Clean air regulations have added new requirements to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and other air pollutants. Because of these regulations and other environmental concerns, many customers are asking builders to use products that pollute less. The volatile emissions from our epoxies are much lower than that of conventional vinyl esters and polyesters used in the composites industry. While our epoxy doesn’t have one major or easily identifiable volatile component, emissions may include small amounts of benzyl alcohol, low-molecular-weight amines or a reactive diluent.
To put it into perspective, making a laminate which requires 10 gallons of conventional vinyl ester resin would put 30 pounds of VOCs into the air. A laminate requiring the same quantity of WEST SYSTEM® epoxy would emit only one pound of VOCs. Consider the environmental impact when choosing the products you will use on your projects.
Disposal of Leftover Resin and Hardener
WEST SYSTEM Epoxy Resin and Hardeners are not considered hazardous wastes in their purchased form, using the criteria outlined in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Some state and local regulations, and disposal facilities may require additional lab analysis or evaluation of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to determine if your wastes satisfy their requirements. It is always the end user’s responsibility to properly dispose of wastes.
The following guidelines should help you make the right decisions when it comes time to dispose of unused epoxy resin and hardener.
- You do not have to designate unused resin and hardener as *waste* if you may use it on a future project. WEST SYSTEM epoxy products have a long shelf-life when stored in sealed containers. Simply use the product on another project.
- You may dispose of cured epoxy (resin and hardener mixed at the proper ratio and completely solidified) as a non-hazardous solid.
- Dispose of empty product containers only after you follow these simple *empty* rules: (1) You’ve made every effort to empty the container, and (2) no more than three percent by weight of the total capacity of the container remains in the container. Containers drain more completely when warm.
- Keep waste to a minimum. Work with small batches of epoxy. When emptying a container for disposal, collect the residue for use on a future project.
- Reclaim for further use epoxy resin or hardener collected from a spill or leak. If it is contaminated, designate it as waste. If you have used a solvent to clean up a spill, then the resultant mixture of solvent and epoxy may become a regulated hazardous waste. Respect the environment. Don’t release hazardous wastes directly to the land, air or water. Many communities organize periodic waste collections where consumers can take household wastes for safe disposal, usually free of charge.
The disposal guidelines above may not comply with the laws and regulations in your area. If you are uncertain, refer to local, state and federal regulations. Also, this section has addressed only the disposal of our epoxy resin and hardener. Boatbuilding and repair projects generate many hazardous wastes, including bottom paint, gel coat, paints, and solvents. These materials can harm the environment, so identify and dispose of them properly.
In this guide, we have presented the health hazards of mishandling epoxies and related materials. In the course of a building or repair project, you may run a greater risk of harm falling from a ladder or misusing power tools. It’s self-defeating to worry a great deal about epoxies if you are careless about using your table saw.
Use common sense. The more informed you are about the products you use, the better off you’ll be. Master basic health and safety principles and take responsibility for seeing them through. Your shop or business will be a safe place and you’ll be able to continue working with WEST SYSTEM epoxy products for a long time. When it comes to setting the rules and work practices of your shop, your health and safety are in your own hands.
All WEST SYSTEM technical manuals include basic safety information. All of our product labels provide appropriate hazard warnings. If you need more specific information, download our SDS ( Safety Data Sheets) or request them through your distributor or dealer.
For additional information, contact our Health & Safety Dept.