The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) is working with environmental officials in every state promoting the adoption of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule on industrial wiping cloths that was nearly 30 years in the making. To date, nine states – Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia –have all implemented the rule in its entirety. The state of Montana is expected to become the 10th state to adopt the rule during the first week of August. Meanwhile, officials in the vast majority of other states indicate they plan to adopt the rule.
“The EPA has finally better leveled the regulatory playing field between non-laundered wipes and rags which our member companies produce, and laundered shop towels,” says Jackie King, executive director of SMART. “We encourage environmental officials in every state to adopt the EPA’s wiper rule in its entirety as quickly as possible after they have evaluated its provisions.”
The EPA rule clarifies the handling and disposal of solvent-contaminated industrial wiping cloths. Historically, used, non-laundered wipers contaminated with solvents have been identified as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), making them subject to stringent and expensive handling and disposal obligations. The new EPA rule creates a conditional exclusion from the definition of hazardous waste for non-laundered wipes and a conditional exclusion from the definition of solid waste for laundered wipes. Under the final rule, in order to be eligible for exemption, generators of both non-laundered wipes and laundered shop towels must:
-Ensure the wipes are stored in non-leaking, closed containers;
-Not accumulate wipes/shop towels for more than 180 days;
-Ensure that when the wipes are transported off-site the container has no “free liquids”;
-Maintain accurate record-keeping of all stored and transported industrial wipes.
Assuming these standards are met, non-laundered wipes will be able to be disposed of in either a lined, non-hazardous waste landfill or in a hazardous waste landfill; a municipal waste combustor regulated under New Source Performance standards under the Clean Air Act or a hazardous waste combustor or hazardous waste boiler or industrial furnace. Meanwhile, laundered shop towels may be sent to either an industrial laundry or dry cleaner that is subject to effluent discharge requirements under the Clean Water Act and has a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit or is subject to indirect discharge limitations imposed by a publicly-owned treatment works (POTW).
King says officials with the state of Nebraska have recently indicated they are inclined to approve the new rule. She says SMART will be expressing its support of the rule and will encourage officials there to give the rule final approval upon their completion of their formal review process.