September 11, 2014

Update on Complying With the New Wipes Rule

The new solvent-contaminated wipes rule [July 31, 2013; 78 FR 46448] was effective at the federal level on January 31, 2014. Thus, the rule, codified at §§261.4(a)(26) and 261.4(b)(18), has been effective for about seven months now in Alaska and Iowa. Additionally, several states have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, the rule or some form of it.

As a quick review of the new regulations, if multiple conditions are met, the rule excludes the following wipes from the definition of hazardous waste if disposed or the definition of solid waste if laundered:

However, solvent-contaminated wipes that contain listed hazardous waste other than solvents or exhibit the characteristic of corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity due to contaminants other than solvents are not eligible for the new exclusions—see paragraph (2) of the definition of “solvent-contaminated wipe” in §260.10. Based on this regulatory language, we have developed the following table.

Regulatory Status of Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Under EPA’s July 31, 2013 Rule1


Wipes contaminated with

Status if
disposed

Status if
laundered


Explanation

Spent solvent toluene

Not HW

Not SW

Meets paragraph (1)(i) of the definition of “solvent-contaminated wipe” in §260.10

Spent solvent MEK but wipe fails TCLP for metals

HW

HW

Meets paragraph (2) of the definition of “solvent contaminated wipe” in §260.10

Spent solvent trichloroethylene

F001/F002

Not SW

Meets paragraph (1)(i) of the definition of “solvent contaminated wipe” in §260.10 but is not excluded from the definition of hazardous waste per §261.4(b)(18) when disposed

Spill of unused MEK

Not HW

Not SW

Meets paragraph (1)(i) of the definition of “solvent contaminated wipe” in §260.10

Spill of unused formaldehyde

U122

U122

Meets paragraph (1)(i) of the definition of “solvent-contaminated wipe” in §260.10

Spent solvent acetone (spent wipe is dripping)

Not HW2

Not SW2

Meets paragraph (1)(i) of the definition of “solvent-contaminated wipe” in §260.10

Spent solvent acetone (spent wipe is not ignitable)

Not HW

Not HW

See Footnote 3

Spent solvent isopropyl alcohol (spent wipe is dripping)

Not HW2

Not SW2

Meets paragraph (1)(iii) of the definition of “solvent-contaminated wipe” in §260.10

Paint waste and wipe fails TCLP for metals

HW

HW

Meets paragraph (2) of the definition of “solvent-contaminated wipe” in §260.10

Spent chloroform from a lab

D022 if fails TCLP

D022 if fails TCLP

See Footnote 4

HW = hazardous waste; MEK = methyl ethyl ketone; SW = solid waste; TCLP = toxicity characteristic leaching procedure

1The status shown in this table assumes that all applicable conditions in §§261.4(a)(26) and 261.4(b)(18) are met.

2The wipes are the container they are in must not contain free liquids at the point of being transported for disposal or at the point of being sent for cleaning onsite or at the point of being transported offsite for cleaning.

3Wipes that are contaminated with an ICR-only listed waste but do not exhibit the ignitability, corrosivity, or reactivity characteristic are not hazardous wastes per §261.3(g)(1). Thus, these wipes would not need to be managed under the conditions of the wipes rule.

4McCoy does not believe EPA intended to exclude wipes contaminated with chemicals on the P- or U-lists that are used as solvents, but which are not also listed as a solvent in F001-F005, if the wipes exhibit a characteristic other than ignitability. However, the regulatory language is not entirely clear on this point.

Source: McCoy and Associates, Inc., unless otherwise noted; adapted from §§260.10, 261.4(a)(26), and 261.4(b)(18).

Before the July 2013 rule was issued, a number of states had a wipes policy that excluded from the definition of solid waste all solvent-contaminated wipes headed for laundering and reuse. Therefore, a hazardous waste determination was not required. The new rule excludes from the definition of solid waste only certain solvent-contaminated wipes headed for laundering and reuse (as noted above) and does require a hazardous waste determination. For example, a wipe contaminated with an F-listed spent solvent must still be evaluated to determine if it contains RCRA metals at toxicity characteristic levels in §261.24, even if it will be sent for laundering.

EPA noted in the rule preamble that states that have existing policies that are less stringent than the final rule are required to modify their programs to maintain consistency with the federal program. [78 FR 46480] Thus, many states have adopted or are in the process of adopting the new rule. Per EPA’s state map website, 11 states (in addition to Alaska and Iowa, which are subject to the federal regulations) have at least partially adopted the rule.

 


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Considerable care has been exercised in preparing this document; however, McCoy and Associates, Inc. makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with the publication of this information. McCoy and Associates, Inc. expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the violation of any federal, state, or municipal law or regulation with which this information may conflict. McCoy and Associates, Inc. does not undertake any duty to ensure the continued accuracy of this information.

This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal RCRA regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the RCRA regulations should review state and local laws and regulations, which may be more stringent than federal requirements. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any site-specific circumstances.