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The Solvent Contaminated Wipes Rule in Michigan

The Solvent Contaminated Wipes Rule in Michigan

On January 31st of 2014, the USEPA’s Solvent Wipe Rule became effective at the Federal level and in those states lacking authorization under RCRA to operate their own hazardous waste program.  As a state with an authorized hazardous waste program, Michigan has the option to adopt the new Federal Rule in its entirety, adopt it in part, or reject it outright and manage solvent-contaminated wipes by its own state rules.  The purpose of this article is to explain the regulatory requirements for the management of solvent-contaminated wipes by a hazardous waste generator in Michigan.

First, a brief review of the USEPA’s Solvent Wipe Rule:

The USEPA’s Solvent Wipe Rule provides an exclusion from regulation as a solid waste (for reusable wipes that are laundered) or as a hazardous waste (for disposable wipes that are sent to a Municipal Solid Waste Landfill or Combustor) if certain pre-conditions are met and if the wipes are managed in a manner specified by regulation.

Pre-conditions for solvent-contaminated wipe exclusion:

  • Wipe must be contaminated with a listed solvent:  F001 – F005 or its P- or U- listed equivalent; or, exhibit the characteristic of ignitability only.
  • A disposable wipe can not be contaminated with Trichloroethylene.
  • Reusable wipes must be sent to a laundry or dry cleaner whose discharge  – if any – is permitted under the Clean Water Act.
  • Disposable wipes must be sent to a Municipal Solid Waste Landfill or a combustor regulated under either the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act or the Clean Air Act.

Management of solvent-contaminated wipes:

  • Accumulated in closed containers, in good condition, capable of containing free liquids – if present.
  • Free liquids, if present, must be managed separately as a hazardous waste.
  • On-site accumulation of not more than 180 days.
  • Containers must be labeled:  “Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes”
  • Records must be maintained to demonstrate compliance.

Learn more about the USEPA’s Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Rule.

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The status of the USEPA’s Solvent Wipe Rule in Michigan:

Per Christine Grossman of MDEQ (11.28.14):

We expect to adopt part or all of it at our next rulemaking.  However, it hasn’t been reviewed and considered as we are not yet amidst a rulemaking.

She went on to recommend the following resources to keep track of MDEQ rulemaking:

  • Subscribe to the DEQ Calendar.
  • On the MDEQ Main Page select: “Key Topics” from menu bar on left.  Then select:  “Laws and Rules” from menu bar on left.  Then select: “MDEQ Pending Rules” from center.

Also, the MDEQ Annual Regulatory Plan for July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 does not reference solvent-contaminated wipes.

In sum, I’d say that there will likely be no changes to the status of the MDEQ regulations for solvent-contaminated wipes in Michigan until at least the second half of 2015, and perhaps not even then; interested parties will have to stay tuned.

Not a Michigan business?  What’s the status of the Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Rule in your state?

Management of solvent-contaminated wipes in Michigan:

Unlike many other states, Michigan has pre-existing regulations for the management of solvent-contaminated wipes and does not rely on policy or guidance documents for compliance.  Until the Federal Rule is adopted in some way by MDEQ, a Michigan business must refer to Part 111 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Act 451) of 1994, codified in the Michigan Administrative Code at R 299.9206(3):

The following recyclable materials are not subject to regulation pursuant to part 111 of the act or these rules, except for the environmental and human health standards of R 299.9602 and the provisions of R 299.9809 to R 299.9816, as applicable:

(g) Textiles, including shop towels, rags, gloves, uniforms, linens, mops, and wipers, that are being recycled in a manner other than being burned for energy recovery or used in a manner constituting disposal if both of the following conditions are met:

(i) After the textile’s original use, hazardous waste is not mixed with the textile.

(ii) The textiles and the containers used to transport the textiles do not contain any free liquids.

Let’s take a look at this MDEQ conditional exclusion for “Textiles” step-by-step.

First of all, a “recyclable material” is defined at R 299.9107(e):

“Recyclable material” means hazardous waste that is recycled.

Other recyclable materials include:

  • Industrial ethyl alcohol that is reclaimed.
  • Scrap metal that is not excluded elsewhere.
  • Fuels produced from the refining of oil-bearing hazardous wastes together with normal process streams at a petroleum refining facility.
  • Hazardous waste fuel produced from oil-bearing hazardous wastes from petroleum refining &etc.
  • Oil reclaimed from oil-bearing hazardous wastes from petroleum refining &etc.

So, in Michigan textiles are one of several recyclable materials that if managed properly are not a hazardous waste.  As noted earlier, Michigan differs from several other states that never codified the exclusion but instead managed solvent-contaminated wipes according to guidance documents and policy directives they drafted.

The Michigan exclusion is more inclusive and broad than the Federal Rule in three ways:

  1. Its use of the term “textiles” is more inclusive than the USEPA definition of “wipe” as defined at 40 CFR 260.10:  “Wipe means a woven or non-woven shop towel, rag, pad, or swab made of wood pulp, fabric, cotton, polyester blends, or other material.”
  2. It isn’t limited solely to specifically identified solvents or the characteristic of ignitability.  Therefore, a textile that is hazardous for any reason (eg. a glove that is hazardous for the characteristic of toxicity) is applicable.
  3. The method of recycling is not specified as it is in the Federal Rule.  Instead, the two unacceptable methods of recycling are identified:
    • Burned for energy recovery.
    • Used in a manner constituting disposal.

The MDEQ rule further specifies two additional conditions for compliance:

  1. A hazardous waste may not be mixed with the textile after its initial generation as a hazardous waste.
  2. No free liquids may be present.

Though excluded from most MDEQ regulation as a hazardous waste, there remain some regulatory requirements for excluded textiles in Michigan, which will be addressed below:

“..environmental and human health standards of R 299.9602…”

This rule is primarily directed towards treatment, storage, and disposal facilities though here it is applied to any facility seeking to utilize this exclusion.  You can read it for yourself, but it includes vague – and simple – requirements for compliance with existing permits and forbids damage to the environment.

“…the provisions of R 299.9809 to R 299.9816, as applicable:”

I won’t go through each of these regulations, but instead will reference them below and you can decide if they apply to you:

  • R 299.9809:  Used oil regulation; applicability.
  • R 299.9810:  Used oil generators; requirements.
  • R 299.9811:  Used oil collection centers and aggregation points; requirements.
  • R 299.9812:  Used oil transporters and transfer facilities; requirements.
  • R 299.9813:  Used oil processors and rerefiners; requirements.
  • R 299.9814: Used oil burners who burn off-specification used oil for energy recovery; requirements.
  • R 299.9815:  Used oil fuel marketers; requirements.
  • R 299.9816:  Used oil disposal; requirements.

See a pattern?  Unless your textiles are also a used oil, you need not be concerned with the requirements of R 299.9809 through R 299.9816.

That’s it for MDEQ regulations.  However, MIOSHA does have some housekeeping requirements for management of flammable materials found in Part 75 of its regulations at 1910.106(e)(9)(iii), which include:

  • Rags or waste must be placed into metal waste cans immediately after use.
  • Contents of waste cans must be properly disposed of at least once daily at the end of each shift.

Contact MIOSHA Consultation Eductation and Training Division at (517) 22-1809.

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It will be interesting to see what the MDEQ does with this new Federal Rule.  Please contact me if you have any questions about any aspect of the MDEQ regulations or if you are interested in attending my RCRA/HazMat Employee Training Seminar in Detroit, MI on April 23rd.