WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on a revised risk analysis developed for the agency’s 2003 proposed Solvent-Contaminated Industrial Wipes Rule. The rule could impact how industrial launderers must handle reusable wipes.
A wide variety of industries use wipes for cleaning and degreasing, and reusable wipes can be laundered and used multiple times. Six years ago, the EPA proposed conditionally excluding from the definition of solid waste reusable industrial shop towels and rags that are contaminated with hazardous solvents and are sent for cleaning.
The EPA’s revised analysis — which the agency describes in the Federal Register as being “more robust and more sophisticated” than the original — updates the estimated quantity of solvents on wipes and in laundry sludge that may be disposed in municipal solid waste landfills and uses a more representative landfill model, an agency press release says.
“The risk analysis showed that most of the F001-F005 listed solvents would pose little to no risk if the wipes and laundry sludge were disposed in lined landfills,” the agency states on a frequently-asked-questions page on its website. “A few solvents did show a potential for risk in unlined landfills. We will decide the right procedures for managing the solvent-contaminated wipes and laundry sludges in the final rule.”
The Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) favors excluding shop towels from the definition of solid waste, saying in a recent e-mail blast that it’s the “correct approach and should be made permanent.” The association will continue to push for the exclusion.
The rule is meant to improve the clarity and consistency of the regulations for wipes and reduce the cost of regulatory compliance, while maintaining the same level of environmental protection, the EPA says. It’s uncertain when a final rule will be published.
“Revising the risk analysis and publishing a NODA [notice of data availability] has delayed final rule promulgation,” the EPA says. “The complexity of the responses received on the NODA will determine how much longer it will take before we can finish the rule.”
Comments must be received by Dec. 28. Links to the proposed rule and revised analysis, as well as instructions for submitting comments, can be found online here.