Printreg Archive
Re: Shop towel hazardous waste classification

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From: Jeff Adrian (
Date: Fri Dec 19 1997 - 13:28:10 CST


The previous replys to your question are pretty much on the mark. Because
of the existence of variations in interpretation from state-to-state, EPA
is currently working on developing either a national policy or a guidance
document on the management of solvent contaminated shop towels and
disposable wipers. EPA scientists will be conducting additional testing on
solvent recovery from shop towels and disposable wipers at the end of January
1998 at the John Roberts Company, utilizing our centrifuge for recovery. I
know that there plans are to specifically test with regard to f-listed
wastes, and to test disposable wipers of several types.

In all likelihood, EPA will take some time to review the data collected
before either creating a policy or some kind of guidance document. There
very well may be a distinction made between active types of recovery
(wringing, centrifuging, etc.) versus passive forms of recovery (drip collection,
etc.). There may also be distinctions made between recyclable shop towels
and disposable wipers; between non-listed wastes and characteristics
waste. Stay tuned.

Hope this sheds some light for you.

Jeff Adrian
The John Roberts Company
Robert Gifford wrote:
>The following question was sent to the Green and Profitable Printing
>97 Videoconference 12/9/97 but was not answered during the broadcast
>due to time constraints.
>A preliminary response from PNEAC is listed below. If you have
>additional information or suggestions, please respond. A collective
>response will be forwarded to the originator of the question.
>Andy Collins, a printer from New Hyde Park, NY asks:
>"Shop towels used to clean the press, rollers, etc. will obviously
>become contaminated with cleaning solvent and press inks which often
>contain listed hazardous wastes in excess of the 10% limit under the
>F-listed waste definitions. Assuming that the towels pass the paint
>filter test and do not exhibit any hazardous waste characteristics, do
>towels become hazardous wastes when they come into contact with the
>Requirements for management of shop towels vary significantly from
>state to state. Be sure to check with regulators in your state re.
>latest guidance re. management of shop towels. Good follow-up
>contacts in NY include:
>NY Dept. of Envir. Conservation, Pollution Prev. Unit, 518-457-2570
>Assoc.of Graphic Communications, Vicki Keenan, 212-279-2108
>When evaluating whether a used towel must be managed as hazardous
>waste, both the used solvent and the residues (e.g., ink, oil, etc.)
>on the towel must be considered. Remaining solvent or residues
> may cause the towels to be classified as hazardous waste. It is
>more likely that the towels would exhibit a hazardous characteristic
>(flammable or toxic) than that these contaminants would be classified as
>F-listed waste. Some states exclude used shop towels from
>as a hazardous waste if the towels are properly drained, stored and
>laundered, and the remaining used solvent is properly managed.
>Wayne P. Pferdehirt, P.E., AICP
>U. of Wis., Solid & Hazardous Waste Education Center
>610 Langdon Street, Room 529, Madison, WI 53703-1195
>Phone: 608/265-2361 Fax: 608/262-6250
>Robert Gifford
>Printers' National Environmental Assistance Center, and
>Univ. of Wisconsin - Extension
>Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center
>610 Langdon St., rm 531
>Madison WI, 53703
>Voice: 608-262-1083 Fax: 608-262-6250
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