Automotive: repair, body shops and salvage

Reducing VOC emissions from auto body repair shops

Air emissions


The very smallest body shops may qualify as insignificant facilities, which do not need a permit.

Body shops that use less than 2000 gallons of coatings and cleaners per year may qualify to operate without an air permit if they follow certain requirements.

Most body shops will qualify for an PDF icon Air Emission Registration Permit. Use this calculator to determine potential and actual emissions from painting: File Air emissions calculator: Coating operations (p-sbap5-22). Application forms are on the air permit and forms page.


Even if your body shop has an air permit – or doesn't need one – you may need to meet the additional requirements of National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP).

Vehicle air conditioner servicing and disposal

Businesses that service and dispose of motor vehicle air conditioners must have certified technicians, use proper refrigerant recovery or recycling equipment, and keep records. Learn more.

Air regulation due dates

Requirement Due date
Emission inventory fee for previous year Mailed to permit holders in March, due within 60 days
Emission inventory April 1
Corrections to emission inventory Mailed to permit holders in November, due within 45 days
Microsoft Office document icon 6H-01: Initial Notification and Compliance Forms - Paint Stripping and Misc. Surface Coating Operations (NESHAP Subpart HHHHHH) Due 180 days after startup and by March 1 of the next year

Hazardous waste

You need a hazardous waste license if your business produces any amount of hazardous waste. Facilities in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, or Washington County are licensed and inspected by their county. Facilities in greater Minnesota are licensed and inspected by the MPCA. If you produce only small amounts of hazardous waste, you probably qualify to bring the wastes to PDF icon Very small quantity generators collection programs (w-hw2-51). See the Hazardous waste documents and forms page for information on managing specific types of hazardous waste, such as:

  • Antifreeze
  • Lead-acid batteries
  • Scrap metal, catalytic converters, and wheel weights
  • Fuel and oil wastes
  • Paint booth filters
  • Solvents
  • Waste tires
  • Towels, wipes, and sorbents


Annual hazardous waste training is required for large quantity generators (2,200+ pounds a month) and small quantity generators (220 to 2,200 pounds a month), and recommended for very small quantity generators (less than 220 pounds a month). Free training is available from the MPCA and some metro-area counties:

Hazardous waste due dates

Requirement Due date

Hazardous waste generators fee

Mailed to license holders in first quarter, due date on invoice
License application Due August 1 for Greater Minnesota businesses;
Twin Cities metro businesses: contact your county


Auto salvage yards in Minnesota may require coverage under the MPCA's industrial stormwater general permit. Learn about pollution prevention at salvage yards:

Local regulation

Be sure to check with your county, city, and township to see if they have any additional requirements.

Compliance audit checklists

Other resources

Beyond compliance


Reducing automotive wastes can save money and time, reduce regulatory obligations, and benefit the environment and worker health.

  • Don’t get stuck with expensive-to-dispose-of ‘unknowns’: keep manufacturer labels protected; label and date transfer containers or applicators; rotate stock to avoid expired or obsolete products; only accept samples you know you can use.
  • Use refillable aerosols or spray pumps and buy in bulk. You’ll save storage space and money by reducing disposable container waste.
  • Use a squeegee and plastic dustpan as a first step when cleaning up shop oil spills. Most of the oil will come off the floor and can go directly into your used oil container. The use of absorbents and the cost of their disposal will be greatly reduced.
  • Switch to a water-based parts washer (aqueous) instead of a solvent-based one. Switching to an aqueous washer can yield a less than two-year payback when reduced purchasing and disposal costs are considered, as well as being better for employee safety. If you must use solvent, on-site distillation can provide cost and environmental savings over disposal: HTML icon Aqueous parts washers for small operations (MnTAP)
  • Use two bins (“dirty” and “clean”) for parts washing to reduce disposal costs up to 50%.
  • Install recycling equipment for petroleum-based solvents and parts cleaners
  • Waste Reduction in Vehicle Maintenance Facilities (MnTAP)


White shelves holding white plastic containers of automotive paint organized by color.

  • Keep painters and paint booth floors, lights, and filters clean to minimize flaws and reduce unnecessary rework.
  • Have your painters attend refresher training annually – technique affects transfer efficiency, and that impacts your bottom line. Many painters only achieve about 50% transfer efficiency, meaning half of all the paint you buy is being wasted.
  • Replace spray guns, cleaning equipment, etc., with equipment that has better transfer efficiency (e.g., HVLP or electrostatic spray guns). Less overspray means less waste.
  • Consider switching to waterborne paints. There are fewer emissions, reduced worker exposure, and a potential reduction in regulatory requirements.
  • More information on painting equipment and techniques at the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) at the University of Minnesota.
  • Paints and Coatings Resource Center

Compressor efficiency

Easy ways to reduce compressor energy use:

  • Decrease the pressure. You can reduce compressor energy use by 1% for every 2 PSI reduction in pressure.
  • Bring cool, outside air into the compressor space. You can reduce energy use by 1% for each 5 degree F reduction in temperature.
  • Reuse the heat. Since 80% of air compressor energy is lost as heat, circulating waste heat for shop comfort in the winter makes good sense and can save you money.
  • More compressor tips from MnTAP or Compressed Air Challenge

See the Beyond compliance page for more information on reducing waste and saving money in your business.


For auto salvage yards