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Fiberglass Fabrication: P2 Opportunities
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Glossary of Terms
Reasons for Change
P2 Opportunities
(NEW!) Styrene Issues in Fiberglass Fabication
Where To Go for P2 Help
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Aqueous Cleaning Technology Review
Review of aqueous cleaning for technical and economic viability; covers operational requirements, an...

Controlled Spraying Handbook - Composites Open Molding Spray Applications
(For purchase) Provides training guidelines for spray operators in the open molding companies indust...

Establishing Waste Reduction Benchmarks and Good Manufacturing Practice for Open Mold Laminating
This paper illustrates how to use planned experientation to establish benchmarks for good operating ...

Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics (FRP) Manufacturing
Provides information on air emission issues (including styrene and other HAPs), compliance issues, p...

Guides to Pollution Prevention - The Fiberglass-Reinforced and Composite Plastics Industry
This manual provides information on the pollution prevention practices and technologies available to...

Reducing Volatile Emissions in the Fiber Reinforced Plastics (FRP) Industry
Describes options available to reduce acetone and styrene emissions

Solvent Substitution to Reduce Air Emissions for the FRP Industry
Provides information and guidance on evaluating alternatives to solvents used in tool and equipment ...

Waste Reduction Assistance for the Fiberglass Fabrication Industry
Useful resource describing fiberglass molding, processes, material usage, and P2 opportunities.

Waste Reduction Strategies for Fiberglass Fabricators
Document provides great P2 opportunities for fiberglass fabricators

Pollution Prevention Opportunities for Molded Fiberglass Fabrication

There are many opportunities for fiberglass molders to improve environmental performance and minimize waste. Some of the pollution prevention opportunities are categorized below, in the following areas:

NOTICE! Stay tuned for new updates. The American Composites Manufacturers Association is launching a “Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative” in early 2009 to promote low-emission technologies.  This hub will be updated at that time to include these developments.

Alternative Materials and Design

One general opportunity in facilitating change to more environmentally friendly materials is to improve the customer's knowledge of such products and materials. Some specific alternatives are suggested below.

Resins and Materials
  • Improve customer knowledge of alternative products that reduce environmental impacts.
  • Use resin with no or low styrene content, as styrene has recently been classified as a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen.
  • Convert to UV cure resins to reduce resin waste and cleaning requirements due to hardening of the resin from air exposure.
  • Use vapor-suppressed or vinyl toluene resins.
  • Use inert fillers to replace some of the resin content.
  • Reduce laminate thickness to an engineered minimum.
  • Devise reusable packaging or crate systems for product storage and shipment.
Acetone Alternatives
  • Citrus-based solvent, aqueous, or higher-boiling solvents (see page 4 of this resource).
  • Diacetone alcohol
  • Dibasic acid ester
  • Emulsifiers
  • Ethyl ethoxypropionate
  • Isopropanol
  • Propylene carbonate
  • Use uncatalyzed resin to flush lines
  • Use benzoyl peroxide (BPO) in place of methyl ethyl ketone peroxide (MEKP).
  • Use higher amounts of cobalt and cimethylacetamide (DMA) in place of MEKP
  • Use higher percentage of inert filler
  • Explore alternatives to brominated fire retardants



  • Train operators to optimize transfer efficiency. Some recommended programs that may provide help with this are using laser equipment to maintain the optimal distance from spray tip to the object. Other programs include controlled spray techniques, and STAR program. In addition to the laser, other spraying efficiency techniques include:
    • holding the spray gun perpendicular to the?surface;
    • cleaning nozzles on a routine basis;
    • properly setting up and?maintaining the equipment and equipment settings to avoid unnecessary atomization;
      • calibrating to reduce tip pressure to the lowest point possible while maintaining an acceptable spray pattern;
    • triggering the gun to start at the beginning and stop at the end of each pass to avoid overspray before making the next pass; and,
    • establishing and following standardized shot times for different product types to ensure operators do not apply more resin than is necessary.

  • Use nonatomized or non-spray application equipment, such as flow coaters and fluid impingement systems.Use?air-assisted airless spray guns in place of air-spray guns.
  • Use high?volume/low pressure (HVLP) spray guns (preferred for spraying fiberglass resin).
  • Use flow meters to regulate outflow from spray guns, which can greatly reduce manual calibration wastes.
  • Use lasers to help with proper positioning to optimize transfer efficiency.

Alternative Processes and Controls

One general opportunity in facilitating change in processes and materials is to improve the customer's knowledge of environmentally friendly products and processes.

Several additional suggestions follow. Several are focused on styrene emissions reduction strategies, which requires elmination of styrene when possible, and minimizing resin contact with air.

Opportunities include:

Energy Efficiency

Tool and Equipment Clean-Up

Waste Management and Material Recycling

General Operations and Housekeeping

Housekeeping & Chemical Management
  • Keep lids on products and wastes, and store them so they can be easily inspected for leaks.
  • Keep labels on products and wastes to quickly identify them and to prevent accidental mixing.
  • Use curbs, pans, or buckets to catch any possible leaks or spills.
  • Keep work areas and walkways free of tripping hazards and obstructions.
  • Stack containers so they do not tip, puncture or break.
  • Store empty drums and containers under rain coverrker training/awareness.
  • Use 5S to improve accessibility of materials and equipment, improve health and safety, and housekeeping.
Inventory Control ?
  • Improve tracking systems to account for material and chemical use.
  • ?
  • Have Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) available and accessible (Where to find MSDS online).
  • Buy and store only the amount of product that is needed, especially for product's with expirable shelf life.
  • ?
  • Purchase products in reusable, recyclable containers with a minimal amount of packaging.
  • ?
  • Ration solvents or other products to minimize use.
? Training and Awareness
  • Train workers on regulations, emergency procedures, health and safety issues, waste reduction practices, and alternative products.
  • Empower employees to suggest and evaluate potential new materials and strategies that may improve efficiency or health and safety.
  • Follow routine, standardized procedures for mixing, transferring, and applying gel coats and laminates, and for cleaning tools.
  • Have first aid supplies, spill equipment, and emergency phone numbers accessible and all staff trained in their use.
  • Have respirators, gloves, and other personal protective gear available to workers. Enforce proper use at all times.
  • Improve tracking systems to account for material and chemical use.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Fiberglass Fabrication Topic Hub™ was developed by:

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Hub Last Updated: 9/5/2014