A Cleaner, Safer Solution
Are you ready to get rid of the filthy shop towel habit yet? Some people hang on to shop towels because they think that they’re less expensive than disposable wipes. An industry analysis shows that when you figure in the hidden costs of laundered towels and rags — including fuel surcharges, rental fees, disposal and lost towel charges — each towel costs 18 to 28 cents per use. The average cost of a disposable wipe is about 16 cents.
Disposable wipes have other advantages. First, they are clean and safe. Because they’re fresh from the manufacturer, they don’t contain oil, grease, metal shards, heavy metals or other contaminants like shop towels do.
Second, disposable wipes are task-specific. If you’re wiping your hands, there’s a clean, safe, inexpensive wipe for that. If you’re prepping a part for painting or coating, there’s a wipe that’s lint-free and won’t scratch. Need something for scrubbing or wiping with solvents? Disposable wipes have you covered.
Third, disposable wipes are better for the environment. An Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA) study found that disposable wipers contributed to less than one-tenth of one percent of all industrial wastes placed in landfills.
Studies by Kimberly-Clark have determined that after an average of 12 washes, over 245 million shop towels are landfilled each year, in addition to the 250,000 pounds of hazardous sludge that is extracted from laundry wastewater. On top of that, more than 13 million pounds of hazardous contaminants are discharged from laundries and treated by Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) annually, making shop towels less environmentally friendly than most disposables.
If landfilling isn’t a viable answer for your facility, disposable wipers are also excellent candidates for incineration and fuels blending. These two waste management processes minimize liability and limit or eliminate the need for these wastes to be landfilled.
The Best Option
It’s hard to get everyone on the same page when it comes to wipes. Is it a safety issue? An environmental issue? An accounting issue? Often, it’s all three. But getting everyone in agreement can help improve safety, minimize environmental harm and help the bottom line.
You tell us: What do you use in your facility? Are you still using rags or have you switched to disposable wipes? Let us know in the comments section below!