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Metal Finishing Pollution Prevention

The metal finishing Environmental Management System (EMS) template was designed to help metal finishers create and implement a streamlined EMS that improves compliance and promotes pollution prevention (P2). EPA determined that an industry-specific EMS template can help small and mid-sized businesses implement an EMS that improves environmental performance.

EPA Region 9, the Metal Finishing Association of Southern California, and the California Manufacturing Technology Center cooperated on the Pollution Prevention Project for Metal Finishers. The template provides an implementation tool for companies developing EMSs. It was tested at small and mid-sized metal finishing facilities in California.

The project involved:

  • testing seven P2 methods and technologies at five small- to- mid-sized metal finishing facilities in southern California, and
  • documenting results (for example, source reductions and cost savings) and actively transferring successful techniques and technologies to other metal finishing facilities via fact sheets, workshops, and videotapes.

EPA Region 9 has also implemented a metal finishing P2 program in South Phoenix, AZ. The program focused on a wide range of subjects transferable to many facilities. Costs, raw material savings, and waste reductions were documented for each project. Detailed descriptions of the projects are documented in the following fact sheets.

Metal Finishing P2 Projects Results

P2 method/technology Result
Process control 60% decrease in nickel acetate use
Electrodialysis 37% decrease in electroless nickel chemical use
Chrome plating/cooling 10% reduction in chromic acid use
Conductivity control systems 43% water use reduction
Spray systems 60% water use reduction
Tank layout modifications 50% water use reduction
Chrome plating/cooling Decreased reject rates from 10 to 1 percent and associated wastes

EPA Region 9 also holds workshops and provides mini-assessments, developed through the South Phoenix project, in northern and southern California. A mini-assessment is a technique that can help a metal finisher understand the impacts and costs of the facility's material use and waste generation and target specific processes for P2. Mini-assessments help to:

  • Compile and analyze facility data on material use, waste generation and operating costs;
  • Establish metrics to assess a facility's process operations and costs;
  • Identify proven P2 techniques and technologies that can improve the facility's operating conditions; and
  • Monitor the results of P2 techniques and technologies.

See a workshop outline for the Metal Finishing P2 Project (descriptions of technology transfer, and dragout reduction for line operators).

NOTE: If you would like to order a copy of the video or a hard copy of the spreadsheet above, please send your request to



The information contained in this site is provided for your review and convenience. It is not intended to provide legal advice with respect to any federal, state, or local regulation.
You should consult with legal counsel and appropriate authorities before interpreting any regulations or undertaking any specific course of action.

Please note that many of the regulatory discussions on STERC refer to federal regulations. In many cases, states or local governments have promulgated relevant rules and standards
that are different and/or more stringent than the federal regulations. Therefore, to assure full compliance, you should investigate and comply with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.