Can Waste Transporters Capitalize on Excluded Materials Rule Change?
Who ever thought the EPA would modify a regulation to be less stringent? Most generators, transporters, and waste handlers have heard by now that, beginning January 31, 2014,
solvent contaminated wipes – either disposable or reusable – can be conditionally excluded from being managed as hazardous waste. These are commonly seen as cotton rags or paper wipes that currently carry the RCRA codes of F002 through F005 (except for trichloroethylene) and any characteristic code that is the result of one of those solvents. Primarily that includes D001.
The new exclusion was recorded in the Federal Register Vol. 78 No. 147 dated July 31, 2013. The new exclusion specifies that they expect wipes to go to one of the following three alternatives:
- “An Industrial Laundry or a dry cleaner that discharges, if any, under sections 301 and 402 or section 307 of the Clean Water Act.”
- “A Municipal Solid Waste Landfill that is regulated under 40 CFR part 258, including 258.40 or a hazardous waste landfill regulated under 40 CFR parts 264 or 265.”
- “A municipal waste combuster or other combustion facility that is regulated under section 129 of the Clean Air Act; a hazardous waste combustor regulated under 40 CFR parts 264 or 265 or a hazardous waste boiler or industrial furnace regulated under 40 CFR part 266 subpart H.”
The surprising option on the list is, of course, disposal in a municipal or hazardous waste landfill. What prompted this radical change in regulation that has been in effect since the 1980s? Way back in 1985, Kimberly-Clark Corporation filed a rule making petition citing an undue burden on the industry. Scott Paper Company joined the petition later on. Thirty years later, this new exclusion is the final response from the EPA to that petition.
The rule change goes into an in depth description of how the EPA evaluated the risk of putting this waste into an unlined municipal landfill. Through this testing they determined that this disposal is safe and drinking water will not be contaminated. We can all feel safe as long as the conditions for exclusion are followed.
Following the conditions of exclusion is what enables a generator to declare that their solvent wipes are not regulated under the provisions of RCRA. Those exclusions are as follows:
- Wipes must be stored and transported in a non-leaking closed container. Note that the container does not have to be a “sealed” container during accumulation. A safety container with a spring loaded lid is sufficient; a piece of plywood set on top of the container is not sufficient. The container must be able to contain free liquids should free liquids occur. The container must be labeled “Excluded Contaminated-Solvent Wipes.”
- Accumulation period of up to 180 days is the maximum time allowed for the generator.
- No free liquids are allowed when the containers are shipped. This is determined by the Paint Filter Liquids Test (EPA Method Test 9095B). Any free liquid accumulated is hazardous waste subject to all of the same previous regulations.
- Generators must maintain documentation that they are managing excluded solvent-contaminated wipes and keep the documentation at their site.
One important thing to note is that classification as a wipe is determined mostly by common sense. A cotton swab on a wooden or plastic stick is a wipe. General debris contaminated with solvent is not a wipe. General debris may include PPE, uniforms, and paper cups.
How has this new exclusion affected states that have regulations that are more stringent than federal regulations?
The stated intent of the exclusion in federal regulation is to “provide consistency in the regulations governing solvent-contaminated wipes across the United States.” At the time of this blog entry, if the generator of the wipes is from the state of California you can pretty much disregard most of what is written above with respect to converting previously RCRA regulated status to Non-hazardous status.
Two sources within the DTSC have communicated to me that while the state is discussing the issue, they have made no change in the CA regulation which defines solvent wipes as hazardous waste with state codes 351 or 352. One can come to their own conclusion as to whether the state of California will be allowing solvent rags to go to the local municipal landfill any time soon. This does not mean that there will not be regulatory relief for generators in states like California.
While the state of CA does have the option to opt out of the exclusion regulation as it applies in CA, it does not have the option to decide for facilities outside of CA. If the waste originates in CA it would be required to use a D001 characteristic code. If all of the exclusions are followed and final disposal or recycle is outside of CA the wipe exclusion rule can apply.
A hazardous waste landfill in Nevada has confirmed that they will be charging at the non-RCRA rate for solvent contaminated wipes coming to them as excluded. Industrial non-RCRA landfills outside of the state of CA in Arizona have also said they will no longer have any restrictions on receiving solvent contaminated wipes as long as all excluded provisions are met.
Just because you can now landfill a solvent wipe should you?
Despite these changes, the most important aspect of this discussion is whether you SHOULD put solvent wipes into landfills. Temarry Recycling offers a better solution. At Temarry, we believe that recycling is always the best option. As a regulated hazardous waste combustor, we utilize wipes and other debris as a fuel source to generate heat that operates our solvent recovery stills. These stills then produce a product that is returned back to industry. This is “True Recycling”, and the highest level of sustainability serving the Western U.S.
By managing solvent wipes as “Excluded Contaminated-Solvent Wipes” and eliminating the RCRA codes, our regulatory compliance costs are reduced and cost reduction is passed on to our customers. No combustor will ever be as cheap as a local municipal landfill, but Temarry will always represent the highest form of sustainability and have the greatest positive impact on the environment that we all share.