Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Recovering and reusing solvents

Recover and re-use your solvents

It can often be cost-effective to reuse solvents instead of disposing of them. If you can't do this with the solvents you use, talk to your suppliers, your trade association or similar businesses to yours to discuss alternative products. See the page in this guideline: Managing your solvents efficiently.

You can improve your solvent recovery rate by:

  • keeping solvent residues separate to avoid cross-contamination
  • pre-cleaning products to be treated with solvent, so they are free from contaminants which can cause sludge
  • matching cleaning solvents to those used in product formulations to prevent contamination.

Depending on the products you use, you may be able to use distillation equipment to recover solvents, or use solvent capture and recovery. This can cut the costs of your materials, waste storage and disposal. If this isn't possible, you may be able to find an organisation that recovers used solvents and solvent-based wastes.

Procedures that will help you recover solvents include:

  • separating solvents from other wastes
  • designing solvent mixes to be attractive to recovery specialists
  • storing waste solvents in a secure location - see the page in this guideline: Storing and using solvents
  • making sure waste containers are sealed and in good condition
  • keeping spare clean containers so that you can transfer waste solvent from damaged containers
  • considering using bulk tanks rather than drums
  • labelling waste properly using waterproof labels
  • ensuring waste solvents are removed from site regularly
  • keeping records and consignment notes for all waste solvents or solvent-contaminated materials that you keep on site and transfer off site.

Further information

WRAP Northern Ireland/Zero Waste Scotland Helpline: 0808 100 2040

Hazardous/special waste

In this guideline

What are organic solvents

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

Using your 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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