Aqueous cleaners offer an effective and safer clean than solvents by using heat, agitation, and detergent instead of harsh or toxic chemicals. Businesses that utilize aqueous cleaning methods do not expose their workers to unsafe working conditions. They also realize cost savings in the long run.
Aqueous parts washers do use cleaning products, however, and those cleaning products must be changed out periodically. The aqueous cleaning waste byproducts must be disposed of safely as well. What do businesses have to consider when they dispose of the wastewater from an aqueous parts washer?
Laws Regarding Aqueous Cleaning Waste
Local laws about waste disposal, including wastewater disposal, vary considerably, so every business will have to do some research about wastewater disposal. There are some things that every business should bear in mind, however. They are:
- The disposal of parts washer solutions into drywells, onsite septic systems, storm drains, or onto the ground is illegal. Never do this. In some areas, municipal sewer systems allow for disposal of aqueous solutions with permission from the sewer utility. Always contact your municipal wastewater utility before disposing of wastewater this way.
- Do not dispose of industrial waste into onsite septic systems. Not only is this illegal, but it can contaminate your system or your drain field requiring costly maintenance of the system or its complete replacement.
- Aqueous solutions may be evaporated since most of them do not contain VOCs. Evaporation leaves a much smaller amount of sludge to dispose of.
- After evaporation, the remaining sludge, which often contains toxic heavy metals and solvents, is considered hazardous waste. Skimmed oil sludge and solution filters must also be considered hazardous waste depending on testing results.
Businesses should use a waste disposal vendor to dispose of either sludge or untreated wastewater. Licensed waste disposal vendors have the necessary experience, and using one limits liability for a business. Waste disposal vendors will offer different disposal management options for different types of waste. Most will accept some solids in a waste solution. Testing by a waste disposal vendor will determine how the waste must be categorized and disposed of. Aqueous cleaners are less toxic than petroleum solvents, which makes their disposal less expensive for businesses.
Aqueous cleaning is a safer, economical way of cleaning industrial parts. Contamination removed from those parts should not be considered safe to handle or simple to dispose of. Always err on the side of caution and consult your local waste utility and waste disposal vendor before you dispose of any byproducts of the cleaning process. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to either your employees’ safety or your business’s liability.
If you are looking for a parts cleaning system that minimizes waste byproducts, whether hazardous sludge, heat, or other wastes, contact us at AEC Systems, LLC. We would be happy to discuss your unique situation and design a cleaning system specific to your needs.