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back to Calculate your Workplace SavingsReplacing Disposable Shop Towels with Reusable Towels

Replacing single-use shop towels with reusable shop towels can reduce waste management costs, and eliminate the need to treat your towels in accordance with Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) requires shop towels contaminated with listed or characteristic hazardous wastes (such as used motor oil or spent solvents) to be disposed of as hazardous waste, unless the towels are sent to a commercial laundry or dry cleaner. Contracting with a commercial launderer or rag-rental service is a money-saving option worth checking out.

For more information on how to deal with contaminated shop towels, visit the DEC's guide for vehicle maintenance shops leaving NYCWasteLess.

Instructions for Using the Measurement Tool

The worksheet below is a simple cost-comparison tool where you can plug in your business’s costs and variables to determine whether replacing disposable shop towels with reusable towels will save you money. The current costs and variables presented in the worksheet represent default assumptions for calculation purposes only. If the information varies for your business, simply enter the correct information in the appropriate field.

After completing the worksheet, click on “Calculate the savings!” to see the cost savings of switching to reusable shop towels. (Note: If you make subsequent changes to the worksheet, click on “Calculate the savings!” again to recalculate.)



Number of towels used (per month)

Weight per towel (in pounds)

Cost of disposable towels (per pound)

Cost of reusable, laundry-serviced rags (per pound)


Cost to dispose of single-use towels as hazardous material (per drum)1

Labor rate (per hour)

Labor hours to collect reusable towels for laundry service (per month)

Labor hours to collect and prepare single-use towels for disposal as hazardous material (per month)

Weight per used disposable towel (in pounds)

Number of used disposable towels per drum

  1. Cost could range from $200 to $375, and is dependent on type of contaminant.

calculate the savings
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Results: Annual totals and savings




Purchasing costs

Labor costs

Disposal costs

Total operational costs


Total savings due to switching from disposable shop towels to reusable, laundry-serviced towels

Amount of waste prevented (in pounds)

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