Printreg Archive
Shop towel hazardous waste classification

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From: Robert Gifford (
Date: Wed Dec 17 1997 - 16:28:14 CST

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 the
towels become hazardous wastes when they come into contact with the listed


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 an
F-listed waste. Some states exclude used shop towels from classification
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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