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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - The Sentry Group

The Sentry Group, Rochester, New York


The Sentry Group ("Sentry"), established in 1930, is a family-owned manufacturer of fire-resistant storage equipment such as safes, storage containers and file cabinets. Sentry employs more than 400 workers and is committed to manufacturing products with materials and processes that are safe for their employees, the neighboring community and the environment.

Methodologies and Procedures

Sentry management and staff investigated ways to reduce the amount of hazardous materials used, the amount of hazardous waste generated and the amount of solvent emitted from the facility. Sentry developed a partnership with Sherwin-Williams Paint Company to formulate a water-based touch-up paint that would be less toxic than the standard solvent-based paints. In 2000, all the touch-up paint had been re-engineered by Sherwin-Williams Paint Company using a less toxic water-based paint that would adhere to the powder coat paint used by Sentry.

The use of hazardous materials and the generation of hazardous waste at Sentry mainly occurred in the process of coating the safes and other storage equipment. Using solvent-based touch-up paints and paint products such as thinning agents to coat the safes was considered standard practice. The main solvents used at Sentry were xylene, toluene and methyl ethyl ketone. Sentry focused on material substitution and updated their process approaches to reduce the amount of hazardous materials stored on site and reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated from the coating process.

Sentry installed a powder coating system at the facility in 1989. Powder coating is a technique that is used to apply a superior finish onto metal products. However, the touch-up painting required on the storage units was high. The original touch-up paint that was necessary to adhere to the powder coated finish was solvent-based. The amount of solvent required for the touch-up painting process was copious. Specifically, the amount of xylene, toluene, and methyl ethyl ketone used in the painting process exceeded 10,000 pounds per year.

In 1996, Sentry made the choice to incorporate water-based paint into a new state-of-the-art coating operation. Sentry partnered with Sherwin-Williams Paint Company to engineer a water-based touch-up paint that would adhere to its powder coat paint and in 2000, successfully formulated the water-based paint. This material substitution greatly reduced the amount of solvents used at the facility and also reduced the amount of hazardous waste generated.


This project has been a valuable asset to the Sentry Group. Productivity has been increased and the impact to the environment has been reduced significantly. Sentry continues to commit to the use of environmentally friendly chemicals as well as assuring any wastes generated from our manufacturing processes are non-hazardous. The following benefits have been realized from the implementation of this project:

  • The substitution to a water-based paint system resulted in a 98 percent decrease in released solvent emissions from Sentry. The emissions were not transferred to another medium but eliminated through a material substitution.
  • Sentry's switch to a water-based coating process resulted in a 91 percent reduction in hazardous waste generation from 1996 through 2001. The waste stream was not transferred to another medium and will eventually be eliminated. The water-based coating process is non-hazardous and does not generate a hazardous waste.
  • Despite an increase in production of Sentry storage units in 2001, there was an 89 percent reduction in hazardous waste disposal costs due to a conversion to a water-based coating process.

Any comments or questions?
Contact us at: 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750;
518-402-9469 (phone); 518-402-9168 (fax)

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    Division of Environmental Permits
    4th Floor
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1750
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