USED OIL RECYCLING
Car engines, bikes, and lawnmowers require oil to run properly. Used oil must be properly disposed or recycled; dumping it is prohibited. In addition to recycling the oil, filters can also be recycled, or if managed properly, disposed.
Despite legal regulations against dumping used oil, nearly two million gallons of used oil are disposed of improperly of each year. This poses numerous hazards to the environment, including pollution of ground water and soil.
1. Because used oil is insoluble and highly sticky, oil pollution poses a particular threat to wildlife and aquatic life.
2. Used oil contains heavy metals and other contaminants like lead, magnesium, chromium, arsenic, and chlorides.
3. A million gallons of water can be ruined by just one gallon of oil.
4. One gallon of used oil can create over two quarts of new oil. This same amount would require 42 gallons of crude oil.
Recycled, or re-refined, oil performs equally well, and sometimes even better, than virgin oil. Motor oil is 100 percent recyclable and does not wear out. The oil can be re-refined any number of times, producing new motor oil for automobiles or other energy sources.
Commercial Management of Used Oil
The law requires businesses to take safety and preventative measures to avoid oil pollution.
1. Keep all oil containers labeled, cleaned, and repaired.
2. Prevent oil spills and leaks by proper maintenance of machinery.
3. Take measures to contain spilled oil so that it can be recycled as used oil.
4. Take special care when transferring oil from machinery to containers.
Businesses can proactively promote recycling by purchasing re-refined oil products. These products must meet the same requirements as newly produced virgin oil.
Recycling Your Own Oil
Service stations are required to follow certain handling rules, in order to control the amount of improper oil disposal. However, consumers who change their own oil often dispose of it on the ground, in the trash, or into storm drains. Consumers who change their own oil should also recycle and practice safe handling practices.
1. Be careful not to spill any used oil onto the ground.
2. Place used oil into a clean, sealable plastic container. Do not use containers that previously held antifreeze, gasoline, bleach, or any other chemical. These could contaminate the oil and prevent refining.
3. Take the used oil to a retail store or service site that recycles.
OIL RECYCLING PROCESSES
Depending on the intended end product, used oil is recycled:
1. On-site: Some businesses may recondition the oil, removing impurities and enabling it for immediate reuse. Though this process does not create as high a quality of oil, it does enable prolonged use of the oil.
2. At a petroleum refinery: These processors change used oil into gasoline or coke.
3. By re-refining: As a more thorough treatment, re-refining restores used oil to its original state. This process enables the oil to be recycled indefinitely, effectively closing the recycling loop.
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