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 implemented the rule; Montana is expected to do so in August.
In the past, used, non-laundered wipers contaminated with solvents had been identified as hazardous waste, subjecting them 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. 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.
Having met the standards, non-laundered wipes may 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. 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 permit or is subject to indirect discharge limitations imposed by a publicly owned treatment works.