Department of the Environment

About us | Contact us | Publications

Settlements Header ImageSettlements Header ImageSettlements Header Image

Environment industries archive


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Carstrip Pty Ltd
Cleaner Production - Plastic Media Paint Stripping

Carstrip Pty Ltd has established a dry process for stripping paint from motor vehicles undergoing panel repairs or restoration. The process uses ground plastic media in a sandblasting-type process to remove the paint from the vehicle without damaging the metal. The process has eliminated the generation of waste sludge associated with chemical stripping processes, and has reduced the labour requirement for stripping a vehicle.


Carstrip Pty Ltd is a specialist company that was established in 1991 to strip paint from cars by utilising a plastic media dry stripping system. The service has since expanded to include the stripping of trucks, buses and aluminium-hulled boats. The stripping system is versatile enough to handle fibreglass, aluminium and other exotic materials.

The Process

Competing stripping processes involve the use of paint stripping solvents, acid dipping, hand stripping and sand blasting.

The use of paint stripping solvents is the most conventional method of stripping car bodies for respraying. Chemical strippers are applied to the car body by brushing and allowing to soak for a period of time, after which they are removed by scraping and water washing. Typically about 10 litres of stripper would be used on a car. This method has the disadvantage of generating large amounts of waste which require specialist disposal, and can adversely affect respray quality due to migration of the stripper into seams on the car body. In addition, solvents cannot be used on fibreglass materials. Stripping in acid baths has similar problems with sludge generation and migration of acid into the car body.

Hand stripping is an extremely time consuming process, and generates reasonably large quantities of dust. Sand blasting is not a process that is usually recommended for paint stripping, as it can damage the metal surface and may require excessive filling upon respraying.

Cleaner Production Initiative

The stripping process utilised by Carstrip was developed in the USA by Pauli & Griffin. The system was initially developed for paint stripping in the aeronautical sector and utilises a finely ground plastic to remove the paint coating via a mild abrasive action.

Paint stripping is carried out using a machine specifically designed for use of plastic media. The operation is undertaken in an enclosed, 15 metre long booth which allows collection and reuse of the plastic grit. Fines, dust and other rubbish are removed by an internal screening process. Small losses of plastic grit occur due to attrition. The booth can accommodate tour buses and large trucks.

Paint stripping using plastic media

Paint stripping using plastic media

The plastic media used in the stripping process is a thermoplastic acrylic resin. This resin was initially imported from the USA, but is now manufactured by Carstrip from virgin scrap material (offcuts, etc) supplied from moulders. The irregular granular shape of the plastic particles provides a sharp cutting edge which gives excellent cutting and lifting properties, without the hardness to damage the surface underneath.

Advantages of the Process

The process was originally developed in the USA as an alternative to chemical paint stripping of air force and commercial aircraft. It offered a number of advantages, including elimination of sludge generation, reduced labour and a safer and cleaner working environment.

The process is a dry process and dust control is relatively straight forward. Paint dust residue is suitable for non-specialist disposal within the normal industrial waste stream.

The advantages of the process over other methods are that it:

Examples of plastic media

Examples of the plastic media used in the stripping process

Savings have been realised from the elimination of chemicals and waste disposal costs, as well as the reduced labour requirement. Energy costs for the air compressor amount to approximately $10/hr during operation.

Economic Benefits
Capital Investment $140,000
Turnover $100,000
Payback Period 2-3 years

Cleaner Production Incentive

Management decided to implement this technology because of the many economic and environmental benefits. Replacing the use of a hazardous material with a process which was clean and efficient was a key consideration.


The main barrier was the initial establishment of the operation, due to the need to import the equipment from the United States and the consequent high initial capital investment required.

Further Developments

Carstrip has continued to benefit from this process.


Mr John Marion
Carstrip Pty Ltd
1/40 Adrian Road
Campbellfield Victoria 3061
Ph: 61 3 93578936
Fax: 61 3 93579228
Date of implementation:1993-
Date of further initiatives: Ongoing
Case study prepared: 1997 by ACCP. 
Date last modified: June 2001.
ACCP logo