In-House Equipment Or Hiring A Service: What Solvent Recycling Option Is Right For Your Company?

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Written By Charlotte Miller

If you’re using acetone, alcohol,  mineral spirits, or other solvents to clean your industrial equipment, you will have to deal with hazardous waste, but you also have the opportunity to save overhead while managing these substances. That’s because most solvents can be recovered and reused just like a new out-of-the-bottle product. This is accomplished using equipment known as solvent recyclers.

For companies that use solvent on a regular basis, such as in a parts washer or ink washing system, they must decide how to handle the solvent once it becomes saturated and needs proper disposal. Their choices are to purchase in-house solvent recycling machinery that becomes a part of their production flow and facility assets or to hire a service provider that collects the waste liquid, completes the solvent distillation process offsite, and returns the cleaned, usable liquid for future use.

These are both perfectly viable options that help ensure environmental compliance, reduce liability, and save a lot of overhead on the purchase of virgin solvent. However, they each provide different advantages and pose certain limitations depending on individual operations. For some companies, it may be a costly mistake to invest in an in-house recycling system when their needs can be more efficiently met by a dedicated service provider. Conversely, relying on a third-party service can be insufficient and costly depending on a few factors.

If you know you need a solvent recycling solution but you’re not sure how to gain the best results, consider the following information to help you choose the right option.

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Solvent Use Frequency

In-house solvent recycling is very favorable for companies that regularly need a clean supply of solvent. If solvent is being used as part of a daily or weekly process, there should be a consistent or even continuous flow of clean, usable solvent and removal of waste. Having dedicated equipment that accomplishes this onsite amounts to more streamlined operations compared to the alternative. If solvent is used frequently and must be collected for third-party handling, there are more demands on logistics, labor, and supply. If however, solvent is only needed for a periodic cleaning or another process, hiring a service rather than investing in dedicated equipment is much more economical and less likely to impede on daily operations.  

Solvent Volume

Just as in the case of using solvent with regular frequency, companies that use high volumes of solvent on a cyclical basis will save more labor and overhead costs, and better ensure the safety of their facility if they implement an in-house recycling unit. To store high volumes of solvent waste that must be contained for collection by a third party can become a liability and logistics issue, while also taking up valuable facility space. Many solvent recovery units can handle high volumes of solvent without taking up many facility resources. Additionally, the solvent can be maintained as part of a continuous process. This means there is reduced potential for exposure and fewer hazards as a result.     

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Facility Space

Unlike solvent volume and frequency of use, facility space can be less of an issue when deciding between recycling services or an in-house equipment unit. Solvent recycling machinery can be quite compact, requiring only a few feet of floor space, especially when additions like automated belts are not required. Depending on the amount of waste solvent being created on a regular basis, a solvent recycler will often take up less space than that needed to store containers of waste solvent. But, some factors will vary by facility requirements. Solvent recycling units will need to be accessible and interrogated into the appropriate input and output resources, such as water and power supply. For companies that have the space to safely store waste solvent for collection, hiring a solvent recycling service can be a perfectly viable option, especially when the volume of solvent and frequency of use are not substantial. Companies that have the luxury of storage and time, but not the resources for an additional equipment unit, will gain more advantages from recycling solvent offsite.