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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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.

Cleaner Production - Waste Reduction and Chemical Minimisation - Oxford Panels

A program involving recycling, waste reduction and waste treatment, is saving Oxford Panels around $1,000 annually on waste removal cost alone. A 30% saving has also been recorded on the cost of raw materials such as thinners and sandpaper.

Importantly, the morale of staff has increased. They like the reduction in chemicals and pollutants in their workplace and take pride knowing they are actively helping to protect the environment.


Oxford Panels is a family-owned panel beating and spray painting business established in 1968. Located in Oakleigh, Victoria, the business has six staff members. It occupies a total floor space of around 500 square metres and its annual turnover averages $400,000.

In January 1992, management started to look at ways of improving business methods, to contain costs and operate in a more environmentally sound manner.

The process

Vehicles have to be rubbed down and washed at various stages during the painting process to remove chemical residues from the surface. Each vehicle to be painted is masked with recycled paper to protect areas from airborne paint particles, resulting in a 205-litre drum of this paper to be disposed of every week. After painting, the vehicles are put through a natural gas baking oven to ensure a better paint finish.

Cleaner production initiatives

Oxford Panels' staff were actively encouraged to become part of the cleaner production program and goals were set to reduce and avoid some types of waste. With staff help, four areas for improvement were identified, then specific measures were adopted. These measures are described below.

Onsite recycling

Thinners required in the painting process are used several times, instead of once. When no longer usable the thinners are stored in a drum and are recycled by a Victorian EPA-approved company at a cost of $25 per drum.

Old rags are reused for other tasks such as cleaning applicators or mopping up spills.

Sandpaper, which cannot be used in equipment after a certain amount of wear, is now recycled for sanding by hand.

Bins for rags and sandpaper are located next to each waste bin for recycling.

Offsite recycling

Scrap metal, batteries and radiators are sold to a scrap yard instead of being dumped.

The chrome from bumper bars is sold to a bumper bar repairer.

A local centre for the intellectually disabled removes the waste cardboard and sells it for recycling.

Reduction of waste volumes

Minor adjustments were made by staff to avoid spillage of liquids.

To avoid over-ordering, more care is given when ordering materials required for each job.

Recycled paper is used to mask vehicles during the painting process, and is now compressed with waste water from other processes into a 60-litre bucket. Previously, a 205-litre drum of this paper alone had to be disposed of every week. Once sufficiently packed, it is placed into the dumpmaster. This greatly reduces the quantity and volume of waste and the need for disposal once every six weeks.

Waste treatment

A triple interceptor has been installed in the washbay, where vehicles are rubbed down and washed at various stages to remove chemical residues from the surface. The triple interceptor collects and filters the water to remove the chemicals before it is discharged to the sewer, as outlined by a Trade Waste Agreement with Melbourne Water.

Overspray filters have been installed in the natural gas baking oven, where vehicles are placed to ensure a better paint finish. Air containing overspray is forced through filters before it is discharged into the atmosphere. Running water beneath the oven grating collects overspray. The sludge formed during this process is removed regularly by Premier Thinners. Through an approved process, Premier Thinners recycles this waste into modified paint and thinners that can be used as domestic cleaning agents.

Advantages of the process

Oxford Panels' cleaner production program has not only resulted in cost savings and better staff morale, but has also brought benefits for the environment.

Major operational benefits include:

Cost of cleaner production measures

Research $1,600
Labour 780
Triple interceptor 2,500
Baking oven and spray booth 50,000

Income from recycling (per annum)

Scrap metal $ 30
Batteries 45
Radiators 95
Paper & cardboard (Donated)

Savings (per annum)

Raw material 30% reduction
Waste transport 87% reduction

Benefits to staff include:

Cleaner production incentives

The company knew that waste disposal was a problem and that a considerable amount of potentially recyclable or reusable waste was being taken to landfill. Careless work practices were responsible for some wastage of materials and resources.

Oxford Panels thought that they could introduce improved waste management practices and achieve savings at the same time. They wanted a program that would prove no more time consuming or expensive than excisting practices and found one that was better.

Further Development

 Oxford panels has continued to benefit from these initiatives.


Michael Kermanides
Oxford Panels
44 Oxford Street
Ph: 61 3 9569 9424
Fax: 61 3 9569 4949
Date of implementation: 1992-.
Date of further initiatives: Ongoing.
Date last modified: May 2001.