Illegally or inappropriately disposed of used motor oil can have a grievous impact on the environment. Studies conducted indicate that a single gallon of used oil can pollute up to a million gallons of water. Used oil filters are made of steel which means they can be recycled. In some developed countries, they are the most recycled materials and dumping them in landfills is illegal in other countries, while some have stringent laws that define how they should be disposed of.
Regulatory organizations such as the environmental protection agency reiterate that used oil filters should only be recycled or disposed of once all the free flowing oil has been drained. Presently, oil filters manufactured in the United States are not subject to dangerous waste regulation provided the filter is:
- Hot drained then crushed
- Broken through the anti drain valve or the dome and hot drained
- Hot drained then dismantled
Hot draining is the process of draining the oil filter near or at engine operating temperature above 60ºF. Basically, the filter is either crushed or punctured while still warm in order to clear any surplus oil. The environmental protection agency recommends hot draining for up to 12 hours.
While lubricating oil hardly wears out, it gets dirty. Foreign bodies such as chemicals, water, dirt or even metal scrapings can mix with it and lower its performance capability. Contaminated oil should be replaced either with re-refined or virgin oil in order to execute its job appropriately.
The contaminated oil can be taken through used oil recycling procedures with studies indicating that approximately 380 million gallons of contaminated oil are recycled annually. Recycled oil is often taken through immense re-refining to eliminate all the impurities in order to produce pure oil.
The end product referred to as re-refined oil should fit similar rigorous compounding, refining, and performance principles as pure motor oil. Re-refining is an environmentally and energy valuable method of managing used motor oil. Producing a gallon or re-refined base stock requires less energy that producing crude oil base stock.
Advantages of Recycling Used Filters and Oil
Oil re-refining helps reduce heavy metal emissions and greenhouse gases as opposed to combusting it as fuel. Re-refining is an ideal way of managing used motor oil, it is environmentally friendly, and converts used oil into a renewable resource. Re-refining used motor oil reduces a nation’s reliance on foreign crude oil.
Used motor oil filters contain oil at the time of disposal. Having the ideal recycling company recover them ensures that the oil is recovered and re-refined. This also helps safeguard landfill space.
Collection of Materials
The manufacturers of oil tanks and filters are responsible for the materials. Many times, they provide big containers for disposing of the used filters especially in large volume shops. Recycling companies however can provide bins or drums for used filters while the shops provide waste oil storage facilities.
While used oil tanks will not be replaced when service providers are changed, shop managers must analyze the state of their used oil storage facilities to rule out spillage or loss when oil is transferred to an oil truck.
If need be, many recycling companies can also provide storage facilities. Used oil filters do not necessarily have to be crushed or drained before being recycled provided they are kept in a bin or drum.
Oil filters are broken down into small fragments while the metals are removed and sold as scrap. Eventually, they are used to manufacture various products such as manhole covers and rebar. The contaminated oil is sold recycling companies. A huge percentage of the used oil is refined, drained, and used as an energy alternative to natural gas while the remaining percent is processed into hydraulic oil.
Used oil can be detrimental to water bodies and the environment in general. Companies should incorporate stringent recycling strategies for both used oil and filters to protect the environment and conserve space in landfills.