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How To Reduce Shipping Costs By Recycling Solvents Onsite

Transportation companies typically bill their customers based on volume and distance of material shipped. These shipping costs are currently at record highs and climbing due to a number of factors. If you are concerned about the cost and liability associated with shipping hazardous waste (specifically solvent waste), onsite solvent recycling presents a unique opportunity to tackle these specific challenges, improve your bottom line, and become more environmentally sustainable.

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Soaring Commodities & Supply Chain Disruption

Transportation costs in all sectors have been steadily rising at an historical pace the last few years. As individuals, we are certainly feeling the squeeze at the pumps. Supply chain disruption and inflation, among other factors, have all played enormous roles in boosting fuel commodity prices. A lack of skilled labor and resulting wage increase demands have also played a major role in increasing the cost of doing business. Transport companies are definitely not immune to these factors. In order to remain profitable, they have had to adapt and increase the pricing of the services they offer to their customers significantly. 

Costs of Shipping Hazardous Waste vs. Recycling Onsite

Shipping hazardous solvent waste offsite is carried out in a couple of ways. First, if you send waste out for disposal, you can expect to pay for transportation one-way. Second, if you are shipping your hazardous solvent waste offsite for recycling, you can expect to pay for transportation both ways, which significantly adds to your overall transportation costs. Let’s look at a couple of scenarios for shipping of hazardous solvent waste: a company shipping their waste 500+ miles away for processing and one shipping 50 miles away. 

Companies shipping 500+ miles away are likely paying as much as $1/gallon for one-way shipping. Companies shipping around 50 miles away can expect to pay a fraction of this cost for one way shipping, usually in the form of a negotiated flat fee (for argument’s sake, though, let’s say it works out to $0.10/gallon). These rates may not be easily identifiable as a line item on your invoice, but the costs are typically blended into the overall amount that you are paying to have your solvent waste disposed of or recycled off-site. 

There are often also a number of other hidden transportation charges such as pickup fees, demurrage fees, fuel surcharges, and environmental fees which need to be considered when looking at the true, overall cost of shipping this solvent waste off-site for processing. These fees vary drastically depending on a number of factors such as volume of waste shipped, distance, location, etc. The best thing that you can do is request a single bill from your waste handler that breaks down all your costs on one sheet, rather than many misleading bills.

Shipping Cost Breakdown

As mentioned above, if you ship offsite for recycling, you can expect to pay transportation fees for both directions. As one might expect, these costs are likely similar to or equal to the $1/gallon and $0.10/gallon we mentioned above for those facilities 500+ miles and 50 miles away from the treatment facility. Added together with the cost to ship the solvent waste to a facility, and the cost to process this material, the overall costs start to become clearer. 

By recycling solvents onsite, you can greatly decrease the shipping costs associated with transporting hazardous waste and ordering in virgin solvent. Imagine you are a company that is currently shipping 3,000 gallons of hazardous solvent waste offsite per month for disposal, and the distance to your treatment facility is over 500 miles. Your cost to simply ship this solvent one way is roughly $3,000 per month. 

With CleanPlanet’s revolutionary AlwaysClean solvent recyclers, you can anticipate recovering up to 95% of the available solvent in your feed stream. Say your level of contamination is 8%. The napkin math says you have roughly 2,760 gallons of available solvent in the hazardous waste that you ship (3,000 x 92%). If we are able to recover, say, 95% of this available solvent, that means 2,622 gallons of solvent recycled onsite (2,760 x 95%), which means you will save $2,622 per month in shipping fees to your waste facility. That’s over $30,000 per year, and doesn’t even paint the full picture! 

For the company shipping hazardous solvent waste offsite for disposal at a distance of around 50 miles away, the cost is much smaller. If they are shipping 3,000 gallons per month at a cost of $0.10 per gallon, that equals $300 per month (3,000 x $0.10). If we use the same metrics of 8 % contamination and a 95% recovery rate on 3,000 gallons of solvent recycled, that means a savings of $262.20 per month ((3,000 x 92%) x 95%). 

Hazardous Waste Shipment

Hidden Costs of Shipping Hazardous Waste

Next, we need to consider the transportation costs associated with shipping recycled and/or virgin solvent back to your facility. If the recycled solvent is coming from the facility to which you shipped your spent solvent, then you can reasonably expect to pay the same in shipping costs ($1/gallon for 500+ miles shipping distance and $0.10 for 50 miles shipping distance). Since the amount of replacement solvent – recycled or virgin – should add up to at least as much as what was shipped out or more, the costs for shipping 500+ miles will be at least $2,622 per month, or over $30,000 per year. For those shipping around 50 miles, the costs will be around $262.20 per month or $3,146.40 per year. In both scenarios, that is a lot of annual transportation cost savings by switching from shipping your hazardous solvent waste offsite for processing to recycling solvent onsite.

