Essential thinking

New EPA Wiper rule and how it impacts you

02 Dec 2015

Posted by Brent Dillie

A range of wipes folded upon each other

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated its federal regulations with a huge change regarding managing solvent-saturated Wipes.

This new update -- years in the making -- is a welcome change for companies that want to save on costs, reduce time-consuming laundering practices, and eliminate lengthy contracts. You can read more about the specifics of the ruling with the EPA’s Final Rule Summary Chart, but first read on to find out how this ruling will affect the way you do business.

What are the New EPA Rules?
The new EPA rules focus on solvent saturated wipes. A solvent is any liquid that can dissolve something else. Common solvents are Alcohol and Acetone (Acetone is commonly found in fingernail polish remover to dissolve the polish). Until this ruling, solvent saturated wipers had to be disposed of as hazardous material. Now, they are permitted to be disposed of in a municipal landfill as Non-Hazardous Waste as long as they are properly labeled and follow the rules set by the EPA for disposal*.

This is a shift from previous practices when companies had to use woven or reusable wipes, saturate them with a solvent, use, and then send them into a professional cleaning service to be cleaned and returned. This was a very expensive process, forcing companies to maintain a time-consuming, weekly laundering service and often requiring companies to sign expensive, long-term contracts.

How Will This Ruling Affect Your Business?
Companies previously restricted to expensive, reusable wipes can now adopt a simpler, cheaper, and cleaner process with disposable wipes. These wipes can now be disposed of legally as long as they are labeled clearly and disposed into an approved landfill, allowing companies to buy more economical wipes and avoid the time-consuming and expensive laundering process.

In many cases, disposable wipes are actually cleaner than laundered wipes. You might think the opposite, but laundering and handling can damage the wipes causing particulates and fibers to shed, while disposable wipes are used once, being clean and new from the package for each use.

How Will This Ruling Reduce Your Costs?

Already, companies are seeing a great reduction in cost and complexity. Take the following example that compares the costs of laundered and woven wipes or towels versus a disposable Essentra wipe:

Assuming a site uses 1 million wipes per year, it could incur the following costs:

Laundered Towels, Laundering Cost: $100,000, Replacement Cost: $7,500, Total: $107,500; Essentra Disposable Wipes, Cost per Towel: $50,000, Disposal Cost: $15,000, Total: $65,000

In this scenario, a company is comparing a laundered cost of $107,500 to a disposable cost of $65,000. The difference adds up to an astonishing 40 percent savings, or $42,500 every year.

In today’s competitive business environment, a cost reduction of this magnitude can directly contribute to the long-term success of an organization. Companies using a laundering service with solvent wipes can quickly and easily shave a significant cost from their bottom line by switching to disposable wipes from Essentra.