Going Green? Be Sure To Evaluate Your Absorbent Wipers And Rags!

From using certain light bulbs to investing in hybrid cars, trucks or buses, many companies across the country have found ways to make their business a little greener. But what about your company? How many green procedures, technologies or tools have you brought into the workplace?

Ideally, by 2014 your business or place of employment has begun implementing numerous initiatives to become a little greener. If this has not happened your company is missing out: as early as 2008 business owners were noting that green business practices often helped different companies compete in today’s global market, as well as strengthened a company’s bottom line. And of course, the obvious benefit of going green is lowering any negative impact your business may have on the environment.

Going green is something SpillFix takes very seriously; that’s why we make our absorbent product with a renewable resource. But absorbent products are just one of the tools the industries we often implement. Other tools we often see used along with our absorbent product include spill control toolssupplementary absorbent products, and a range of absorbent rags and wipers.

While absorbent rags and wipers have a number of uses in industrial businesses and are certainly necessary for certain parts of the job, these items often have major environmental and workplace safety drawbacks that businesses need to consider, particularly if they’re looking for ways to cut costs and “greenify” their workspace.

  • Shop towels: Chances are that your industrial business has several boxes of generic washable shop towels being used at any given moment. Shop towels serve a number of functions, from simply cleaning sweaty or greasy hands to wiping up small spills. However, these reusable and washable cloths are an imperfect tool. Shop towels cannot effectively handle every problem that arises because of their generic design; additionally, the washing machines typically used to clean these towels cannot remove all of the grease and potentially hazardous materials that collect on them. Worst of all, shop towels can pollute waterways throughout the nation, which is why the EPA is currently analyzing towel cleaning procedures and may one day begin to regulate towel washing and use.
  • Shop rags: Shop rags are commonly used in a wide range of shops. Unlike shop towels, shop rags are typically made from old jeans, t-shirts, sheets, and other articles of cloth materials. While recycling these items for cleaning purposes sounds green in nature, in practice shop rags can quickly become a problem – particularly if any rags used to clean solvents or other hazardous chemicals aren’t disposed of correctly. If this happens, the adsorbed products can quickly begin to leak, contaminating the soil and water supplies.
  •  Wipers: Unlike towels and rags, different wipers have been designed to meet a range of cleaning needs around the workplace. Like with rags and towels, any business using wipers needs to remember to dispose of used wipers properly, particularly if they come into contact with potentially hazardous materials. Unlike towels and rags, though, many wipers can be incinerated and used for fuel blending; these processes help to effectively minimize wipers’ wastefulness by recycling the used wipers and keeping them out of landfills across the country.

While towels, rags and wipers are a necessary part of business operations, knowing the weaknesses of each of these tools can help you decide which ones to use and which ones to weed out of your workplace. Here are a few things you can do to help as you consider which items to keep and which ones to remove from your workplace.

  • Evaluate how many wipers, towels and rags are used each month.
  • Consider the costs of each of them – not just the financial costs, but the cost of shipping, of disposal, and of any potential hazard that could be caused by improper disposal techniques. Remember: if your company works with chemicals that could leak from any used products, your business will be held accountable for accidental contamination in local areas and waterways.
  • Develop a plan that will help “greenify” your absorbent tool usage.

Does your business use too many towels, rags or wipers? Did you successfully reduce the number of these items being used around work? Tell us your thoughts and stories in the comments!

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