Sustainable Products at Fleet Services

December 17, 2010

Technician using rechargeable spray can
Technician using rechargeable spray can

Working with suppliers and directly with product manufacturers across the country, Sandia National Laboratories has implemented environmentally preferable product alternatives in several chemical applications within the Fleet Services department. Implementation of sustainable products is required by the Department of Energy for facilities like Sandia, and automotive is an area with a variety of opportunities.

Sandia Fleet Services uses sustainable products including soy/canola based hydraulic fluid in trash trucks and heavy equipment, and other biobased lubricants for rust penetration and vehicle service applications. These products are environmentally preferable in that they do not rely on petroleum for production but even more so because of their degradability. In most cases biobased products are less toxic and less volatile than their conventional counterparts as well; this makes a difference in the health and safety of technicians using them. In switching to biobased lubricants, Fleet Services has reduced aerosol can waste with product now purchased in recyclable plastic bottles. This has an added bonus of no flammable aerosol propellant, so containers are no longer required to be stored in flammable cabinets.

All automotive shops use a significant amount of brake cleaner. This solvent is used to cut grease and dirt that has been baked on an engine at high temperatures for periods ranging from months to years. In December 2010, Pollution Prevention worked with Fleet Services to make the first bulk purchase of brake cleaner and began the usage of rechargeable aerosol cans.  Rechargeable cans are able to be pressurized by an air compressor, leftover hazardous waste is now avoided, and ordering and transportation of this product is reduced to a minimum.