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Laboratory Self-Audit: Wood/Construction/Carpentry

Waste Stream Overview:

Estimate how much of your waste falls into these common categories. (Add your own if necessary.)


___% Wood ___% Insulation ___% Metals
___% Finishing Chemicals* ___% Concrete ___% Other
___% Packaging ___% Drywall


*Paints, Stains, Strippers, Solvents

Now look at where you can reduce waste, reuse materials or recycle. Try to make use of building and carpentry products made from recycled materials. Use environmentally friendly products when possible.  When dealing with products that can only be disposed of, choose the least hazardous option.

Use this checklist to identify possible problem areas and develop your pollution prevention plan. 

Wood Waste

Scraps - Do You?

  • Consider efficient use and cutting of lumber to get the most use of each piece
  • Reuse as much as possible for future projects
  • Use crates and pallets for miscellaneous projects; use as kindling or fuel in wood stove (some suppliers will take back their pallets for a refund).

Sawdust and shavings (from unpainted/untreated lumber) - Do You?

  • Compost with plant material, use for small animal bedding.

Insulation (all types) - Do You?

  • Buy only what you will need
  • Use scraps for future projects. Even small amounts can be used to insulate pipes, small structures such as pet homes, or small gaps in larger structures.

Concrete - Do You?

  • Consult with local authorities to find out if set and dry concrete without rebar may be crumbled and used as fill.
  • Save unmixed conrete for future projects, even small amounts can be used for setting a post or making a weight or anchor.

Drywall ("sheetrock") - Do You?

  • Acquire only what you need.
  • Save leftovers for future projects.
  • Use small amounts for patches and repairs.
  • Efficient use and cut drywall to get the most use of each piece.
  • Crumble unpainted drywall for use as a soil additive.

Metals - Do You?

  • Recycle with other metal waste (different metals may need to be sorted).

Other Materials - Do You?

  • Control inventory as described in General Housekeeping.
  • Use as much waste as possible on other projects.

Containers and Packaging - Do You?

  • Re-use empty clean containers for storage of appropriate items.
  • Return empty containers to the distributor for re-use when possible.
  • Train students to scrape paint containers clean so they are lawfully “empty”.
  • Reuse and recycle paper and cardboard as recommended under General Housekeeping.
  • Buy products with as little packaging as possible.
  • Separate reusable and recyclable packaging materials from those that must be disposed of.

Wood Finishing Chemical Waste

All finishing chemicals - Do You?

  • Keep product in original containers.
  • Keep lids secure and closed tightly to prevent spills and evaporation.
  • Do not store containers directly on ground or in an area where containers will corrode. (Store over spill containing pallets when possible; any water contaminated with such waste becomes waste itself.)
  • Teach students proper and efficient application and cleanup  techniques
  • Don’t buy more paint products than you need. Ask your local painting supply company about regulations in your area, recycling opportunities and proper disposal methods.

Wood coating materials - Do You?

  • Call your state EPA or environmental office to determine if coating material is hazardous. (Dry paint may not be considered hazardous.)
  • Use coating with high solid content (usually 35% or more), that require fewer coats.
  • Teach students proper and efficient application and cleanup techniques.
  • Consider water-based coatings.
  • Not buy more paint products than you need.

Strippers and solvents - Solvents can be expensive, treat them so and conserve them. Do You?

  • Consider less hazardous strippers when possible
  • Reuse solvents and strippers when possible. (Use dirty solvent to first loosen wood coating and then proceed with fresh.)
  • Filter solvents to prolong life.
  • When you must dispose of strippers and solvents: Utilize a legitimate recycling facility or a permitted hazardous waste treatment facility.

DO NOT dump them down the drain!

Absorbents - Do You?

  • Know if absorbents (sawdust, kitty litter and others) contain materials that may be hazardous and require special disposal.
  • Use drip trays and pans to prevent spills.
  • Use squeegees to recover product and cleanup spills.
  • Consider using rags that can be wrung out to recover product.

Shop towels/rags - Do You?

  • Avoid disposable shop rags. Use a shop towel recycling service.
  • Wring out shop towels into an appropriate waste container to reclaim solvents and other products (use proper personal protection i.e.: gloves).
  • Avoid chemicals which may hinder laundering of shop towels (i.e. perchloroethylene and toluene).
  • Keep clean and dirty shop towels in separate well-labeled containers.

Aerosol cans - Do You?

  • Return defective or partially filled cans to supplier instead of throwing in the trash.
  • Use refillable spray canisters and bulk paint instead of multiple spray cans.

Adhere to all WATER QUALITY, AIR QUALITY and ENERGY CONSERVATION recommendations listed in General Housekeeping.

References:


The P2 audit for Agricultural and Vocational Educators was produced by the Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Information Center, funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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