Explaining Your Options for the Disposal of Used Oil-Absorbents
Tossing Absorbents in the Trash
Tossing your used absorbents into the trash seems like an easy way to dispose of them—but in reality, it leads to costly problems.
Many industries that require liquids like oil to operate are required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prove their used towels, rags, and absorbent mats don’t contain free liquids before they go to a landfill. The “no free liquid” condition is required because absorbents harm landfills by releasing liquids when absorbents are compressed during routine landfill operations.
To prove your absorbents meet the “no free liquid” requirement, you must pass the Paint Filter Liquids Test. The test, technically known as EPA Test Method 9095B, is designed to identify free liquids in a given sample of absorbent material. A predetermined amount of the test material is placed in a paint filter. If any liquid passes through and drops from the filter within the five-minute test period, the material contains free liquids. The liquids test is not required for every solvent-contaminated absorbent or at any particular time. Still, it’s recommended to ensure that if the test were performed, your absorbents would pass.
If there are free liquids present in your oil-absorbents, it can affect your business’s hazardous waste generator status. It also means you can’t take your absorbents to a landfill, or you will be given a violation citation or costly fine. If used properly, the Paint Filter Liquids Test is a valuable tool to maintain your compliance with EPA regulations.
Taking Absorbents to a Landfill
If your absorbents meet the “no free liquid” requirement, you have the option to dispose of them at your local landfill, but this solution has several environmental consequences:
- Pollution: When specific waste, such as absorbent mats, ends up in a landfill, the harmful chemicals seep into the soil, resulting in cancerous cells forming in the dirt.
- Overflowing Landfills: As more of the population continues to neglect recycling, landfills continuously pile up, depositing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.
- Natural Habitat Destruction: As landfills pile up, the earth can’t keep up with the amount of hazardous waste, destroying natural habitats.
Taking your absorbents to a landfill also affects your business’s green goals, like the Zero Landfill Initiative. Achieving zero landfill status means that when you reuse, recycle, or compost all of your waste instead of sending it to landfills or incinerators, you get certified as a zero landfill business.
Using Waste Incineration
Another option for the disposal of used oil-absorbents is to use the incineration method. Incinerating may seem like an appealing solution, but it comes with more baggage than your hazardous waste:
- Increases costs
- Installing an incinerator at your facility is an expensive process. The cost of infrastructure construction and operation is high and requires regular maintenance. Paying for incineration services from a contracted vendor is even more costly.
- Impacts pollution
- Incineration produces smoke during the burning process. The smoke produced includes acid gases, carcinogen dioxin, particulates, heavy metals, and nitrogen oxide, which are poisonous to the environment.
- Damages public health
- Research shows communities near an incinerator plant have higher health risks related to metal and pollutant exposure, such as cancer, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, and neurological problems.
Considering Oil-Absorbent Recycling Services
The final option for the disposal of used oil-absorbents is to not dispose of them—consider a sustainable, oil-absorbent recycling service.
Implementing oil-absorbent recycling processes into your business practices has several benefits:
- Saves money and energy
- Eliminates your absorbent waste stream entirely
- Prevents the increase of pollution by reducing the need for raw materials
- Conserves natural, valuable resources
- Supports American manufacturing
- Increases economic security by tapping into a domestic material source
Recycling companies can help your commercial business achieve green initiatives by designing and implementing an industrial recycling program to serve your operation and focus on Zero Landfill Initiatives.
Providing Quality Recycling Solutions for Your Reusable Absorbents
At CLR, our customers consider us a single-source vendor for quality recycling solutions and reusable absorbents that save money, and they look to us when they want to meet green initiatives and stay industry compliant. We can offer guidance on EPA testing and other best practices for ensuring your meeting standards and regulations. Contact us today to learn more about our reusable absorbent recycling services. Click the button below to start your free trial.
With Closed Loop, you can enroll in our free trial recycling program to get an idea of the benefits before committing to the service.