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Final Rule: 2013 Conditional Exclusions From Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste for Solvent-Contaminated Wipes

Rule Summary

On July 31, 2013, EPA issued a final rule that modifies the hazardous waste management regulations for solvent-contaminated wipes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Specifically, this rule revises the definition of solid waste to conditionally exclude solvent-contaminated wipes that are cleaned and reused and revises the definition of hazardous waste to conditionally exclude disposable solvent-contaminated wipes. The purpose of this final rule is to provide a consistent regulatory framework for solvent-contaminated wipes that is appropriate to the level of risk posed by these wipes in a way that maintains protection of human health and the environment, while reducing overall compliance costs for industry, many of which are small businesses.

Background: Industrial wipes come in a wide variety of sizes and materials to meet a broad range of applications. For the purposes of this final rule, EPA is distinguishing between two categories of wipes: reusables, which are laundered or dry cleaned and used again; and disposables, which are disposed in a landfill or combustor. In the November 20, 2003 proposal, we estimated the respective annual market share of 88 percent for reusable wipes and 12 percent for disposable wipes.

Wipes are used in conjunction with solvents by tens of thousands of facilities in numerous industrial sectors for cleaning and other purposes. Printers; automobile repair shops; and manufacturers of automobiles, electronics, furniture, and chemicals; to name a few, use large quantities of wipes, but practically every industrial sector uses wipes in conjunction with solvents.

Rule History

EPA first proposed modified regulations for solvent-contaminated wipes on November 20, 2003, and published a revised risk assessment for public comment on October 27, 2009.

The risk assessment, which was peer reviewed in 2008 and published for public comment in 2009, concluded wipes contaminated with certain hazardous solvents do not pose significant risk to human health and the environment when managed properly. The final 2013 Solvent Wipes rule is based on this final risk analysis.

Additional Resources