Mt Gravatt Auto Wreckers (MGAW) is an automotive dismantling business located in the catchment area of Bulimba creek on Brisbane’s south side. It is a medium sized business and has a staff of three. Since taking over the business two years ago, Mark Breeds, the proprietor, has made significant changes towards improving the quality of his workplace.
He was confronted with the problem of implementing an Environmental Management System to a site that had been neglected for years. Mark not only had to deal with a contaminated site, but also with the problem of trying to protect the nearby creek from runoff from his property.
Prior to his arrival, all processes associated with car dismantling were carried out in the open. Oils, grease, coolants and brake fluids were dumped on site. As a result of this, not only was the land contaminated, but the creek was being polluted by contaminated stormwater emanating from his premises.
Driven by the desire to rectify the situation and improve the image of the auto-dismantling industry (traditionally, auto-dismantlers have a reputation for being a dirty business), Mark set about a major cleanup operation. He installed pollution control equipment and redesigned his work area to combat his pollution problem.
First, he bunded and covered the area in which waste oil drums were stored, to prevent spills entering the stormwater system. He also installed a bunded wash down area, which collects liquid waste and directs it to sewage.
He has recently installed a triple interceptor under the tradewaste guidelines which allows waste water, oil and coolants to be diverted to the sewer.
To reduce environmental risks, Mark has put in place a management program which includes:
- frequent collection of used tyres to reduce build up of hazardous waste; and
- training his staff to be environmentally aware.
Implementation of the above measures has resulted in the following benefits:
- enhanced productivity and staff morale resulting from a cleaner and safer work place;
- minimised MGAW’s risk of liability under the EPA;
- a clear conscience for Mark knowing that he has done the right thing; and
- enhanced the image of car dismantlers as a responsible industry providing a useful recycling service to the community .
Mark is in the process of having a drip-tray built to collect coolant, and is investigating the possibility of using oil hazard matting to trap oil spills underneath car bodies, thus preventing contamination of the stormwater system.
As the environmental performance of MGAW goes from below standard to compliance, and beyond compliance to best practice, it is apparent that even traditionally 'dirty businesses' can clean up their act as long as there is a commitment to change, and appropriate strategies are implemented.