New EPA Chemical Plan acknowledges textile rental's green progress
The Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSA) is pleased that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the TRS industry's efforts to reduce its use of nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE). EPA's announcement Wednesday signals the agency's confidence that the ongoing voluntary phase-out of this detergent ingredient reflects a substantial commitment by the industry to protect natural resources.
“This development reflects EPA's understanding that our industry inherently seeks to improve the quality of the environment,” stated David Potack, chairman, TRSA Government Affairs Committee. “It is the very nature of our business to judiciously use water, energy, and chemistry to provide clean textile products to American industry. Our core competencies include recognizing how laundry chemicals affect our employees and communities.”
In plans announced Wednesday to improve the safe handling of several industrial chemicals, EPA indicated it would not ban the industry's use of NPE, recognizing that TRSA members safely handle this ingredient and are voluntarily eliminating it. Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said, “We are pleased that the industry has decided to not wait for regulatory action to be completed by the agency and is voluntarily taking steps now to phase out the use of NPEs.”
The textile rental industry operates in every substantial town and city in the nation. For the complete range of industries in the American economy, TRSA companies help ensure workplace cleanliness and safety and a high quality business image. Textile rental touches consumers in numerous aspects of their lives, such as clothing provided to them at work, hospital and hotel bedding they sleep in, and clean floors they walk across in stores.
The industry's primary products are work uniforms, linens and towels, walk-off mats, wiping cloths, mops, and other products. These are provided to businesses on a rental basis with laundry pickup and delivery service. Many of the industry's reusable cloth textiles are substitutes for disposable paper products, reducing customers' generation of solid waste. Major users of textile rental services include hospitality, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and automotive-aftermarket operations.
Since 1999, TRSA and EPA have collaborated on the Laundry Environmental Stewardship Program. This has documented the industry's steady decrease in its use of water, energy, and chemicals per pound of laundry washed. TRSA companies are committed to reducing their carbon footprint by adopting more effective work processes and using more efficient machinery. Also, TRSA has achieved Champion status in the EPA Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative, which recognizes business that voluntarily commit to such chemistry.
“Phasing out NPE is the right thing to do,” stated TRSA President Joseph Ricci, “but it will not be easy. Detergent formulations are tailored specifically for use in laundering different textiles and soiling agents. So there is no single solution to replacing NPE. And our industry must provide the cleanliness that our customers require to do their jobs for their customers.”