Pat Quinn, Governor
Managing and Reducing Parts Washer Wastes
Information presented in this publication is intended to provide a general understanding of the statutory and regulatory requirements governing parts washing. This information is not intended to replace, limit or expand upon the complete statutory and regulatory requirements found in the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and Title 35 of the Illinois Administrative Code.
What is a parts washer?
Parts washers are commonly used in manufacturing or maintenance operations to clean parts or components. Parts washers include cold cleaning units, vapor degreasers and conveyorized degreasers. Cleaning solutions used in parts washers include:
Why are parts washers a concern?
Parts washers use cleaning solutions that eventually become spent and must be disposed of. Spent parts washer cleaning solutions are considered a special waste in Illinois because they may be hazardous and are an industrial process waste. The fact sheet "Do I Have a Special Waste?" explains special wastes in Illinois. In addition, parts washers generate other wastes such as rags, filters, and sludge. This fact sheet will help you properly manage your parts washer wastes, comply with regulations applicable to parts washers, and reduce wastes generated.
What are my hazardous waste regulation requirements?
Is my spent parts washer cleaning solution a hazardous waste?
Spent parts washer cleaning solution is hazardous if one or more of the following applies:
Spent solvents are almost always a hazardous waste. Most commonly used solvents have flashpoints below 140ºF, making them highly ignitable. A spent solvent can also be a hazardous waste listed on the Illinois EPA hazardous waste list, which means that it contains organic solvents that have been identified as being hazardous by the Illinois EPA. The wastes include solvents such as tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone, and benzene. Spent solvents are also usually hazardous because they contain toxic metals such as chromium and lead from parts and equipment cleaned in the parts washer.
Although most aqueous cleaners are nonflammable and nontoxic when purchased, they can qualify as hazardous waste after extended use because they may contain toxic metals from the parts and equipment cleaned in the parts washer. Spent aqueous cleaners can also be hazardous for corrosivity if the pH is less than 2 or greater than 12.5. Spent aqueous cleaning solutions may also be hazardous if they are contaminated with listed hazardous solvents or other toxic organic compounds applied to parts before washing, such as from aerosol sprays. For more information on listed hazardous solvents, toxic metals, and toxic organic compounds, contact the Illinois EPA Office of Small Business (Office of Small Business).
Are my other parts washing wastes hazardous?
Both solvent and aqueous parts washers generate sludge, which is usually hazardous because it contains toxic metals and solvents from the parts cleaned. Rags used to wipe parts off after being washed are also hazardous if they contain toxic metals at concentrations exceeding regulatory limits or listed hazardous solvents.
Many parts washers use filters that must be periodically changed. You need to determine if your used filters are hazardous by using the same process you used to determine if your solvent is hazardous.
The skimmed oil may contain hazardous waste. However, you may still be able to manage it as used oil. The fact sheet titled "How Do I Manage My Used Oil?" explains used oil mixtures.
What if I can’t determine if my parts washer wastes are hazardous or nonhazardous?
If you cannot determine if your spent cleaning solution or other parts washing
wastes are hazardous, you need to have them analyzed for ignitability, pH, listed
hazardous solvents, toxic metals, and toxic organics. The fact sheet titled
"Do I Have a Special Waste?" describes how you determine if you generate
hazardous wastes. Contact the Office of Small Business for more information
on classifying your wastes.
What are my waste management requirements?
If your parts washing wastes are hazardous, the following requirements apply:
If your wastes are nonhazardous, the following requirements apply:
The fact sheet titled "How Do I Manage My Hazardous Waste?" explains how to determine the type of hazardous waste generator you are and which general hazardous waste requirements apply to you.
If you lease your parts washer, the service company may offer a service where they will pick up the cleaning solution or solvent when it is spent. Regardless, you are considered the generator of the solid waste and must manage the waste properly.
Is my business affected by water regulations?
Nonhazardous spent aqueous cleaning solutions can be discharged to the city sewer if they meet local discharge limits or with permission from the local publicly owned treatment works (POTW). The POTW may require you to treat your cleaning solution before discharging to the sewer. Contact your local POTW to find out their requirements. The discharge of cleaning solutions to the sanitary sewer also requires a permit from Illinois EPA. Spent parts washer cleaners, both solvents and aqueous cleaners, should never be discharged to a septic system or storm water sewer. For more information on permits and other water regulations that apply to your business, contact the Office of Small Business.
What do I need to know about air regulations?
All cold-cleaning, open-top vapor degreasing, and conveyorized degreasing operations that use organic solvents must meet organic material emissions standards and limitations set forth by the Illinois EPA. These requirements are related to operating procedures, equipment limitations, material specifications, and recordkeeping requirements and will vary depending on where your business is located in Illinois.
The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) Halogenated Solvent Cleaning rule applies to facilities in Illinois that use one or more of the following four types of cleaning equipment, and one or more of the halogenated solvents listed in Table 1 at a concentration exceeding 5 percent in solution:
If your business uses one of the halogenated solvents in Table 1, permitting, work practice, control, performance testing, and reporting requirements may apply to your business under the NESHAP rule. For more information on air regulations and how they apply to your business, contact the Illinois EPA Office of Small Business.
Solvents used in cold cleaning operations in the Chicago and Metro-East St. Louis ozone non-attainment zones must meet solvent vapor pressure requirements developed by the Illinois EPA. These requirements limit the solvent vapor pressure to 2.0 millimeters (mm) of mercury. Beginning March 15, 2001, the solvent vapor pressure limit will be reduced to 1.0 mm of mercury. The vapor pressure must be measured at 20ºC or 68ºF. The sale of solvents used for cold cleaning in these areas of Illinois is restricted to products that meet these requirements and requires the seller and the purchaser to keep records of the solvent purchase for three years. Contact the Illinois Office of Small Business for more information on cold cleaning solvent requirements and exemptions.
What are some good management tips for my parts washing system?
The suggestions below for using less hazardous parts washer cleaning solutions and maximizing the solution’s life are important pollution prevention measures. In addition to environmental protection, pollution prevention can reduce operating costs, protect employees, and improve efficiency.
Use the least hazardous cleaning solution in your parts washer:
Reduce wastes by maximizing your solution life:
How do I obtain more information?
For more information on parts washers, hazardous waste, water and air regulations and pollution prevention tips call the Office of Small Business Helpline toll-free at (888) EPA-1996 or the DCCA Small Business Environmental Assistance Helpline at (800) 252-3998. All calls are considered confidential and the caller can remain anonymous.
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