Frequent Questions

Are alcoholic beverages regulated as hazardous waste when they exhibit the characteristic of ignitability?

Aqueous solutions containing less than twenty-four percent alcohol by volume are excluded from the characteristic of ignitability (§261.21(a)(1)). EPA originally intended for the alcohol exclusion to exempt alcoholic beverages and some types of latex paints that exhibit low flash points due to the alcohol content, but do not sustain combustion because of the high water content (45 FR 33084, 33108; May 19, 1980). Nevertheless, the alcohol exclusion is not limited to alcoholic beverages or paints. The exclusion applies to all aqueous solutions containing less than twenty-four percent alcohol, even if additional non-alcoholic components are present. The term "alcohol" refers to any alcohol or combination of alcohols (55 FR 22520, 22543; June 1, l990). However, if the alcohol has been used for solvent properties and is one of the alcohols specified in EPA hazardous waste codes F001-F005, the waste must be evaluated to determine if it should be classified as an F-listed spent solvent waste (Monthly Call Center Report Question; July 1992 (RCRA Online #13548)). 

Additional guidance on the alcohol exclusion is available in the following documents: 

Memo, Skinner to Walter; February 26, 1985 (RCRA Online #11060
Monthly Call Center Report Question; August 1984 (RCRA Online #12274

These documents are available at the following URL: https://yosemite.epa.gov/osw/rcra.nsf/how+to+use?OpenForm

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