WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday modified the hazardous waste management regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to conditionally exclude solvent-contaminated wipes provided that businesses clean or dispose of them properly.
The so-called “shop towel” rule is based on 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. Reusable wipes are cleaned by industrial laundries and returned to customers.
To be excluded from the hazardous waste regs, solvent-contaminated wipes must be managed in closed, labeled containers and cannot contain free liquids when sent for cleaning or disposal. Also, facilities generating solvent-contaminated wipes must comply with certain record-keeping requirements and may not accumulate wipes for longer than 180 days.
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 benefits.
Passage was applauded by the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA), which has actively advocated for the rule since it was introduced nearly 10 years ago.
Visit the EPA website for more information about this rulemaking.