Using and managing solvents

Reusing and recovering solvents


It can often be cost-effective to reuse solvents instead of disposing of them. If you can't do this with the solvents you use, talk to your suppliers, your trade association or similar businesses to yours to discuss alternative products.

You can improve your solvent recovery rate by:

  • keeping solvent residues separate to avoid cross-contamination
  • pre-cleaning products to be treated with solvent, so they are free from contaminants that can cause sludge
  • matching cleaning solvents to those used in product formulations to prevent contamination

Depending on the products you use, you may be able to use distillation equipment to recover solvents, or use solvent capture and recovery. This can cut the costs of your materials, waste storage and disposal. If this isn't possible, you may be able to find an organisation that recovers used solvents and solvent-based wastes.

Procedures that will help you recover solvents include:

  • separating solvents from other wastes
  • designing solvent mixes to be attractive to recovery specialists
  • storing waste solvents in a secure location
  • making sure waste containers are sealed and in good condition
  • keeping spare clean containers so that you can transfer waste solvent from damaged containers
  • considering using bulk tanks rather than drums
  • labelling waste properly using waterproof labels
  • ensuring waste solvents are removed from your site regularly
  • keeping records and consignment notes for all waste solvents or solvent-contaminated materials that you keep on-site and transfer off-site