November 15, 2016

EPA’s New Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Page

The solvent-contaminated wipes rule [July 31, 2013; 78 FR 46448] has been effective in some parts of the country since January 2014. The two new exclusions under the wipes rule are based on complying with many requirements. On the agency’s new Frequent Questions About Implementing the Regulations for Solvent-Contaminated Wipes web page, they answer many of the questions we’ve heard from our seminar attendees. Below are some we feel are worth highlighting.

Please remember that the wipes rule is less stringent, so authorized states are not required to adopt it. More to the point, your state must adopt the rule before you may use the exclusions. To see if your state has adopted all or part of this rule, go to Where is the Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Final Rule in Effect.

  1. Is a mattress, mop, floor mat, or personal protective equipment a wipe?

No. EPA doesn’t consider these materials to be wipes, so they are not eligible for the wipes rule exclusions.

In the preamble to the final rule, EPA stated that items such as uniforms or personal protective equipment do not meet the common sense definition of “wipe.” [78 FR 46462] Additionally, in the Response to Comments document to the rule (Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-RCRA-2003-0004), EPA clarified that they did not intend the exclusions to cover other materials, such as sponges, personal protective equipment, gloves, aprons, chemical suits and other personal devices, shirts, coveralls, work uniforms, floor mats, and mops. Furthermore, the agency said that the conditions in the rule were based on a risk analysis of just solvent-contaminated wipes, so it was beyond the scope of the rule to include other types of materials.

  1. Are unused wipes (such as unused retail products) eligible for the exclusions?

No. Pre-dosed, unused solvent or alcohol-containing wipes or pads (e.g., nail polish remover pads), such as those discarded by the retail industry, are not be eligible for exclusions. These pads, which are unused, do not meet the definition of “solvent-contaminated wipe” [§260.10], which is limited to wipes that have been used. In additon, EPA’s risk analysis for the rule did not consider pre-dosed, unused solvent or alcohol-containing pads.

  1. May a labeled, closed bag of contaminated wipes that does not contain free liquids be transported to a landfill or municipal waste combustor with other solid waste trash?

Yes, a bag of solvent-contaminated wipes that meets the conditions of the exclusion (i.e., closed, labeled, and contains no free liquids) may be placed into a dumpster and transported to a landfill with other solid waste trash.

  1. Can I launder solvent-contaminated wipes onsite under the rule?

Yes, solvent-contaminated wipes may be laundered onsite, provided the conditions of §261.4(a)(26) are met. This includes the condition that the laundry or dry cleaner’s discharge, if any, is regulated under Clean Water Act Sections 301 and 402, or Section 307.


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