Last summer, the EPA finalized a rule which allows for more relaxed management of disposable and reusable (laundered) wipes. The federal rule went into effect 1/31/14 but now the states each have to officially adopt the federal rule. The three states in our region (KY, IN and OH) have not yet fully adopted the regulation. Indiana and Ohio have posted guidance indicating that they would approve of their constituents embracing the new rule in advance of the state implementation. So for those of you in Kentucky, you’ll need to wait a few more weeks or perhaps months, but this will be coming your way soon. The rest of you can start thinking about this and implementing changes now.

The old rules allowed for a different management for reusable (laundered) wipes and provided for an exemption in how they were labeled & handled. This new rule adds disposable wipes to the exemption with its own management requirements. For those facilities with complex waste management requirements, you can still legally manage your solvent wipes as hazardous waste. That is not a problem now or when the states fully implement this rule. This rule just provides you with an option which gives you more flexibility.

What types of solvent laden wipes does this apply to?

  • F001-F005 listed solvents (common examples: toluene, MEK, xylene, methanol, IPA)
  • P or U listed solvents
  • D-listed for ignitability resulting from use of a solvent not in the lists above

What types of wipes would not be covered in this rule?

  • Wipes that are contaminated with hazardous waste other than solvents
  • Wipes that have a listed hazardous waste other than solvents (F, P or U lists)
  • Wipes that are exhibit the criteria of characteristic waste (D-Listed for a characteristic other than ignitability) due to exposure to non-listed solvents
  • Wipes that are contaminated with Trichloroethylene (TCE) are NOT included in this rule.

The New Rules: 

  • Collect wipes in a non-leaking closed container that could contain a leak, should one occur.
  • Labeling now required is “Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes”
  • Accumulation time limit is now 180 days from “accumulation start date” (same as for hazardous waste – when the container is full)
  • Ensure there are no free liquids when sending either for laundry or other disposal.
  • Free Liquids must be managed as hazardous waste if removed from wipes.
  • Reusable wipes must go to a laundry or dry cleaner which manages its discharge under the Clean Water Act.
  • Disposable wipes must go to a combuster, boiler, industrial furnace regulated under 40 CFR Parts 264, 265, 266 Subpart H) or go to a municipal solid waste landfill regulated under 40 CFR part 258 or a hazardous waste landfill regulated under 40 CFR parts 264 or 265.

What does this new rule do for manufacturing facilities?

It is designed to allow less stringent management requirements and longer time periods to manage wipes. It will also mean that you do not have to count disposable solvent wipes in your hazardous waste totals. This could reduce some organizations from a large quantity generator to a small quantity generator.

Are there any catches or problems in using this new rule?

As a consultant who also does compliance audits, I can see one big catch 22 involving this rule – consistency. If the facility has some solvent wipes that meet the definitions outlined in the rule for an exclusion from hazardous waste and others that do not, it is likely that employees will not understand having two sets of rules. In this case, unless your staff are sufficiently segregated (i.e., qualifying wipes in one building and non-qualifying in another) I would recommend that you retain using the hazardous waste management rules for all wipes. Employees typically do not remember exceptions to rules or two sets of rules so better to keep the more stringent rule and apply to all.

How can I tell if this will apply to my wipes? 

The easiest way to verify this is to a) look at your waste manifest from your last solvent wipe shipment and look for the waste codes or b) look at your waste profile from your vendor and that will also provide a list of the waste codes applicable to your waste. For most companies, the F001-F005 code should be listed. If it is not listed or is not the only waste code listed, then more investigation is necessary. Contact ECS to assist you in identifying whether your solvent wipes meet the definition of those eligible for the new rule. You can reach us at (812) 945-1541.