As members of the Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSA) move closer to a complete phase out of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) from detergent, the progress is drawing praise from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Speaking at TRSA’s Leadership & Legislative Conference in Washington, Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe called it a “remarkable accomplishment” that 85 per cent of TRSA members are now using NPE-free formulas and the other 15 per cent are on schedule to make the change.
Perciasepe also helped guide the adoption of rules that enable shop towels (wipes) to avoid regulation as solid waste. The action prevented wipes from being classified as hazardous waste and being subjected to costly transportation and disposal requirements.
Both the wiper rule and NPE phase-out must be continuing efforts, Perciasepe noted. Because the rule amends the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act which individual states interpret to implement, all must adopt the new terminology to maximize its effectiveness. In the case of NPE, the agency could make it illegal to use these compounds in detergent, but would rather see non-members comply voluntarily.
“We have a couple of tasks in front of us,” Perciasepe said. “But my main purpose in coming here was to thank you for your work and show you how it fits into the larger context of what we are trying to do.”
Because of such collaboration, the textile services industry has more sustainable detergent and shop towel users have a better way to recycle and remove solvents.