Pollution Prevention Guides for 
Auto Body Shops - Fact Sheet 1

Introducing Pollution Prevention

Defining Pollution Prevention
This guide has been designed to help you identify areas in your auto body shop where you generate waste and suggests ways to minimize that waste. The easiest way to reduce waste is to avoid generating it in the first place. Pollution prevention, also known as source reduction or waste minimization, is the use of materials, processes, or practices that reduce or eliminate the generation of waste or pollution in your shop. Pollution prevention can include practices that improve worker safety and reduce the use of hazardous and non-hazardous materials, energy, water, and other resources.

Pollution prevention practices can also include material reuse and recycling (terms defined in Glossary). Treating and disposing of waste by landfilling or incineration is not considered pollution prevention because waste disposal can be difficult and expensive, can pollute the air, water, and ground, and can create health hazards.
Auto Body Shop Wastes
Common wastes generated in an auto body shop include:
  • Body repair materials
  • Paints and masking material
  • Paint equipment cleanup wastes - solvent, paint booth filters
  • Auto body solid waste - glass, metals, plastics, tires
  • Automotive fluids - antifreeze, solvents, thinners
  • Used oils - engine, transmission fluids
  • Fuels - gasoline, diesel
  • Used filters - oil, fuel, transmission, antifreeze recycler unit filters, air conditioning unit filters
  • Wastewater and sludge
  • Used batteries
  • Refrigerants
  • Shop towels
  • Office wastes - paper, packaging, equipment
  • Energy
  • Water
Benefits Of Pollution Prevention
Pollution prevention practices can help:
  • Improve the quality of your products and services.
  • Reduce inventory costs by using fewer raw materials.
  • Reduce hazardous and non-hazardous waste disposal and/or treatment costs.
  • Reduce wastewater disposal and/or treatment costs.
  • Reduce environmental cleanup costs.

If improperly managed, these wastes can pose a serious threat to the health and safety of you and your co-workers, damage the environment, or endanger your community. Hazardous materials and wastes (defined in Fact Sheet 3 - Defining A Waste) can cause cancer, nerve damage, explosions, and air and water pollution.

As a member of your community, you are responsible for helping protect public health and the environment. You should know what materials and equipment in your shop may be a safety hazard, what can and cannot be reused or recycled, and what can and cannot go down the drain or in your trash can.

Montana State University Extension Service
Pollution Prevention Program Taylor Hall Bozeman, Montana 59717
(406) 994-3451
funded by
The United States Environmental Protection Agency
(Fact sheet 1 in a series of 18)

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