaminated wipes.  The rule will become effective on January 21, 2014 at the Federal level.  Solvent contaminated wipes, or shop towels, which are laundered, will be conditionally excluded from regulation as solvent wipes.  Additionally, solvent contaminated wipes that are discarded will be conditionally excluded from regulation as a hazardous waste.

While this rule will become effective on a Federal level in January, the exclusion will not become effective on a state level until the local waste management agency formally adopts the standard.  According to the EPA, the purpose of the rule is “to provide a consistent regulatory framework for solvent-contaminated wipes that is appropriate to the level of risk posed by these wipes in a way that maintains protection of human health and the environment, while reducing overall compliance costs for industry, many of which are small businesses”.

Solvent contaminated wipes are used in a large number of industrial facilities and are mainly used for cleaning.  Taking advantage of this rule will help some facilities reduce their hazardous waste costs and may even allow a lesser generator status for facilities.  It is important to fully understand the rule, as not all solvent contaminated wipes are included.  The exclusions will apply to wipes that contain one or more of the following:

  • The spent solvent descriptions F001 through F005 at 40 CFR 261.31 (e.g., spent acetone or spent benzene); or
  • The corresponding P or U lists found at 40 CFR 261.33 (e.g., unused acetone or unused benzene).

Additionally, the exclusion will also apply to:

  • Wipes that exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic resulting from any of the before-mentioned solvents, or
  • Wipes that exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic of ignitability when containing one or more non-listed solvents (e.g., isopropyl alcohol or ethanol).

Management of hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste can be a difficult, time-consuming process for many industrial facilities.  If your facility needs help with waste management, please contact EES and we can provide full assistance.

For more information on the rule, click here.

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