August 13, 2019

Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Have Multiple Management Options

In RO 14912, EPA addresses a unique interface between the excluded solvent-contaminated wipes rule found in §261.4(a)(26) and the exclusion for reclamation “under the control of the generator” found in §261.4(a)(23). Both of these exclusions prevent hazardous secondary materials from being solid and hazardous waste. In this scenario, a generator decides to launder their solvent wipes onsite, but rather than reuse the wipes, the generator will recycle the polypropylene textile cloth and reuse the separated solvent. The generator wishes to employ the solvent-contaminated wipes exclusion for the laundered wipes. However, EPA believes this process does not meet the terms of §261.4(a)(26), because the wipes are not being reused after laundering.

Although the facility could not meet the requirements of the excluded wipes rule in this scenario, the agency noted the recycling process could qualify for the reclamation “under the control of the generator” exclusion, which is one of the three definition of solid waste (DSW) rule recycling exclusions. In order to claim this exclusion, the facility must provide notification to the state, satisfy the recycling legitimacy criteria of §260.43, comply with the emergency preparedness and response requirements on Part 261, Subpart M, and more.

Furthermore, before a facility can make use of any of the three DSW rule exclusions, their state must have adopted the applicable provisions, and not all states have. To assist, EPA maintains a list of which states have adopted which DSW provisions. That said, both the solvent-contaminated wipes exclusion and the reclamation “under the control of the generator” exclusion can be helpful for reducing the amount of hazardous waste generated.


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