Contaminated Solvent Wipers

Written October 17, 2019

US EPA issued its final rule revising the definition of solid waste to conditionally exclude solvent-contaminated wipes that are cleaned and reused, and to conditionally exclude solvent-contaminated wipes that are disposed. The final rule includes requirements and conditions that are less stringent than those of the base RCRA hazardous waste program. Thus, states with an authorized RCRA program, except as described below, are not required to adopt the conditional exclusions.

States may, through implementation of state waiver authorities or other state laws, allow compliance with the provisions of today's rule in advance of adoption or authorization. The final rule issued by the EPA is generally consistent with many of the states' policies; however, some conditions required by the final rule may be more stringent than some existing state programs.

As a result, authorized states whose programs include less stringent requirements than today's final rule are required to modify their programs to maintain consistency with the federal program. In addition, any states that outline their program for reusable wipes through either guidance documents or interpretive letters will need to promulgate enforceable regulations. The current state requirements will remain in place until the state adopts the equivalent to the recently released final rule. The rule contains two exclusions:

  • A conditional exclusion from the definition of solid waste for solvent-contaminated wipes sent for cleaning (“reusable wipes”) – 40 CFR 261.4(a)(26)
  • A conditional exclusion from the definition of hazardous waste for solvent-contaminated wipes sent for disposal (“disposable wipes”) – 40 CFR 261.4(b)(18)
The rule’s provisions became effective on January 31, 2014 in states and territories that are not authorized for the RCRA program (Alaska, Iowa, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and tribal lands). Since the rule excludes solvent-contaminated wipes from hazardous waste regulations, the rule is considered less stringent than the base federal program. 

Due to this, authorized states have the option of whether or not to adopt the exclusions into their regulations. The EPA has indicated that states operating under policies that are less stringent than the federal exclusions will need to incorporate the federal rule into their regulations. If you have questions, please contact the Government and Business Information Department.