7 Ways to Enhance Auto Repair Facility Sustainability

Auto repair facilities generate hazardous waste such as motor oil, excess paint and thinner. Proper handling and disposal of these waste streams is important for employee health, but also to avoid fines or significant legal settlements. Our last article The Risks of Hazardous Waste, and How One Auto Repair Shop Solved Them shows how one shop worked with GMG EnviroSafe to make sure that its hazardous waste streams were being properly managed.

But your customers don’t only want compliance. They also want to do business with companies that make an effort to proactively protect the environment and operate in a sustainable way. The good news is that there are many steps your shop can take to focus on your auto repair facility sustainability and become a more environmentally conscious organization.

Here are some examples of common waste streams for better auto repair facility sustainability:

Re-refining Used Oil
Don’t just discard your old oil. With the right processes, oil can be fully re-refined and reused indefinitely without any reduction in quality. One company on the forefront of oil re-refining is Crystal Clean. Based in Indianapolis, IN, they process up to 75 million gallons of used oil per year to create high-quality Group II base oils, co-product fuels and other products.

Antifreeze Recovery
Like oil, even after antifreeze is used, its useful life doesn’t need to end. Antifreeze recovery is a cost-effective, environmentally-sustainable alternative. Make sure you keep antifreeze stored separately from oil, in its own drum, and discuss with your waste hauler about recycling the product rather than merely disposing of it.

On-Site Distillation of Cleaning Solvents
Solvent recyclers can reclaim and recover their waste solvents. One company, Uni-ram, offers a number of solvent recyclers for automotive and industrial use. By letting facilities reclaim a variety of products including lacquer thinners, acetone and gun wash solvents, the cost for transporting used solvent from a premises can drop by 90%.

Oil Filter Recycling
Oil Filter Recyclers is part of the Safety-Kleen organization, and is the largest used oil filter collector and recycler in the United States. Their patented bulk used oil filter collection and recycling system lets customers mix together used oil filters, fiber-based absorbents and plastic oil bottles into one container. One hundred percent of the waste material collected can be recycled.

Recycling Aerosol Cans
Aerosol cans are a significant waste problem—4 billion of them are produced each year in the U.S. alone. But everything from the cans themselves to the left over chemicals inside can be re-used. US Ecology has developed a “100% sustainable solution for aerosol waste that produces recyclable metal, reusable alternative and liquid fuels and is landfill free with zero emissions.” They claim their system is the most sustainable aerosol recycling solution available in the U.S.

Reducing Packaging Waste
You should reduce your packaging wherever possible to minimize your solid-waste disposal costs as well as your environmental footprint. Ask your local parts distributors to reuse and reduce the packaging before it arrives, which can reduce costs for you and them. When reduction or reuse are not feasible, recycle. Ask your recycler about the best way to prepare your recyclables, such as by baling/compacting cardboard.

Pay Attention to Paint
Paint is one of the most widely used materials in the world, but there are several substances found in paint and paint thinner that are harmful to both the environment and people. These substances include VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds. To embrace auto repair facility sustainability, facilities should avoid excess waste by only mixing what is needed to spray for each vehicle, using a mixing scale and quantity calculator. The left over paint can then be used for touch-ups or a ground coat on another paint job. The cost savings will add up.

Ensure Your Own Auto Repair Facility Sustainability
Your environmental sustainability efforts will be appreciated by your customers and your team, and will help you differentiate your business. GMG EnviroSafe can help you achieve these goals, bringing our experience, best practices and solutions to help you go beyond compliance with your hazardous waste.

Contact us and see how we can improve your auto repair facility sustainability efforts.