The final rule modifies the hazardous waste management regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to conditionally exclude solvent-contaminated wipes from hazardous waste regulations provided that businesses clean or dispose of them properly. It’s based on the EPA’s final risk analysis that concluded wipes contaminated with certain hazardous solvents do not pose significant risk to human health and the environment when managed properly.
Wipes are used in conjunction with solvents for cleaning and other purposes by tens of thousands of facilities in numerous industrial sectors, such as printers, automobile repair shops and manufacturers of automobiles, electronics, furniture and chemicals.
To be excluded, solvent-contaminated wipes must be managed in closed, labeled containers and cannot contain free liquids when sent for cleaning or disposal, the EPA says. Additionally, facilities that generate solvent-contaminated wipes must comply with certain recordkeeping requirements and may not accumulate wipes for longer than 180 days.
The EPA estimates that the final rule will result in a net savings of $18 million per year in avoided regulatory costs and between $3.7 million and $9.9 million per year in other expected benefits, including pollution prevention, waste minimization and fire prevention.
The rulemaking effort began in the 1980s, when the EPA received rulemaking petitions from industry that requested the exclusion of disposable and reusable wipes from hazardous waste regulation because these regulations were too stringent for solvent-contaminated wipes based on the risks they pose. The final rule is based on the EPA’s final risk analysis, peer reviewed in 2008 and published for public comment in 2009, which demonstrates that wipes contaminated with certain hazardous solvents do not pose significant risks to human health and the environment when managed under reduced requirements.
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