Author: Rob Walker

Rob joined Safetykleen as a young lad back in 1994. In his 26 years with us, he has held various positions including dangerous goods safety advisor for our parts cleaning business and chemist at our solvent recycling centre, through to the current position of UK Technical Manager. Rob has a Master’s Degree in Chemistry, has been a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) for over 10 years, where he sits on the specialist interest groups for hazardous waste and waste regulation. He is also a member of the waste industry/Environment Agency joint working group on wastes classification.

Importance of Volatile Organic Compounds

Most people are familiar with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as they relate to paint, cleaning products, new cars, and other materials. Volatile means evaporate, so VOC’s are those solvent ingredients that evaporate into the atmosphere as gases and include a variety of chemicals. VOCs are produced from natural processes, plants animals, and microbes. VOCs emitted by human activities include solvents used in coatings as well as thinners and cleaners.

Why are VOC’s important in environmental considerations?

VOCs are invisible chemicals that can be harmful to your health if left untackled. By their very nature, they evaporate into the air, and although some VOC’s are worse than others, they contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer and climate change. There are other problems with VOCs, because they evaporate, we can breathe them in which is not good for health. Solvent vapours can also cause explosive risks.

If they’re dangerous why are we using them?

VOCs for painting, air drying paint only works because the VOCs evaporate into the atmosphere during curing. The coatings industry has been working for a number of years to significantly reduce the levels of VOCs emitted from coatings, however, even waterborne paints contain VOCs albeit less than traditional paints. Also, to minimise the effects of VOCs when using thinners and paint, keeping lids on paint cans or getting your waste paint and thinners recycled can reduce your use of VOCs.  Careful management of colour changes and ensuring that you avoid rework from poor coating application in the first place also can significantly minimise VOCs.

Find here some tips on how to record your use of VOC- Solvent Management Plans

UK legislation has put controls on the use of VOCs and their emissions in industry with a focus on reducing the amounts used and emitted. Local authorities or other permitting authorities will want to know the level of emissions a paint shop, for example, produces.

A requirement of which is that users of VOC containing materials must record the VOCs that have come into the site and have been used through a solvent management plan. The normal way to do this is to add up the VOCs in all paint product purchases made in a year and report on the total bought in and taken away with the remainder being the fugitive emissions produced onsite.

How do you find out all this information? Well, all containers of paint products should have the level of VOC printed on the label, you should record all waste paints taken away for disposal and also recycling as any solvents taken away for recover can be deducted from your total use, which can drastically reduce the amount of VOCs used.

Let our experts help your business on detailed consumption of your Volatile Organic Compound and reducing your environmental impact.





What is considered as waste and how is it managed correctly?

Dealing with waste and ensuring a safe and clean work environment is not an easy task. According to the Government Guidance Waste Regulations (2011), waste is defined as ‘any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard’.  The regulations also define the Waste Hierarchy as a priority list for the management of waste with the best environmental outcome at the top (Waste prevention) and the worst at the bottom (Landfill).

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides further information on how specifically an organisation could make provision for the management of pollution from industrial processes. Additionally, contains the key management actions of defining controlled waste, municipal, commercial and industrial wastes.

Managing all type of waste requires a duty of care on anyone who produces, imports, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of controlled waste and all have their own responsibility for ensuring their waste does not cause pollution or harm to human health

By following this simple checklist below, you will be able to comply with the legislation

  • Check your containers are well-constructed and clearly labelled.
  • That where you store them is suitable and safe.
  • Your carrier is registered.
  • The company you send it to is permitted for your waste.
  • You get a copy of the collection note (Can be electronic).
  • For hazardous waste, a receipt of waste acceptance from disposal site.
  • You keep the records for 3 years.
  • Chain of responsibility for storing, transporting and receiving.

The regulatory entity is a separate agency for each country.  In England ‘Environment Agency’, in Wales ‘Natural Resource Wales’, in Scotland ‘Scottish Protection Agency’ and in Northern Ireland ‘Environment Agency’.  All work together under a memorandum of understanding to ensure waste moving from one country to the next are managed correctly.

What if I don’t handle my waste properly?

Improper waste management affects the overall economy of a country. Moreover, the environment also faces a great threat due to pollution, spills, and discharge of chemicals which may cause water and soil contamination around other major problems. Also, it increases the risk the health and safety of your workplace and potentially leads to financial penalties.

The financial penalties for incorrectly disposing of waste and for breaking the law include;

  1. Fixed penalties – up to £400
  2. Enforcement undertakings which are voluntary contributions in lieu of prosecution. For example, water companies and household names such as Barclays Bank have agreed to a series of enforcement undertakings with the Environment Agency, the largest being £306,509 from Severn Trent Water for an unpermitted discharge in 2016.
  3. Convictions as Magistrates Court max £50K fine and 1-year imprisonment, Crown Court unlimited fine and up to 5 years in jail.




Kleenwaste take delivery of 5 new trucks

This week Kleenwaste have welcomed 5 new trucks to its dedicated fleet. The new 7.5 tonne trucks are added to the existing fleet to serve its large UK customer base through Kleenwaste’s branch network.

With taking delivery of the new trucks, Kleenwaste is making progress with the investment of upgrading and expanding its dedicated fleet.

“Despite Covid-19, we continue to invest in expanding and upgrading our fleet, which allows us to deliver superior customer service to an ever-growing customer base across the UK,” Mark Cawley, Managing Director Safetykleen UK. “In October 2019 we rebranded our waste business to Kleenwaste and taking delivery of the new trucks with new Kleenwaste livery is a major milestone for us and our dedicated team members across the UK.”

Investing in its dedicated fleet of trucks and oil tankers is a key focus area for Kleenwaste. Since 2019 these investments have contributed to being awarded the FORS Silver level and a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Mark Cawley believes the fleet investment plan will provide additional capacity for business growth and enhanced customer service, while creating one of the most modern and environmentally friendly fleets in the UK.


About Kleenwaste

Kleenwaste is part of Safetykleen International. Kleenwaste is the UK leader in management of hazardous and industrial waste and waste oil collection. With over 80,000 collections a year, Kleenwaste serves over 450 industries nationwide using its own dedicated fleet of oil tankers and collection vans. Kleenwaste has 19 dedicated waste transfer stations and over 120 employees across the country to serve its customers with managing their waste streams.

About Safetykleen International

Established in 1973, Safetykleen International is the market leader in surface treatment and chemical application services – providing industrial component, part and tool cleaning equipment, tailored chemicals, with regularly scheduled services and spent chemical collections.

Safetykleen International provides customer efficient outsourcing solutions to address a wide range of critical manufacturing and maintenance, repair and overhaul processes across Metalworking, Transportation and Manufacturing sectors.

With a network of 92 service locations operating across 14 countries throughout Europe, Turkey, Brazil and China, Safetykleen International delivers a unique full-service proposition, combining a culture of innovation to deliver Productivity, Quality and Compliance to our customers.