Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Managing the use of solvents

Managing the use of solvents

Managing your solvents efficiently can help you reduce the amount of solvents you use, and help you to consider cheaper alternatives.

To help you manage your solvents, you should:

  • appoint someone to be responsible for how your business reduces and manages solvent use
  • review your business' solvent consumption and emissions - look at where most solvents are used and why, and where the highest emissions are
  • make an inventory of solvent stocks and review your purchasing processes
  • consider ways of reducing solvent use and waste
  • consider using alternatives to solvents
  • prepare and implement an action plan to reduce solvent use, with objectives and measurable targets
  • review your solvent management plan regularly to ensure that it works effectively
  • report on your solvent savings regularly.

Train staff for solvent management

You need support from everyone in your business to ensure your solvent management plan is successful. Any staff responsible for solvent management should be trained in:

  • how to handle, store, use and clean up solvents and solvent-based materials and wastes
  • how to use solvent-related equipment
  • solvent waste management.

Training should include potential cost savings, health and safety implications, the environmental impact of solvents and other benefits such as improved profitability.

Save money by using solvents efficiently

Only buy the quantity of solvents that you need.

Talk to your suppliers about introducing a just-in-time process, where materials are delivered as and when you need them. If you need to hold stock, carry only the minimum necessary and make sure that older materials are used first.

Don't over-order to allow for waste. Reducing the amount of solvent you waste will help you to order more efficiently and save money.

If you use a lot of solvents, buying in bulk can save you money, reduce packaging and waste. Keep records of all solvent purchases, including:

  • how much you bought
  • where you bought it
  • where you store it
  • how much you use for particular jobs
  • how much you return as waste
  • how much you recycle or recover.

Check whether your supplier offers a solvent reclamation service. This can help you to reduce costs when buying solvents. It will also help reduce the volume of solvent you use, if you need to declare your annual use to comply with your pollution prevention and control permit.

Consider using less harmful low-solvent or no-solvent alternatives. Water-based and low-emission materials are now available and can save you money. You should discuss these options with your suppliers and relevant staff.

Check all material deliveries to your site by:

  • reviewing ordering processes to ensure that deliveries match your orders
  • installing a vehicle weighbridge to check bulk deliveries against invoiced quantities
  • checking how much residue is left in solvent delivery containers immediately by comparing the empty container weight with a clean container.

Use an environmental management system

If you have an environmental management system, or plan to implement one, you should use this to manage your solvent use.
Environmental management systems and environmental reports


Further information

 Resource efficiency advice:


In this guideline

What is an organic solvent?

Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Permits for solvent emissions

Why you should monitor your solvent use and emissions

How to monitor your solvent use and emissions

Solvent monitoring plan and solvent emissions data

Managing your solvents efficiently

Reducing solvent use in production and cleaning processes

Recovering and reusing solvents

Storing and using solvents

Solvent limits in paints and varnishes

Solvent limits in vehicle refinishing products

Solvent emissions environmental legislation

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