Wide arrays of industries use wipes-including rags, shop towels, disposable wipes and paper towels-are used for cleaning, disinfecting and degreasing. These wipes are considered hazardous waste when discarded if the wipes exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic or are contaminated with a listed solvent (RCRA waste codes F001 through F005). Listed waste mixtures are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) under the mixture rule, which states that a mixture composed of any amount of a non-hazardous waste and any amount of a listed hazardous waste is considered a listed hazardous waste. Thus, any amount of a listed waste, no matter how minute, when mixed with a large volume of non-hazardous waste, the resulting mixture will carry the same waste code and regulatory status as the initial waste carried. The rule is applicable regardless of the chemical composition and properties of the resulting mixture.
On October 27, 2009, the EPA published a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) in the federal register, 74 FR55163, seeking comments on a revised risk analysis methodology of an earlier proposed rule relating to solvent contaminated wipes. The Proposed revisions relate to RCRA hazardous waste regulations governing the management of solvent contaminated wipes and would exclude these wipes from the definitions of solid and hazardous waste for solvent-contaminated wipes sent to a laundry or dry cleaner and solvent-contaminated wipes sent to a landfill or combustion facility, provided certain conditions are met. If the rule goes final, states with approved RCRA programs would have to adopt the rule into their own hazardous waste regulations before generators could take advantage of this regulatory relief.
The EPA is currently seeking comment on the proposed rule and the risk analysis used. The comment period is through December 28, 2009.