Demurrage Fees

As mentioned above, companies can also expect to pay other fees when shipping hazardous solvent waste offsite for processing. Depending on the waste management company and location, there may be a pickup fee, which covers hauling from a generator’s facility to its processing center. This may be charged as a set rate, and may also include a certain fuel surcharge. 

Demurrage fees are charged to companies when their recycled solvents need to sit at the offsite processing facility for longer than expected. Say, for example, a facility suddenly generates a lot of hazardous waste and fills up any empty space in their building. They have no room to receive their clean, recycled solvent until that hazardous waste is able to get picked up. In a scenario like this, the offsite recycling facility would charge a demurrage fee. There are some jurisdictions in which environmental fees are also applied. In California, hazardous waste generators are charged $7.50 per manifest that they generate. Although this cost is relatively low compared to other fees, if you need to send more manifests than other businesses, these costs can quickly add up.

Storage and RCRA Laws

For businesses that currently ship their solvent waste offsite for processing, there are other potential costs which need to be considered. Companies typically have to store a full truckload (88 drums) of hazardous waste drums on their site before a transportation company will come to pick them up. They can arrange for early pickup if their waste facility is nearby, but this service obviously comes at a costly premium. 

There is also the very real risk that transportation companies will be unable to pick up these drums in a timely manner, and the facility may be forced to store more than the allowable amount of hazardous waste in their permitted storage area, under RCRA conditions. If they were to be visited by an auditor at this time, they may be handed a fine. Violating RCRA conditions can prove costly and businesses often incur hefty fines that they certainly never budgeted for. 

An added bonus of recycling solvents onsite is that businesses don’t need to store nearly as much hazardous waste or solvent inventory because they are able to continuously process it for re-use. The byproduct of solvent recycling – still bottoms – still need to be disposed of, but such a small amount is produced that it would be very difficult to reach the CAA threshold before having them picked up for disposal.

Cradle-to-Grave Liability of Shipping Hazardous Waste

Unfortunately, the risk of a spill of hazardous solvent waste in transit is a real possibility. Although the occurrence is relatively rare, the potential is always present, and the costs associated with a spill are often catastrophic. The recent Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, for example, is a glaring example of the cradle-to-grave liability associated with shipping hazardous chemicals. Eleven of those rail cars contained hazardous materials – including commonly used solvents like ethylene glycol, butyl acrylate, monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, and isobutylene – which spilled into nearby waterways and soil. 

The DOJ and EPA have called for fines up to $120,000 per day of Clean Water Act violations. Norfolk Southern is also facing additional lawsuits from the residents of East Palestine and the state of Ohio. Now, these railcars were carrying virgin solvents so Norfolk Southern is the only company facing charges. Imagine, however, that you are a company that ships your hazardous solvent waste via tractor trailer and an accident results in a spill. In this case, you would be liable for any damages and fines associated with environmental remediation and short and/or long term health effects to local residents. Obviously the possibility is very rare, but the EPA has reported that such incidents are on the rise, so it is something that needs to be considered.

Onsite Solvent Recycling Reduces Transportation Costs

In 2023, as most countries’ economies slowly descend into carefully orchestrated recessions to tame inflation, cutting costs is top of mind. Businesses are looking for inventive ways to remain profitable during this downturn in productivity, so they can weather the storm until a rebound in the economy. Cutting transportation costs where possible is one way that a business can significantly lower their costs of doing business. For those businesses that use solvent in their cleaning processes, recycling onsite is a great way to take shipping costs out of the equation. 

MyCleanPlanet Reporting Portal

No matter what, recycling solvents onsite will reduce your transportation costs significantly. CleanPlanet, however, is the only company in the industry that offers our solvent recycling equipment with no capital expense. On Service365, we provide you with a solvent recycler for no CapEx; we install it for you, train your staff on it, and also perform all preventative maintenance and repairs. All you pay for is the fresh solvent it produces for you. With a traditional solvent recycler, keeping track of your solvent recycling efforts for the purposes of cost comparisons is difficult. Every AlwaysClean solvent recycler, on the other hand, comes equipped with wifi connectivity that transmits data from 60+ sensors to the MyCleanPlanet online portal. You can keep track of exactly how much solvent you are recycling onsite and see the savings instantaneously for yourself. 


At the tip of your fingertips, you will have access to a number of data points related to onsite solvent recycling that will make cost comparisons simple and easy. Furthermore, the MyCleanPlanet portal provides insight into the environmental impact your onsite recycling efforts have in terms of waste mitigated and GHGs spared from the Earth’s atmosphere. If you want to take your supply chain into your own hands, save money, and become more environmentally sustainable, CleanPlanet has the answer for you.

Immediately save on shipping costs with our Service365. Give us a call today to get started!

Immediately save on shipping costs with our Service365. Give us a call today to get started!

AlwaysClean 350 smart solvent recycler

Begin to reduce solvent costs, waste, and liabilities the modern way!


Begin to reduce costs, waste and liabilities the modern way.


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