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ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT OF SHOP TOWEL USAGE IN THE AUTOMOTIVE AND PRINTING INDUSTRIES
Pullman, W., M. Wolf, R. Thomas, P. Fitzpatrick, AND P. Craig. ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT OF SHOP TOWEL USAGE IN THE AUTOMOTIVE AND PRINTING INDUSTRIES. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-96/150 (NTIS PB97-133698), 1996.
This assessment identifies the environmental impacts and usage trends of shop towels in the printing and automotive repair industries. The shop towels are used to clean equipment and to wipe up contaminants for a variety of operations. Four types of shop towels were evaluated; woven, nonwoven, paper, and rags. The resource requirements and emissions during the manufacture, usage and disposal of each shop towel were compared, with primary focus on the usage and disposal of shop towels. Woven towels that become contaminated from usage are cleaned at industrial laundries and are a significant contributor to the contaminant loading of liquid discharges from the laundries. The printing industry continues to use woven towels rather than nonwoven and paper towels and may use alternative towel cleaning methods in the future. The automotive repair industry continues to use woven towels, but is slowly converting to nonwoven and paper towels due to their adequate capability and low cost.