Reduce the environmental impacts of your garage and save money
With rising energy costs there is never a better time for garages to look at all areas of performance, not just electricity contracts.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently published the updated Smart Garage guide, outlining areas where garages can reduce costs while also protecting the environment.
The guide deals with the main day-to-day operations of a typical garage under the headings of waste, water, energy, documentation and legislation. For waste, water and energy, best practice options are outlined and the documentation required to comply with the corresponding relevant legislation is also detailed.
The guide was informed through working with several garages throughout Ireland and learning from the issues, and solutions, that they have put in place. Hopefully these will help improve your garage’s performance and save you money.
The garage sector is unique in the many different wastes, both hazardous and non-hazardous, that are produced. Cars and vans are probably one of the most hazardous things that people own – and garages are the ones dealing with these hazards when they become a waste.
Managing these wastes can be difficult, and costly, so the Smart Garage guide outlines applicable laws and how best to manage the different waste streams. By doing this you can cut down on the amount of waste produced, save money and make sure you are not liable to prosecution.
The main types of waste that a garage should be segregating includes: general waste, mixed recycling (see what goes where on https://www.mywaste.ie/), hazardous waste, and bulky waste. Most Irish garages separate their main hazardous wastes (waste oil, batteries and used oil filters) but the majority of other wastes (card, plastics etc.) often end up in either an open skip or covered bins.
While this is a common way of handling waste in lots of garages, it is also the most expensive way. The cost of disposal of mixed wastes has been increasing steadily and is expected to increase even more. You should keep as much waste as possible out of the mixed waste bin through better segregation, cutting costs at the same time.
Make sure you segregate your main wastes and use appropriate bins or storage containers so the rain won’t get in (you don’t want to pay for disposal of rain weighted cardboard) and the waste won’t get out (keep waste oils and other hazardous waste liquids in approved containers on bunded pallets under cover).
Of all the wastes generated in garages, the most common one that is thrown out incorrectly into the regular waste bin is metal. If you collect your metal waste separately, you can get money for it rather than paying for it to be collected in the regular waste bin. Things like screws, brake discs, brake pads, metal shaving fines and any other metal wastes should be kept in a separate container.
Water is an area that you might not have considered but there’s money to be saved there as well. Water saving devices in bathrooms and kitchen areas have a short payback and if you are washing cars that you’ve serviced as a courtesy to customers then the guide outlines some areas where you might make savings there as well.
Energy costs are currently going through the roof so reducing your main energy uses will help your garage save money. Lighting is typically on all day in garages so switching to LED lights, which use much less electricity than traditional incandescent, fluorescent and halogen options, is a great way to cut costs.
Compressed air is another significant energy cost. Only switch on when necessary, use at the minimum pressure setting that will operate your equipment and check regularly for leaks (you can hear leaks when there is no background noise or use soapy water like you would to find a puncture in a tyre).
Documentation and Legislation
Remember, mixing wastes is a bad idea – it is costly and you may also risk prosecution if you are not properly managing wastes, in particular separating our hazardous wastes. Your waste management company must have a permit for the type of waste that they are collecting (you can check this for yourself on the National Waste Collection Permit Office website at http://nwcpo.ie/permitsearch.aspx) and they must bring it to a licensed/permitted facility for recovery/disposal.
Hazardous waste (including waste oil) must be accompanied by the relevant waste transfer form (WTF) when being transported from your garage.
If you’re selling tyres, then you should be fully versed with your obligations when it comes to the Waste Management (Tyres and Waste tyres) Regulations 2017. You must be registered with the approved scheme, Circolet https://circolelt.ie/.
For all the details on how your garage can correctly manage wastes and save money, go to the EPA’s website at www.epa.ie and use the search box to find the Smart Garage guide or click on the following QR code: