Keeping Used Oil Alive: The Importance of Recycling Oil

Used oil isn’t waste; it’s a valuable resource! There are many economic and environmental benefits to recycling your oil. 

The Re-Refining Process: Giving Oil a Second Life

Re-refining is a multistep process that transforms used oil back into a high-quality base stock for new lubricants. Here’s a simplified breakdown of the steps:

  1. Collection: Used oil is collected from automotive and industrial industries.
  2. Pre-treatment: Contaminants like dirt, water, and coolants are removed through filtration and settling processes.
  3. Distillation: The oil is heated and separated into its various components through vacuum distillation.
  4. Hydrotreating: A chemical process removes unwanted elements like sulfur and oxygen, leaving a clean base stock.
  5. Blending: Additives are mixed with the re-refined base stock to create new oil with specific performance characteristics.

This process significantly reduces the environmental impact compared to virgin oil production, which involves drilling, refining, and transporting crude oil.

Environmental Impact of NOT Re-Refining

Used oil is a slow decomposer and a major source of pollution when improperly disposed of. Here’s how it can harm our environment:

  • Contaminated Water: Just one gallon of used oil can contaminate up to 250,000 gallons of fresh water. Leaks or improper disposal can seep into soil and reach groundwater sources.
  • Soil Damage: Oil spills can smother soil, hindering plant growth and harming vital ecosystems.
  • Air Pollution: Burning used oil releases harmful pollutants like hydrocarbons and heavy metals into the air we breathe. 

Take Action: Be Part of the Solution

Re-refining used oil is a simple yet significant way to protect our planet. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Change Your Oil Responsibly: Take your car to a repair shop that collects used oil for recycling.
  2. Dispose of Used Oil Properly After Do-It-Yourself Oil Changes: If you decide to change the oil yourself, store your used oil in a labeled, leak-proof container (like the original oil container) until you can take it to a recycling center. Never pour it down the drain or mix it with regular waste!
  3. Find a Recycling Center: Most auto parts stores and repair shops accept used oil for recycling. You can also search online for recycling centers near you using the website of the American Petroleum Institute (API).

By making this small change, you’re contributing to a healthier planet and a more sustainable future. Re-refining cuts down on the need to extract and refine virgin crude oil, a finite resource with fluctuating prices. This translates to greater energy security and potentially lower costs for consumers. Remember that re-refining used oil isn’t just good for the planet; it’s good for your wallet too!


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