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Soapbox: Consider environmental impact when selecting wiping systems
by Kimberly-Clark Professional
When selecting the right wiper system for a given task, it's important to take into account its impact on the environment.
Did you know that reusable laundered shop towels are responsible for 30% more landfilled solid waste than their disposable counterparts? And disposable wipes take up far less space in landfill than one might imagine... For example, they contribute only one-tenth of 1% of landfilled waste in the whole of the US alone.
The laundering of reusable shop towels is also responsible for as much as 95% of organic, inorganic and metal contamination in the wastewater of industrial laundries. And it is estimated that 80% of the 13 million pounds of hazardous contamination industrial laundries discharge into US municipal sewer systems every year comes from the wastewater of laundered shop towels.
By contrast, some disposable wipers offer a zero-landfill option where waste is converted to energy through incineration, thereby diverting the wiper waste from a landfill. This is done via a disposal service that picks up used wipers and then transports them to a waste-to-energy facility for energy recovery. These disposal services can also handle the safe disposal of used wipers in a landfill. Both options are carried out in accordance with all federal, state and local regulations and all shipping forms and manifests are taken care of by the disposal service.
In addition to these environmentally responsible disposal options, there are choices for disposable wipers that are better for the environment, such as wipers that have a mix of recycled and virgin fiber content.
Disposable wipers also offer ease of use because of a variety of packaging and dispensing systems, which make them both easy to handle and distribute throughout a facility. Dispensers offer the convenience and time-savings of having a clean stock of wipers immediately at hand, while protecting wipers from liquids, dust and other kinds of contaminants. Plus they can provide controlled dispensing to help reduce waste.
The material cost of disposable wipers can vary greatly depending on the type of technology used to produce them. While they may cost more on a per-piece basis than rags or rental shop towels, disposables are usually the lowest overall cost-in-use option when one takes into account the wipers' consistency and specialized performance characteristics, which enhance productivity, and the labour and material savings associated with the ability to be conveniently distributed and dispensed. In addition, many disposable wipers are sturdy enough for extended use, which can reduce per-piece costs.
1st March 2012