If your facility uses industrial oil absorbent pads, rags, or mats, you need to dispose of them in safe ways that don’t harm the environment or your workforce. Let’s look at different forms of oil-contaminated waste disposal, then discuss the alternatives to traditional disposal methods.
Traditional Methods of Oil Absorbent Disposal
There are many ways to dispose of oil absorbent pads, mats, and rags, but not all of them are environmentally friendly. The EPA and many state and municipal governments have preferred procedures for discarding industrial absorbents that may differ from traditional methods. Traditional forms of absorbent disposal include:
- Landfill disposal: This method involves sending absorbents to a landfill where they take up space. Absorbents need to be handled, assessed, and processed to ensure they have no free-flowing oil left on them. However, if you send them to a landfill, they become garbage that could damage the environment around them.
- Incineration: If you don’t want to send your absorbents to a landfill, you could burn them at high temperatures in a process called incineration. This prevents the materials from spreading used oil or waste oil into their surroundings. Unfortunately, this process generates smoke and releases heavy metals, carcinogens (like dioxin), and particulates into the air.
- Waste generation: This method uses waste to generate electricity. You could use it if you don’t feel comfortable with the incineration or landfill options. However, like incineration, this method releases particulates, heavy metals, and carcinogens into the air.
While these methods successfully dispose of oil absorbents, they do so at the expense of the environment. Luckily, there are more sustainable ways to properly dispose of absorbent materials.
Sustainable Methods of Oil Absorbent Disposal
Here are several sustainable methods of absorbent disposal that the EPA recommends:
- Reuse absorbent materials: Not all absorbents are meant to be thrown out. Reusable absorbent mats, pads, and rags do exist. They reduce pollution caused by absorbent disposal and save costs you put towards single-use absorbents.
- Recycle absorbents: In this process, you collect used absorbents that have become waste materials and send them to a facility that turns them into raw materials for new products. This method cuts down on waste, saves energy, creates jobs, and reduces the need for landfills.
- Energy recovery: If you have non-recyclable absorbent materials, it’s best to dispose of them sustainably through the energy recovery process. This turns single-use absorbents into electricity, fuel, or heat through techniques like gasification, combustion, and anaerobic digestion. This disposal method minimizes carbon emissions and methane generation in landfills. It also reduces reliance on fossil fuels.
These methods preserve the environment around you as you dispose of your absorbents. However, your local or state government may have regulations about which methods you can use, so be sure to do research before you choose one.
What Else Should You Know About Absorbent Disposal?
You should familiarize yourself with the words “used oil” and what they entail. The EPA defines what is and isn’t used oil on a federal level, but state and local governments may have slightly different definitions. Learn more about these definitions to determine whether the oils you work with qualify as used oil. Whether or not this definition applies to them dictates how you can discard your absorbents while staying within EPA guidelines and state and local regulations.
How Does Closed Loop Recycling Help You Handle Your Absorbents?
We help you handle absorbent disposal by reducing how often you have to do it. We sell reusable absorbent pads, mats, and rags for you to use throughout your facility, then pick them up and launder them after you use them. Our laundering services separate liquids from your absorbent materials to ensure they have zero discharge.
If you’re ready to take advantage of our reusable absorbents and laundering services, connect with us today.