Solvent Contaminated Wipes & Rags

Solvent Contaminated Wipes
EPA Resources

Under the final rule, solvent-contaminated wipes must be managed according to specific management standards in order to be excluded from hazardous waste regulation. This includes:

  • Solvent-contaminated wipes must be managed in closed containers that are labeled "Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes." Managing wipes in non-leaking, closed containers ensures that the solvents are unlikely to be released to the environment. Closed and labeled containers serve to minimize emissions, prevent spills, and reduce the risk of fires, for example, by securing the solvent-contaminated wipes from potentially incompatible wastes or ignition sources.
  • Generators may accumulate solvent-contaminated wipes for no longer than 180 days prior to sending the wipes. This accumulation standard ensures that free liquids are removed from the solvent-contaminated wipes and the container within the 180-day specified time frame and thus, cannot be stored indefinitely on-site.
  • Solvent-contaminated wipes must not contain free liquids at the point of being sent for cleaning or disposal. Removal of free liquids prior to being sent off-site significantly reduces the potential for release of solvents into the environment, such as through leaks or spills. Free liquid solvent removed from the wipes must then be managed as hazardous waste, as appropriate, and may be recycled to further reduce a facility's environmental footprint.
  • Generators must maintain certain documentation on-site so that states and EPA can ensure the generators are maintaining compliance with the conditions of the exclusion.
  • Laundries and dry cleaners, solid waste combustors, and municipal solid waste landfills that receive solvent-contaminated wipes are regulated under their respective Clean Water Act (CWA), Clean Air Act (CAA), and RCRA regulations. These statutes serve to address the risk from any potential solvent releases to the water, air, and land.

Summary of Requirements
Management Options;
  • Reusable wipes are excluded from the definition of solid waste (ie neither a solid nor hazardous waste). Reusable wipes must go to a laundry or dry cleaner whose discharge, if any, is regulated under sections 301 and 402 or section 307 of the Clean Water Act.
  • Disposable wipes are excluded only from the hazardous waste definition (ie they are a solid waste). Disposable wipes may go to:
    1. combustors that are regulated under section 129 of the Clean Air Act or under 40 CFR parts 264, 265, or 266 subpart H, 
    2. Municipal solid waste landfills regulated under 40 CFR part 258 (including § 258.40) or, 
    3. Hazardous waste landfills regulated under 40 CFR parts 264 or 265.

Whats included:  The exclusion includes F-listed, P-listed, and U-listed solvents, as well as wipes that exhibit a hazardous characteristic resulting from a solvent listed in part 261, and wipes that exhibit only the hazardous characteristic of ignitability when containing one or more non-listed solvents. 
Storage Requirements; Wipes must be accumulated, stored, and transported in non-leaking, closed containers. 

Labeling; Containers must be labeled “Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes.”

Accumulation Time Limits; Generators may accumulate wipes up to 180 days from the start date of accumulation prior to being sent for cleaning or disposal.

Recordkeeping: Generators must maintain documentation that includes:
  1. Name and address of the laundry, dry cleaner, landfill, or combustion facility; 
  2. Documentation that the 180-day accumulation time limit is being met; and 
  3. Description of the process the generator is using to meet the “no free liquids” condition. 

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