EPA announced two new rules which became effective on January 31, 2014 for the management of spent wipes. These new rules provide management procedures that if followed will allow spent wipes to be excluded from the classification of a hazardous waste whether they are cleaned onsite or offsite (40 CFR 261.4(a)(26)) or sent offsite for disposal (40 CFR 261.4(b)(18)). 

MEDEP’s current Solvent Contaminated Wipes Management guidance document is currently less stringent than EPA’s rules. According to the MEDEP and verified by EPA, companies in Maine can follow either the EPA rules or the MEDEP guidance document until July 1, 2015, which is the deadline for the MEDEP to revise their current guidance document. In order to avoid potential confusion with the regulators, companies should document under which rule/guidance which they will be managing their spent wiper. EPA’s rules are discussed below. 

EPA defines a wipe as a woven or non-woven shop towel, rag, pad, or swab made of wood pulp, fabric, cotton, polyester blends or other material. Both the EPA rules and MEDEP policy pertain to wipes contaminated with F-listed solvents (F001-F005) except for the solvent trichloroethylene.


  • Decide which approach – MEDEP guidance or EPA rules – works best for your operations and document which approach you are following.
  • Since solid waste landfills and solid waste incinerator facilities in Maine have individual solid waste and air emission licenses with the MEDEP which regulate what type of waste can be received at each facility, we strongly recommend that you contact the waste disposal facility and document their approval prior to shipping waste wipes from your facility.

For more information on the EPA rules or MEDEP guidance document, contact Mike Rioux at St.Germain at (207) 591-7000, ext. 13 or at 

Requirements for Exclusion from Hazardous Waste Rules 

The following Conditions must be met:

  • Wipes/rags do not exhibit a characteristic of toxicity (of heavy metals Ar, Ba, Cd, Cr, Pb, Hg, Ag, Se), corrosivity (pH 2.0, or pH 12.5), or reactivity (i.e. reactive violently with water, generates toxic gases, sulfide- or cyanide-bearing waste);
  • Wipes are non-saturated (contain no free liquids);
  • Wipes do not contain trichloroethylene;
  • Wipes do not exhibit a characteristic of toxicity (other than the solvents listed in F001-F005 with the exception of trichloroethylene), corrosivity (pH 2.0, or pH 12.5), or reactivity (i.e. violently reactive with water, generates toxic gases, sulfide- or cyanide-bearing waste), or any other listed waste other than for those solvents listed in F001-F005;
  • Wipes are accumulated/stored in non-leaking, closed containers that would contain any free liquids, should they occur (non-leaking sealable bags can qualify as a container);
  • Containers/sealable bags are labeled as “Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes” and marked with the start accumulation date;
  • Wipes/rags are stored on site for no more than 180 days from start of accumulation;
  • When containers or sealable bags become full and/or are cleaned on site or transported offsite the containers/sealable bags must be: 
        a. free of liquid; 
        b. closed with all lids securely affixed to the container and sealable bags must be twisted and tied to
        prevent vapors or potential liquids from being released; and 
        c. labeled as “Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes.”
  • Any free liquid must be managed as a hazardous waste; and
  • The following documentation is maintained on site: 
        a. The 180 day accumulation limit is being met; 
        b. For wipers sent offsite for cleaning 
              i. the name and address of the laundry or dry cleaner that is receiving the wipes; 
              ii. The wastewater discharge from the laundry or dry cleaner is licensed under the Clean Water 
              iii. Description of process being used to ensure the spent wipes contain no free liquids at the 
              point of cleaning onsite or offsite. 
        c. For wipes sent offsite for disposal 
              i. Name and address of the landfill or incinerator that is receiving the wipes; 
              ii. If sent to a municipal solid waste landfill the landfill must be regulated under 40 CFR part 258 
              including Section 258.40 (most landfills in Maine fall under this category) or to a hazardous waste 
              landfill regulated under 40 CFR parts 264 or 265; and 
              iii. To a solid waste incinerator facility regulated under section 129 of the Clean Air Act (the three
              solid waste incinerator facilities in Maine fall under this classification), or a hazardous waste 
              combustor, boiler, or industrial furnace regulated under 40 CFR parts 264, 265, or 266 subpart H.