Reducing VOC emissions from your business

Reducing VOC emissions from auto body repair shopsProblem: VOCs = Smog = Bad air

VOCs come from industrial and commercial processes all around us. You may recognize them as the solvent-like fumes coming from materials like coatings, inks, solvents, adhesives, gasoline, and other chemicals used in everyday commerce. VOCs can be reduced by making changes to manufacturing processes and heating equipment, and through facility-wide opportunities such as purchasing safer products.

Reducing VOC emissions has benefits!

Reducing VOCs has positive health impacts for your employees, the general population, and potentially your bottom line. The reductions can help you:

  • Saves money by reducing regulatory fees
  • Healthier air for employees and your community
  • Smells better
  • Less PPE
  • Better for business
  • Usually a superior product or process

 

21 small businesses have received $660,000 in grants to reduce VOCs, equal to 16,000 spray paint cans a year. Where's the money?

Are you a small business interested in reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) throughout your facilities? Grants to help you reduce VOCs will be available soon. Sign up for the newsletter or visit this website to stay tuned.

Find out more on MPCA's Grants to improve air quality.

Auto body shops / Industrial coaters: Reduce VOCs

  • ElectroStatic paint gunSwitch to waterborne or powder coating paint system
  • Replace spray guns, cleaning equipment, etc., with equipment that has better transfer efficiency (e.g., electrostatic guns)
  • Install recycling equipment for petroleum-based solvents and parts cleaners
  • Work with your supplier to purchase alternative solvents
  • Consider purchasing efficient vehicles for your fleet
  • Evaluate energy efficiency options in your business (e.g., electronics, lighting, heating/cooling systems)
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled by using public transit or other alternative commuting options

For more specific ideas and to find auto refinishing events that focus on reducing VOCs visit the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program

Dry cleanerDry cleaners: Reduce VOCs

Change cleaning technologies

  • GreenEarth is liquid silicone-based
  • Wet cleaning uses only water-based and alternative solutions and systems

Benefits

  • Save money by reducing regulatory requirements and lowering hazardous waste fees
  • Reduced employee health risks associated 
with exposure to perchloroethylene (perc)
  • Increased business with advertisement of 
“green” dry cleaning

Capital costs

  • Wet cleaning machine: $12,000-$37,000 
(30-50 lb. capacity)
  • Finishing equipment: similar to traditional 
equipment, approximately $6,000-$12,000
  • Training employees to use new equipment 
and procedures

Upgrade equipment

  • Carbon adsorption units: May be added to refrigerated dry-to-dry machines to achieve greater perc recovery. The old carbon adsorbers, or sniffers, required a high level of maintenance. New carbon units, which desorb with heat after refrigeration, are less costly to operate and do not produce large quantities of contact water from steam use. Carbon adsorbers may be required to meet the NESHAP standards.

Other ways to cut emissions

  • Source lower VOC products and supplies for use around the building (paint, adhesives, carpet, furniture, etc.)
  • Purchase efficient vehicles for your fleet
  • Implement energy-efficient options in your business (e.g., electronics, lighting, heating/cooling systems)
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled by using public transit or other options at your business
  • Encourage employees to use alternative commuting options
  • Reduce use of lawn maintenance equipment with alternative landscaping techniques
  • Purchase lower VOC cleaning solutions for general maintenance cleaning
  • Purchasing paper products with higher recycled content indirectly reduces VOC emissions

Printers: Reduce VOCs

Chemical alternatives

  • Most VOCs come from solvents to clean presses and use in parts washers. Work with your supplier to switch to cleaning solvents with the lowest VOC content or vapor pressure possible (<10 mmHg or above 140 degree flashpoint).
  • Use inks, coatings, and adhesives with the lowest VOC content possible.
  • Reduce the concentration of VOC-containing additives when using alcohol substitutes.
  • Institute a three-stage cleaning process.
  • Switch to digital print presses.
  • Look at solvent recycling systems for petroleum-based solvents and parts cleaners
  • Explore lower VOC cleaning solutions for general (non-press) cleaning.

