Being Aware of Your Environment

March 27, 2019
In light of recent environmental laws and issues in the automotive industry and retail businesses, these two body shops put effort into making their business a friend to the environment.

At the beginning of January 2019, Starbucks and other restaurants in Berkeley, Calif., were required to charge 25 cents for every disposable cup that a consumer would come in and purchase.

For body shops in California, specifically Hustead’s Auto Body which has multiple locations in northern California, being environmentally conscious is not a choice—it’s a requirement.

Climate changes are becoming more prevalent in the automotive industry, with more than 19 U.S. cities and counties moving to increase the number of electric vehicles in their own fleets, according to The Guardian. According to the report, moves like electrification are particularly challenging in the U.S. because transport is now the largest contributor of greenhouse gases and drivers have opted for larger vehicles amid low fuel prices.

Jonathan Yi, owner of Hustead’s, says that his area often experiences natural disasters as well, so it is important that his shop follows laws on hazardous waste removal, recycled materials, and tries to focus on repairing instead of replacing as much as they can.

 For Eric Freiberg, director of operations at CDE Collision Centers, the shop’s goal is to be environmentally friendly, specifically in the products that they use throughout the 15 locations. Frieberg operates more than one shop across the Chicagoland, Indiana and Michigan areas.

 Yi has owned Hustead’s for over 20 years and, since that time, has used his background in high-technology corporate business to make the shop run smoothly and departmentalized, he says. One vital piece to running smoothly is designating the areas for hazardous waste and recycled materials.

Yi shares how his MSO makes not only an impact on serving the customer but also keeps the surrounding environment healthy. The shop has been in business in the community for more than 45 years and it prides itself on providing exceptional customer service and looking out for the customer’s well-being.

In the Town

The three Hustead’s body shops are located in close proximity to the University of California-Berkeley, Yi says. The area is specifically one that has a lot of professionals and young college students. The shop itself sees more repeat business than most, he says.

Knowing the area that the shop is located in has helped Yi learn how to manage his waste removal and stay within legal guidelines. The shop is located in an area that often experiences natural disasters, including floods. According to, California is one of the states with the highest average percentage of precipitation and is part of the southern states in the U.S. that are projected to have very high temperatures from 2020-2090, based on a high-emissions future.

For other shops, like CDE Collision Centers, the surrounding environment does not experience the same type of natural disasters, with no drought and average temperatures predicted. With fewer weather issues, the shop mainly focused on eco-friendly practices occurring within the paint department.

In the Paint Department

The shop uses water-based paint, Yi says. The paint comes from the shop’s paint company, PPG, and Yi also makes sure that each technician wears the proper equipment to reduce fumes and keep them safe in the process.

Freiberg says the CDE locations use Axalta paint and camera-matching systems that help the shops match the colors quickly and digitally in order to reduce waste. And, the shops have more efficient spray booths right now.

In the paint department, the team uses a vacuum system so the paint dust particles don’t go into the air. And, they sand the bumpers for a recycled finish, he says.

Any excess paint the team has goes to use in the door jams and other areas. Overall, the team tries to reduce the amount of liquid that does get picked up.

“Any chance we can, we’re trying to make sure we’re conscious of reusing extra materials,” Yi says.

In the Repair Process

The team reconditions wheels instead of replacing them, Yi says. And, each of the three shop locations contains a designated area on the shop floor in which technicians can put recycled materials to be picked up. The shop recycles materials including cardboard, paper, old metals, aluminum cords, bumper cords and sheet metals.

The areas are roughly 800 square feet and the recycling company knows exactly where to go when coming to pick up the pieces because the parts never move.

“It’s kind of like how you do aluminum in which you section off a part of the shop,” he says. “We recycle materials like aluminum cans, parts, shredded paper and cardboard boxes.”

Water sumps trap the shop’s debris and waste that can potentially escape Yi’s shop.

The body technicians wear goggles and face masks. They also carry fresh air filters, Yi says. The shop also tracks all the fumes in the air and the usage of liquids and VOCs that are in the air.

At the CDE Collision Centers, the team uses vacuum systems when welding  and vacuum systems from 3M to keep the dust from going airborne on the shop floor.

In the Office

“We want to focus on solar resources down the line,” Yi says.

Right now, high-efficiency lights are used in the shop, he says. The lights are not fluorescent and are also programmed to turn on only when they sense motion in the area.

Freiberg says that, currently, CDE Collision Centers uses high-efficiency lighting in every shop. The operation uses Sylvania low-energy lighting. Every location is being retrofitted for LED lights.

The shop currently makes sure to shred any old customer files and recycle them as well.

And, once per year or so, government entities will come out to the shop to inspect that the shop is following OSHA laws, and the rules of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Since Hustead’s is a body shop in California, the shop has to follow regulations to maintain air quality. According to the BAAQMD, air is made up of 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, and less than 1 percent of gases like argon and carbon dioxide. Some of the toxic materials in the air can come from fumes that the body shop produces.

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