Called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), these chemicals are used for a variety of tasks from cleaning parts to painting. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has been working to reduce the amount of VOCs in the environment, and it recently began a program offering alternative products and equipment to help auto shop owners and operators.
Grants were provided to three area auto shops, including Dan Loock’s Automotive and Uptown Auto Care in Redwood Falls, as well as Jenniges Gas and Diesel in Wabasso.
Through this grant program, the local shops were able to acquire equipment, including new parts washers and solvent recyclers. More than $13,000 in equipment was provided to them through the MPCA program. The grant dollars were offered through MPCA to businesses, such as auto shops, print shops, gas stations and dry cleaners, to help them take steps to help reduce VOCs which are often emitted through processes used in the businesses.
For Dan Loock of Loock’s Automotive, Brad Franklin of Uptown Auto Care and Rick Jenniges of Jenniges Gas and Diesel, the information was provided to them through another business owner — Lowell Peterson of NAPA in Redwood Falls.
“Lowell told me about it,” said Loock, adding after learning about the grant program from Peterson he did some additional research.
As a result, Loock received two pieces of equipment, including a new parts washer and a solvent recycler. Franklin was able to acquire a new parts washer, with Jenniges able to bring a parts washer and solvent recycler to his shop.
According to Jenniges, the solvent recycler allows for the separation of paint, dirt and other material from the solvent used to remove them. That way, he added, the solvent can be used again, which he said means saving money and doing something good for the environment.
“The solvent we use is expensive,” he said, adding the chance to reuse that solvent through the process is definitely paying off.
For Franklin, having the new parts washer has several benefits, including cost savings, as well as the fact that reusing the cleaning material means using less. That, he said, is definitely good for the environment.
The solvent used in the new parts washers at all three locations is a more environmentally friendly product, and, according to Franklin, is much less toxic.
“When you are working with solvents it is hard on the hands,” he said. “They get dried out fast, especially in the winter.”
Loock said he knows over time the solvents being used are going to have to be replaced, but just being able to use them more than once is going to be a lot better in the long run.
“These pieces of equipment are not cheap,” said Loock. “Having the state help pay for them means getting something that would not have been in my budget.”
According to Franklin, the MPCA covered 90 percent of the cost, with the business owners picking up the other 10 percent. He added there is some paperwork they are required to do to demonstrate the difference the new equipment is making.
Even though he has only had the equipment for about a month, Franklin said he is confident it will be better for his business.
“I was skeptical at first,” said Loock. “After all, the products we’d been using worked.” Now, however, he is sold on the new products being used.
Find more about grant programs like this on the MPCA website at www.pca.state.mn.us.
Reprinted with permission of Troy Krause and the Redwood Falls Gazette