Bignell Panel Repairs Pty Ltd (BPR) is a medium sized paint and panel shop employing 10 staff.
In the paint and panel industry, paint dust has always been a problem. It not only impairs the quality of the paint finish but also causes environmental and health problems. Dust contains heavy metals and toxins which cause respiratory illnesses. It is easily entrained in the stormwater system causing pollution of our waterways. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are also contained in solvents used for spray painting, and can be discharged to the atmosphere during small touchups conducted outside the spray booth.
In the past, paint and panel shops would be hosed out regularly to remove any dust. Vehicles were also 'wet sanded' using waterproof abrasive paper and a water supply, such as a hose or a bucket and sponge, to contain the dust.
EPA legislation has now made it illegal to discharge this water into the stormwater system because of the contaminants it contains. The industry uses a large volume of water with consequent high trade waste costs. When the user-pay system is introduced, water supply costs will also rise substantially.
Another problem is that paint touch-ups conducted outside the spray booth do not allow for any treatment of vapours.
Traditionally, any dry sanding would produce too much dust that would spread around the shop. BPR have designed and installed a sanding area with a downdraught floor that sucks dust through a filter system in the floor. It can also be used for wet sanding and small touch-ups.
Implementation of the project has resulted in the following outcomes:
- less water being used;
- water can be recycled;
- dust contained within the workshop;
- stormwater not contaminated; and
- improved health and safety of workers.
The sponsors are willing to test alternative technologies as they come on the market, and have to date used high volume low pressure (HVLP) spray guns with an encouraging 20 per cent savings in paint usage, though at a slight decline in paint gloss at this initial stage.
BPR has also installed a spray gun cleaning cabinet which cleans guns, recycles thinners and reduces VOC emissions to the atmosphere.
Other areas looked at include the reduction of landfill wastes through product substitution, reuse and recycling.