Ask the Expert, Hazardous Waste Management, Q&A

Solvent Contaminated Wipes

Q. Does the solvent contaminated wipes 180-day accumulation limit mean we accumulate and send wipes for disposal within 180 days or accumulate for 180 days and store on site for another amount of time?

A. You ask a very important question concerning the solvent-contaminated wipes (SCW) rule. “180 days” means that the SCWs must be accumulated and sent for cleaning or disposal within 180 days. There is nothing in the regulation or EPA guidance materials in connection with the SCW rule to suggest that it’s permissible to tack-on extra days to the stated 180-day accumulation time period. (This rule is unlike the hazardous waste accumulation rule at 40 CFR 262.34(c)(2) which allows a 3-day period for the transfer of hazardous waste from the satellite area to a 90-day or greater-than-90-day storage area once the volume of waste in a satellite area exceeds the 55-gallon limit).

The following information from EPA sources may be of help regarding the 180-day provision. The first two points indicate that the wipes must be sent for disposal or laundering within the 180-day period supporting what seems to be EPA’s overall conclusion that 180 days is a time period that is sufficient for both accumulation of wipes and their removal from the site.

The other points noted may be helpful to you in managing your SCWs in containers during the 180-day period.

  • The 180-day accumulation standard ensures that free liquids are removed from the SCWs and the container within the 180-day time frame and thus, cannot be stored indefinitely. Generators taking advantage of the SCW conditional exclusion likely already have contractual arrangements with laundries or dry cleaners that schedule periodic (e.g., weekly) pickup of SCWs and, thus, this accumulation time limit should not present an undue burden to generators.
  • EPA chose what it calls “this straightforward accumulation time limit” as it believes it is easier to implement by the tens of thousands of facilities that generate SCWs. The 180-day accumulation time limit is what is currently required for small quantity generators (SQGs) under 40 CFR 262.34 and thus, provides the greatest flexibility for generators managing excluded SCWs. The regulations at 40 CFR 262.34 also allow SQGs to accumulate hazardous wastes for up to 270 days if the generator must transfer the waste to a facility located more than 200 miles from the generator. However, because SCWs managed under the SCW rule can go to municipal solid waste landfills, EPA anticipates that transportation distances will be shortened given the greater number of available options under the SCW rule.
  • The 180-day clock begins at the start date of accumulation for each container (i.e., the date the SCW is placed in the container). Generators may transfer SCWs between containers to facilitate accumulation, storage, off-site transportation, or removal of free liquids. For example, a generator may wish to consolidate several partially filled containers of SCWs. However, the 180-day “clock” for accumulation does not restart if the SCWs are merely transferred to another container.
  • Since wipes may not be accumulated for more than 180 days from the start date, including a start date on the accumulation container would add a degree of certainty to that process but that is not required. There are other methods to document that the 180-day accumulation is being met, such as an established schedule for pickups, a log of container dates, etc.

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