University of Minnesota
Minnesota Technical Assistance Program


Water-Based Cleaners Wipe Away VOCs

Anoka-based Lakeland Tool and Engineering, a precision mold manufacturer and molder, was using a heavy duty laquer thinner containing toluene and other HAPs to clean its paint gun system. MnTAP recommended the laquer thinner be replaced with acetone, which is VOCexempt (not expected to meaningfully contribute to ozone), has much lower health risks for employees and was available at the same cost. “We noticed right away that there was a change because the new cleaner doesn’t smell as bad but it works just as well,” said one Lakeland employee.

An even more successful product change was the replacement of three different solvents used for cleaning the molds. MnTAP recommended Lakeland swap the aerosols they were using with a single, waterbased cleaner that was able to handle it all: Zep Tuff Green. After an initial trial in the tool cleaning room, the new product was introduced throughout the plant.

These changes resulted in the elimination of over 1,200 lbs of VOCs and a reduction of over 2,400 lbs of smog-producing ozone. The new product is available in concentrated form and can be dispensed from reusable squirt bottles, eliminating 1,600 aerosol cans from solid waste. Best of all, Lakeland was able to reduce the number of cleaning products needed in inventory; they expect to see a savings of $7,000 per year on cleaning products without any reduction in cleaning ability.

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