A wasted opportunity

Aftermarket check out the do's and don'ts with regards to your waste disposal

Published:  07 February, 2014

All businesses create waste and it's increasingly important you deal with it correctly because of the legal aspects and the fact that customers expect their local garage to be a tidy environment to visit. Also, by getting rid of your waste in the right way, you could also get a bit of cash back.

Waste falls into two basic categories, non-hazardous and hazardous. It's the hazardous stuff we need to look at more closely as it's here that many workshops fall foul of the law, albeit unintentionally.

Regulations are managed by the Environment Agency and a very good guide giving advice on all aspects of hazardous waste can be found on its website under 'hazardous waste'. However, it might be easier to understand if you seek help from a waste management company which will have a vested interest in you.

One of the big players in the workshop market is OSS Group and its Chief Operating Officer, Mark Olpin says that the main problem with garages breaking the law is with storage, Olpin says: "It's illegal to mix hazardous wastes. Oils, filters, contaminated fuel, batteries, solvents, thinners, oily rags, aerosols and even fluorescent light tubes are all hazardous waste."

"It is illegal to mix antifreeze with brake fluid and keep it in the same drum. This applies to all hazardous waste types. They must be stored separately, safely and securely on your premises in the correct type of container and disposed of correctly and in the right place.

Be warned, it may be unlikely but the Environment Agency do make random checks and on-the-spot fines do happen. In a really bad case you could end up with a prison sentence. The EA is also on the trail of waste companies operating illegally and if that very low cost company that collects your waste isn't registered and is not following correct collection and disposal procedures, you too are in trouble.

"Once it has left your premises," says Mark Olpin, "it doesn't mean you can forget it. Under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act you have a duty of care. This means that you, the producer of the waste, is responsible for that waste until it is correctly disposed of or recycled. If your waste collection company is not doing the right thing it's also your neck on the block." A consignment note should be completed whenever waste is collected from your premises, this must be kept safe for any inspection.

Apart from the legal aspects, badly managed waste can have a negative effect on customers. If your workshop is a mess with waste piling up and dirty old drums and boxes full of oily filters and rags, then the probability is that you haven't got the right waste management company working for you. Worse still, it looks awful and your customers may well think your mechanical skills could also be questionable. An item on the bill for 'environmental costs' is likely to be challenged!

One of your main storage requirements will be for waste oil and these containers must be correctly bunded to avoid pollution in case of leaking. Oil drums need to be on a drip tray capable of holding 25% of the drum's capacity. If you have a tank, its bund system must hold 110% of the tank's capacity.

One of your main storage requirements will be for waste oil and these containers must be correctly bunded to avoid pollution in case of leaking. Oil drums need to be on a drip tray capable of holding 25% of the drum's capacity. If you have a tank, its bund system must hold 110% of the tank's capacity.

Mark continues, "With help it's not that difficult to get it right these days and you can actually get a financial return on some of your waste to help reduce your disposal costs. Waste oil is a sought after commodity. The OSS Group is the biggest waste oil collection company in the UK and we recycle this to produce a fuel for industrial use. Subject to quality and quantity, we will offer a rebate on waste oil which can offset your costs for disposal of other waste types."

Scale is also a consideration. If all your waste and associated activities are being looked after by one company it saves you time and, especially after a bit of negotiation, you can benefit from lower costs all round. Consider spill kits and wipes, interceptor cleaning, parts washers and used tyre collection.

All workshops, regardless of size, should apply a good waste management approach, even if only to stay within the law. The easiest way is simply to get a waste management company to do it all for you, including the paperwork. They will assess individual requirements, create a programme and then collect as required. They should also ensure that your workshop is operating within the law.

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