Rita Haider, office manager of Victoria’s Nailtique, in Maple Grove, Minn., owned by Vicki Leland, has, after a long haul, found a legal way to dispose of the salon’s used polish remover.

 “When clients come into the salon, they find at the reception three plastic cups with nail polish remover and brushes in them. By the end of the day, we have three cups filled with gunky nail polish remover. We had been dumping the remover into an empty jug and storing it. But we couldn’t find a recycling center that would accept it,” says Haider.

The salon finally found a company that would pick up the waste, Mell’s Trucking, which is based in Mankato, Minn. “They came by and picked up a sample,” says Haider, “so they could determine what else the polish remover can be stored with. They charged $75 to run tests on the sample. They pick up from other businesses as well, such as auto body shops, and store the waste. Then a lot of it is made into some type of fuel.”

Haider says the company will provide the salon with a 15-gallon drum that they can store the used polish remover in. The salon must keep the drum locked inside the salon. Then the disposal company will come out and pump out the drum. They will charge the salon about $1.90 per gallon for this service.

The salon had to fill out numerous forms and obtain a license from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to dump the remover. The yearly license fee, which is merely a license for permission to dump, is $76. If the salon keeps its hazardous waste under 10 gallons a year, the license fee will be waived. “I have been filling out so many forms,” says Haider. “We had to draw up a diagram of the complex where our salon is located, show where we store the product, and send the diagram to the EPA and to the local fire and police departments and nearest hospital. I began to feel like I was trying to get rid of nuclear waste.”

Haider says that when she was searching for a disposal method, she even called the manufacturer of the cups to find out what they recommend for disposing of the gunk at the end of the day. “The manufacturer of the cups said some salons dispose of the remover by dumping it onto a napkin and letting it evaporate. But the man from the EPA said that disposing of it by evaporation is illegal. He said that some people dump it into something absorbent like cat litter and dispose of the material; but that way they create a solid hazardous waste.” Haider adds that when salons dump remover down their drains, they corrode their own pipes as well as the common sewer pipes. “Don’t dump it into the pipes,” says Haider. “The EPA said it will eat up the sewage pipes and can damage the entire system. Plumbers say the same thing.”

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