Hazardous Free - BodyShop Business

Hazardous Free

Dave Humes, owner of Humes Collision Center in Hermantown, Minn., made some changes in his shop that he'd reduce his hazardous waste by 60 percent.

Name: Humes
Collision Center, Inc.

Hermantown, Minn.

Owner: Dave

Established: 1992

Square Footage:
9,000 square feet

Number of Employees:

Repair Volume:
60 cars per month

Average Repair Ticket:

Who would’ve thought that when Dave Humes,
owner of Humes Collision Center in Hermantown, Minn., made some
changes in his shop that he’d reduce his hazardous waste by 60
percent – and save himself approximately $34,000 a year?

Humes, that’s who.

Through careful planning and thought, Humes
utilized certain types of equipment and services to save money,
reduce his waste and increase worker safety.

Environmentally Conscience

Humes constructed a new facility in 1992 and
designed it to be efficient and to minimize the amount of wastes
produced. To accomplish these goals, a variety of waste-reduction
measures and new equipment were implemented.

During the summer of 1993, a chemical engineering
student from the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) worked with
Humes Collision to determine and document the actual cost savings
and the total amount of wastes reduced as a result of the changes.
The intern found that, compared to the amount of waste generated at the old facility, the waste-reduction
measures and new equipment at the new facility had reduced hazardous-waste
output by 60 percent. This percentage was determined by comparing
the average amount of materials used and wastes produced at the
old shop with the amount of materials used and wastes produced
during the first months of operation at the new shop.

Incentives and Measures

What motivated Humes to reduce the amount
of waste generated at his new shop? Reduced waste-disposal costs,
reduced regulatory burdens, compliance, increased operating efficiency
and increased profits.

According to Mary Housey, shop manager, "the
knowledge gained on what was required and by knowing what to do
[was the biggest benefit]. … We were able to look at different
ways of reducing wastes."

To accomplish its waste-reduction goals, Humes
Collision Center installed specialized equipment and imple-mented
operating procedures that reduced waste. These included:

  • Refrigerant Recycling – Refrigerants for automobile
    air-conditioning systems cost $10 per pound in 1993, and they
    continue to increase in cost every year. In addition, these refrigerants
    are for sale only to licensed operators. For these reasons, Humes
    purchased an RTI refrigerant recycling unit, at a cost of $2,975,
    to reduce the amount of refrigerants purchased. Humes uses it
    for an average of one job per day, recovering and recycling between
    two and two-and-one-half pounds of refrigerant daily. This recycling
    unit prevents refrigerants from escaping into the air and reclaims
    enough refrigerant to reduce purchase costs by $5,900 per year.

  • Antifreeze Recycling – Humes uses a mobile recycling
    service provided by the Coolant Recovery Company of Minneapolis.
    This service costs $15 for the initial deposit followed by a purchase
    cost of $1.35 per gallon for the recycled 50150 water/antifreeze
    mixture. By recycling the used antifreeze, Humes purchases smaller
    amounts of new antifreeze, thereby reducing costs. Recycling used
    antifreeze also eliminates antifreeze waste.
  • Vacuum Sanding System – Humes purchased a contained
    vacuum sanding system, made by U.S. Turbine Corporation, at a
    cost of $9,000 (which included the installation cost). The sanding
    system consists of a vacuum pump connected to a hose at each workstation
    and a sanding head attached to each hose. During the sanding process,
    the dust is pumped out and collected in a sealed container outside
    the shop. The sanding dust was tested as nonhazardous and is disposed
    of as nonhazardous solid waste. The new, contained sanding system
    prevents sanding dust from being emitted into the shop and has
    greatly reduced employee labor costs for cleaning dust off cars.
    In fact, having to redo work because of dust damage has almost
    been eliminated. In addition, air filters are changed less frequently,
    and the amount of sandpaper used has been reduced.

Since it started using the vacuum sanding system, Humes has realized
an estimated cost savings of $7,300 per year, primarily from reduced
labor costs (costs of maintenance or replacement parts is not
part of this figure).

