The POEO Act classifies Perchloroethylene (PERC) as a hazardous waste. Solids or liquids contaminated with PERC may need a different waste classification depending on the concentration of PERC they contain.
Any liquid waste contaminated with PERC must first be treated before disposal. See 'Trade Wastewater'.
Solid waste material generated from your dry cleaning process contaminated with the solvent PERC (such as drums, plastic containers, filter waste, muck, spent carbon filters, lint or lint filters) MUST be disposed of at an appropriate waste facility which accepts this type of waste. Under no circumstances can hazardous waste be disposed of with your regular solid waste.
If you are a generator of hazardous waste you are responsible for classifying it and ensuring that it is transported to a facility that is licensed to receive and/or treat that type of waste. Your waste contractor should be able to provide advice on these issues.
If your dry cleaning operation generates less than 10,000 kilograms of hazardous waste per year and you store less than 2,000 kilograms of that waste at any one time, you do not require an environment protection licence under the POEO Act. This will be the case for most dry cleaning operations. However, all persons (including dry cleaning activities) who generate hazardous waste and are not required to hold a licence under the POEO Act, are specified in the regulations as a 'non-licensed waste activity' and must still comply with environment protection standards.
Store waste materials contaminated with PERC in sealed, properly labelled, impervious to PERC containers, in a bunded area or on a spill tray until collected.
Wastewater containing PERC must first be treated through suitable solvent recovery equipment prior to disposal to sewer. Refer to 'Trade Wastewater'.
Use of chemicals
- There may be less environmentally damaging chemicals on the market that you could use as substitutes for chemicals you are currently using. Seek out and investigate alternatives with various suppliers.
Labels and material safety data sheets
- Read the labels on all chemical products. The label will help identify the product, its ingredients and the hazards or dangers of the product. The label also contains important health and safety information. WorkCover NSW has some useful publications on managing chemical hazards in the workplace.
- It is compulsory to have to hand the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for each hazardous substance used. An MSDS is an information sheet on the safe use and disposal of a hazardous substance. It is just as important as any tool or piece of equipment in your business. In an emergency it contains information that can save lives. You should ask your supplier for an MSDS for every hazardous substance you buy and/or use.
General information about hazardous materials
- Ensure that all staff know and understand the potential hazards of the chemicals used in your dry cleaning operation.
- Establish practices and procedures to prevent leaks, spills and emergency situations that could harm your employees and the environment.
- Ensure that each chemical on your premises is stored in a designated area away from stormwater drains. Designated storage areas should be bunded. (Refer to the 'Bunding' section of 'Planning and General Information').
- Store each type of chemical in a separate container and clearly label each container with the name of the chemical it contains. Do not store incompatible chemicals with each other.
- Develop a spill clean-up plan that outlines what staff should do in case of a spill.
- Liquid PERC can be absorbed and migrate through concrete floors and can then contaminate soil and groundwater beneath your premises and further afield.
Preventing spills is your best option
Check your work areas regularly to identify any equipment, operations or procedures that have the potential to result in a spill. Make the necessary changes to minimise the potential for a spill to occur. In particular, make sure that:
- full or partially full drums and containers are not placed where they may be knocked over
- all containers of PERC or other solvent chemical are stored in an impervious bunded area or on/in spill trays
- all bunds and/or chemical storage areas are located under cover so as to preclude rainwater
- operators constantly monitor any liquid transfer operations drums and tanks should be bunded where necessary. (Refer to the 'Bunding' section of Planning and General Information').
General actions for dealing with spills
Prepare and practice your spill clean-up procedure. Staff should know what to do, where to find emergency equipment and how to use it. Available equipment should include mops, brooms, rags, material to prevent spills going into drains, and material to absorb spills. Ensure you have appropriate and sufficient amounts of clean-up equipment on site. Keep this material in a clearly labelled and accessible location. It is important to:
- Stop the source of the spill immediately if it is safe to do so.
- Contain the spill and control its flow (Refer to the relevant MSDS). Stop the spill from entering any stormwater drains by blocking the drain inlets.
- Clean up the spill. It is important to clean up all spills quickly, even small ones, as they can easily flow into stormwater drains or be washed there by rain.
- Store all waste generated from spill clean up in a sealed vessel and in a bunded and covered area.
- Contact a waste contractor who is licensed to dispose of the absorbents used in the spill clean up.
Emergency response to spills
- Make all staff aware of emergency telephone numbers to call in the case of a spill.
- Make sure staff and other people are not at risk from exposure to the spilled substance.
- If a spill occurs that threatens or harms the environment, you must tell the EPA or the local council as soon as you can after you became aware of it.
- For large-scale, hazardous spills call the Fire Brigade immediately on 000. If you cannot contain any spill of hazardous materials (regardless of its size) contact the Fire Brigade immediately.
- For small-scale spills, follow the MSDS for the spilled substance.
- Your local council
- WorkCover NSW, Tel: 131 050
- Standards Australia, Tel: (02) 8206 6000
- DECC Environment Line, Tel: 131 555
- Yellow Pages â€“ look under 'Spill & Chemical Spill Recovery & Dispersal Services' and also under 'Environmental & Pollution Consultants' and Chemical Suppliers'.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011