A spent solvent is a type of spent material, which is defined by the EPA as “any material that has been used and as a result of contamination can no longer serve the purpose for which it was produced without processing.” Under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), you must adequately determine if the solvents are hazardous prior to shipping off-site for disposal.

It’s important to know how to manage spent solvents. If it is considered solid waste, it may be hazardous and requires a specific method disposal. Examples of spent solvents (from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality) include mineral spirits, chlorinated solvent, paint-related waste, and alcohol that is no longer useful.

How to Determine if a Spent Solvent is Hazardous

A spent solvent is hazardous if it meets certain ignitability, corrosivity, or toxicity characteristics, or meets the definition of a listed hazardous waste.

A solvent may be spent if it is:

  1. Ignitable

A flash point below 140°F. If so, it must be managed as a hazardous waste. Solvents that exhibit this characteristic carry the D001 hazardous waste code.

2. Corrosive

If a material is aqueous and has a pH less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5, or is a liquid that corrodes steel at a specific rate under specific conditions as prescribed in 40 CFR 261.22.

3. Reactive

You will need to know if the material is explosive, unstable, or undergoes violent change without detonative, or reacts violently or generates toxic gases, vapors, or fumes when mixed with water. Solvents that exhibit this characteristic carry the D003 hazardous waste code.

4. Toxic

You will need to know if the material contains any organic or inorganic chemicals in excess of allowable concentrations listed under 40 CFR 261.24.

5. Listed

Does it meet the F-listed hazardous waste under 40 CFR 261.31, which means it must contain 10% by volume of one or more of the constituents in the listing description for waste codes F001–F005.

Understanding the Value of Spent Solvent

Knowing how to handle spent solvents is one of the biggest issues facing facilities in America. Far too often one will elect to dispose of hazardous waste solvent off-site without understanding they can achieve solvent savings on-site. Solvent Recycling Systems designs and manufactures IoT-enabled solvent recovery system that clean contaminated solvents with a 98% recovery rate. This enables a user to reclaim and reuse solvents, continuously.