  • Overspray Masking Liquid – Humes uses 3M Overspray
    Masking Liquid as an alternative to plastic car bags for protecting
    cars during painting. The masking liquid is sprayed only onto
    the area of a car that needs to be protected during painting,
    instead of covering the entire car. This liquid can be applied
    by one person and with the same spraying equipment used for painting
    cars. The liquid is removed with water (no detergent needed),
    and then is disposed of with the shop’s wastewater. Humes uses
    one 16-gallon drum of masking liquid every three months at a cost
    of $232.80 per drum. By using this liquid instead of the plastic
    car bags, the cost per car has reduced from $3.50 to $1.90, resulting
    in cost savings of $1,900 per year in reduced bag purchasing costs.
    Eliminating the plastic car bags has also reduced the amount of
    solid waste generated by the shop.
  • Spray and Bake Booth – The Nova Verta spray and bake
    booth installed at Humes is a completely sealed downdraft booth
    with a water-ash filtration system in the floor. This filtration
    system allows proper air flow to prevent the booth from becoming
    pressurized, and it also eliminates the need to dispose of hazardous-waste
    paint filters. The booth has a very accurate temperature control
    system that has eliminated uneven drying and has enhanced the
    quality of the paint finishes.

  • Computerized Paint Mixing – A computerized paint-mixing
    system made by DuPont was purchased by Humes to replace an older
    microfiche system used at the old shop. The new computerized system
    can break down a paint formula to 1/16 of a pint, while the old
    microfiche system could break down a formula only to the nearest
    pint. Humes uses less paint with the new system, which has reduced
    the average paint cost for each car from $36 to $16 and also reduced
    the amount of paint waste generated. Based on painting 10 cars
    per week, Humes is using 50 percent less paint and is saving $10,000
    per year on reduced paint purchase costs. The computerized system
    cost $7,000 to purchase and install.

  • Gunwasher – Humes installed a new Uni-ram Cascade gunwasher
    for cleaning spray-painting equipment, which replaced the old
    system of cleaning equipment by hand. The gunwasher holds 7.5
    gallons of solvent, and 5 gallons of replacement solvent are added
    every two months. By using the gunwasher instead of cleaning by
    hand, Humes uses significantly less solvent for cleanup and has
    greatly reduced labor costs – paint guns are cleaned much faster
    with the gunwasher. Savings from reduced labor and solvent costs
    are estimated at $7,600 per year, and the cost to purchase the
    gunwasher was $1,300.
  • Distillation Unit – Humes uses a Paulee brand distillation
    unit to reclaim solvent used in the spray gun cleaning process.
    The still reclaims approximately 100 gallons of solvent annually,
    which is reused in the gunwasher. By reducing solvent waste and
    the amount of new solvent purchased, Humes realizes an annual
    cost savings of $1,300. The initial purchase cost of the still
    was $3,300.

A Happy, Hazardous-Free Ending

Was the end result worth the time and the $23,400 Humes spent
to purchase equipment and implement procedures?

No doubt about it.

Implementing these waste-reduction measures has saved – and will

continue to save – the shop an estimated $34,000 in operating
costs annually. Humes made back the money he spent in under one

"It’s worth it to learn what you’re supposed to be doing,"
says Housey. "And knowledge is power."

This article contains material from the "MnTAP Case Study:
Autobody Repair Shop Waste Reduction Measures," published
by the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP), which helps
businesses to properly manage and reduce wastes.

A Closer Look

Here’s how Humes reduced his hazardous waste and saved himself
a lot of money:

Waste stream/chemical:

Paint, solvent and sludge, antifreeze, sanding dust and refrigerant.

Waste-reducing changes:

Installed refrigerant-recycling equipment, a vacuum sanding system,
water-wash spray and bake booth, computerized paint-mixing system,
gunwasher and a distillation unit. Replaced protective tape and
paper with an overspray masking liquid. Also uses a mobile antifreeze
recycling service.


  • $7,000 for a computerized paint-mixing system;
  • $1,300 for a gunwasher;
  • $3,300 for a solvent-distillation unit;
  • $2,800 for a refrigerant-recovery unit;
  • $9,000 for a vacuum sanding system;
  • Spent $23,400 total.

Savings/other benefits:

  • Reduced 60 percent of hazardous wastes;
  • Saved approximately $34,000 in reduced costs (costs of maintenance
    or replacement parts is not a part of the total estimated savings);

  • Increased worker safety by reducing exposure to hazardous


The project of documenting waste reduction at Humes Collision
Center was funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency through
a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part
of the Lake Superior Hazardous Waste Initiative during the summer
of 1993. Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) was a
subcontractor on this project. The Minnesota Office of Waste Management’s
MnTAP program is supported with a grant to the School of Public
Health, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health, at
the University of Minnesota.

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