Protecting the Environment

Effluent and run-off from vehicle washing and cleaning activities can damage the environment and pollute rivers, streams, burns and groundwater. Dirt, brake dust, traffic film residue and oil that is washed off are all pollutants. The cleaning agents you use (including those labelled biodegradable or traffic film removers) are very poisonous to river life. If you cause pollution, you are breaking the law and spoiling your environment.

Location of site

Operators will need to demonstrate that the location of their hand car wash enables the site to comply with environmental regulations.  This includes:

  • The presence of an impermeable wash surface (e.g. concrete wash pad)
  •  Appropriate shielding to reduce and capture effluent run-off (e.g. a proper side screen and kerbs surrounding the site, bar access point).
  • A connection to a foul water drainage system which is regularly serviced by a registered waste carrier.

There are separate organisations that cover England (Environment Agency), Scotland (Scottish Environment Protection Agency), Wales (Natural Resources Wales) and Northern Ireland (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).

The Environment Agency’s PPG13 guidelines provide best practice guidance on how to prevent pollution during the car wash process.  Additional guidance can be found at: Pollution prevention for businesses

Water UK can assist operators in finding out which Water Company operates within the location of your site (Water Company-Find your supplier).

Each site should have an appropriate Spill Kit available and staff are trained on how to use these.

Disposal of Waste Effluent(water)

Operators must obtain a Trade Effluent License from a water supply company operating within the vicinity of the site. The Water Industry Act 1991 deals with Trade Effluent and operators are expected to comply with required regulations of the Act, and the license that is issued by the relevant Water Board.

Water UK can assist operators in finding out which Water Company your sites are under (Water Company-Find your supplier).

Disposal of Waste Material

Operators must dispose of all waste material (including trade effluent, hazardous waste, non-hazardous waste etc.) in accordance with the Environment Agency’s guidelines and other appropriate legislation, and retain accurate comprehensive records and evidence of any licences / permits etc.

Accidental spillage of chemicals

Each site should have an appropriate spill kit available which staff have been trained to use.