Other ways to cut emissions

  • Purchase more efficient vehicles for your fleet
  • Reduced use of lawn maintenance equipment with alternative landscaping techniques.
  • Evaluate energy efficiency options in your business (e.g., electronics, lighting, heating/cooling systems)
  • Purchase fuel efficient vehicles or aim for reduced vehicles miles traveled by carpooling and other alternative commuter options.
  • Source lower VOC products and supplies for use around the building (paint, adhesives, carpet, furniture, etc)
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled by using public transit or other options at your business
  • Encourage employees to use alternative commuting options
  • Reduce use of lawn maintenance equipment with alternative landscaping techniques
  • Purchasing paper products with higher recycled content indirectly reduces VOC emissions

Case study: Clear Lake Press goes green

Clear Lake Press, a national printer in Waseca, has all but eliminated hazardous chemicals, making work safer for employees and the environment by switching to vegetable and water-based cleaners and fluid in their parts washer, reducing paper consumption by 40 rolls each month, and reusing their pallets. As a result, Clear Lake Press has:

  • Saved money by buying less paper and lowering its hazardous waste license fees
  • Reduced VOCs by 92%
  • Eliminated 1,560 pounds of hazardous parts cleaner
  • Reduced paper waste from 13.6% to 5.1%

PIM: Technical help is available!

If you would like help figuring out how your printing business can reduce VOC emissions, the Printing Industry Midwest Great Printer Program is available to help you!
Paul Gutkowski   |   paulg@pimw.org   |   651-789-5505 

Worker filling an underground storage tank at a gas stationGas stations: Reduce VOCs

Stage 1 vapor recovery

Stage I vapor recovery captures vapors, known as volatile organic compounds  (VOCs), released when gas is put into the underground storage tank. The vapors are returned to the truck instead of being released into the air.

Benefits

  • Limits the escape of VOCs that contribute to air pollution
  • Improves employee and customer health
  • Positive publicity for your business

There are two kinds of Stage I systems: Single point (coaxial) and dual point.

Single point (Coaxial) systems have one tank opening that transfers both fuel and vapors. This is usually accomplished by installing a 3-inch diameter drop tube inside the 4-inch fill pipe, creating a gap between the drop tube and the fill pipe that vapors can pass through.

Dual point systems use two separate tank openings for delivery and vapor recovery. The first is the fill-port drop tube where a hose from the tanker transfers fuel to the storage tank. The vapor recovery port is called a “dry break” (commonly painted orange) and it consists of a riser and a spring-loaded poppet valve. During fuel delivery, a vapor recovery device is attached to the dry break which automatically opens the poppet valve. The vapor return hose routes the vapors from the tank through the dry break and back to the tanker.

PDF icon Stage 1 Vapor Recovery Vendors: Certified contractors list (aq7-02)

Other vapor reduction options

Dripless nozzles

Can reduce drips or spillage up to 60%

Low-permeability hoses at the pump

  • Similar cost to other gasoline dispensing hoses
  • Potential to reduce emissions at the hose up to 96%

Equipment needed

  • Coaxial drop tube or a fill-pipe drop tube (for two-point systems) extending within 6 inches of the bottom of each tank to ensure that the drop-tube opening is submerged when the tank is filled
  • Tight-fitting fill cap for each fill pipe
  • For two-point systems, a properly functioning dry break (poppet valve) that seals the vapor return line when not in use
  • Pressure/vacuum valves on the tank vent lines to prevent emission of gasoline vapors from the tank

Technical help is available!

If you would like help figuring out how your business can reduce VOC emissions, the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program is available to help you!
www.mntap.umn.edu   |   612-624-1300

For more information

For more information on the project or to hear about what other businesses have done to reduce VOCs, contact:
Kari Canteraro kari.cantarero@state.mn.us or 651-757-2875

Español?

Para mayor información en español, contactarse con Ned Brooks por teléfono al 651-757-2557 o Ned.Brooks@state.mn.us