Guide

Engineering business solvents and hazardous waste reduction

Vehicle refinishing solvent use reduction

Reducing the use of solvents and paints in your vehicle refinishing business will cut costs and the amount of hazardous waste requiring disposal and lead to a safer working environment.

You should consider using a powder-based, solvent-free, dry coat system as a guide coat prior to sanding body fillers. There is no need to use expensive aerosol paints or thinners to produce a guide coat, no waiting for the coat to dry and no need to mask the job. There are also no solvent emissions. You could also repair dents that don't need respraying by massaging them from the inside.

You should accurately measure areas to be painted. This avoids you wasting paint, time and money, as well as having to dispose of excess paint. Make sure the mix is correct, otherwise the job may require a complete rework. Using gravity paint cups will help you avoid waste when mixing paint.

Processing paint jobs of the same colour at one time, or one after the other, reduces paint make-up and set-up time, time spent cleaning the spray gun and the use of solvents.

Introducing water-based basecoats for some applications can reduce solvent emissions by around 13 per cent.

High volume low pressure spray guns are one of the most efficient ways of applying paint to surfaces. Fully automatic gun-washing machines ensure you use the correct amount of solvent, reducing wastage.

High-solids paints have less solvent, meaning the paint is more viscous - and more difficult to apply. However, it builds up faster during application, so fewer coats are needed. The lower solvent content results in lower harmful emissions during application.

For cleaning, use dip cans with a plunger pump which allows a small amount of solvent to be pumped onto the cloth. You can also use plastic spray bottles, which allow the solvent to be sprayed onto the item and wiped off with a cloth. Avoid tipping solvent onto a cloth, as the amount of solvent used is often much more than required and the cloth then becomes a health and safety risk when solvent evaporates into the workshop.

You could consider using small solvent recovery machines. These heat up the waste, boil off the solvents and collect the cooled vapours in a separate tank. You can use recovered solvent to clean spray guns.