logo Tuning Up Your Shop:
Save Time and Money with Clean Operations

November 1998
Links Checked: July 2004

This fact sheet is a listing of basic waste reduction opportunities that can be implemented in your shop. For more information about waste reduction, please check the references provided at the end of the fact sheet.

Seven Ways To Run a Cleaner Shop

• Install drip pans and trays throughout the shop — under vehicles and wherever liquids are transferred.
• Sweep the shop floor rather than hose it down.

• Do not use compressed air to dry parts cleaned in solvent. Air drying the parts not only reduces the emissions from the solvent, it also reduces the fumes that you breathe. Let the parts drip back into the parts washer. If the parts are not completely dry when needed, dry them with a rag.
• Use brushes for cleaning whenever possible. This removes larger pieces of grease and grime, and allows for a longer life for the parts cleaner.
• Avoid all chlorinated cleaners. For example, if the ingredients list "trichloroethane," or "methylene chloride," the cleaner contains chlorine. There are effective non-chlorine cleaners available for all jobs.
• Clean small spills immediately with an absorbent (like ground-up corncob). Sweep up the absorbent material and save for reuse until absorbing ability is gone. Or, use a squeegee and a dustpan to "sweep" up the spill. Then, add the liquid to the appropriate waste container (for example, oil spilled during an oil change would be added to the waste oil container).
• When working on pieces containing fluid, do the work at a "Breakdown Table," where the fluids can be caught in a separate drain and then recycled.

• Segregate and recycle wastes like antifreeze and used oil.
• Keep wastes and areas of the shop separate based on use. For example, designate a "wet" area where all cleaning is performed, and designate a "cleaners" area where cleaning material (rags, brooms, squeegees, etc.) are kept.
• Drain all filters to remove liquid. This can be done in an area where filters are hung over a pan for a couple of hours.
• Do not dispose of solvents by pouring them into containers of used shop towels.

• Do not pour any liquid wastes into a storm drain, septic tank, dry well, or on the ground. These wastes can be a tremendous fire hazard, as well as a hazard to the environment.
• Do not allow floor cleaning waste water to flow into a storm drain (inside or outside) or dry well.

• Keep all containers, including parts washers, closed when not in use. Close off all drains that lead to storm sewers, dry wells, or septic systems. All of these systems are traceable and expensive to clean; avoid getting them dirty in the first place.
• Don't leave solvent stream running on parts washer. Turn on parts washer only when needed.

• Purchase products with long shelf lives
• Use inventory control: first in, first out
• Avoid long-term storage of batteries. Recycle them at least every 6 months. Make sure you pick a vendor who will pick up the cores every time they come to your shop.

• Make sure the entire spray can is completely empty before discarding it. Some metal vendors will take the can for recycling. Check and see if they will take it.
• Phase out the use of spray cans in your shop. Use refillable spray canisters for heavily used sprays such as brake cleaner or use mechanical spray cans when possible and if fire codes allow it.

Sources for more information:
The Automotive Service Association (ASA) is an international organization made up of approximately 13,000 member businesses that work to deliver excellence in mechanical, collision and transmission service to consumers.
Automotive Service Association, P.O. Box 929, Bedford, Texas, 76095-0929
Telephone: (817) 283-6205, toll-free: (800) 272-7467; fax: (817) 685-0225, e-mail: asainfo@asashop.org, website address: http://www.asashop.org. The website has articles, case studies and clean shop tips.
  Pacific Northwest Chapters:
    • ASA-Washington: Pete Hunt, A A M, 7403 Lakeview Drive West Unit #3, Tacoma, WA 98467
        Telephone: 206-473-6970; fax: 206-473-6940; email: asapete@nwrain.com
    • ASA-Oregon: Joe Bernard, 8855 S.W. Holly Lane, Suite 113, Wilsonville, OR 97070
        Telephone: 503-682-8630; fax: 503-682-8875; email: asaoregon@worldnet.att.net

Managing Hazardous Wastes: A Guide for Automotive Repair Shops, Washington State Department of Ecology, Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program, Publication #92-BR-12, Revised, February 1999. Website: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/pubs.shtm
Department of Ecology, Publications, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600
    Include street address for UPS delivery

CCAR-GreenLink®. CCAR is a partnership of industry, education and government, and CCAR-GreenLink® offers automotive technicians, automotive educators, and half a million businesses, including automotive service and repair facilities, autobody shops and vehicle dealers, quick access to important information on a variety of environmental issues these professionals encounter. Website: http://www.ccar-greenlink.org Phone: 1-888-GRN-LINK (476-5465)


Created by the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center, 513 First Ave. West, Seattle, WA 98119
phone: 206-352-2050, fax: 206-352-2049, e-mail: office@pprc.org, WWW address: http://www.pprc.org with funding support from EPA.