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Used Oil

Draining USED OIL



Many motorists believe that Used Motor Oil gets recycled into "fresh" Motor Oil.

Government agencies promote Used Oil collection

Laws in many States limit or prohibit Used Oil disposal

Yet Lube Oil producers do NOT want "recycled" Basestock, because customers are unwilling to pay a premium price for Motor Oil made from "Used Oil".

Majority of collected Used Oil gets burned or disposed of "legally".

Most "do-it-yourself" oil changers dispose of oil improperly or illegally.

In the USA over 400,000 Gallons of "Used Oil" get dumped into the environment daily.

The proven FACT is that you do not have to change Motor Oil for up to:

If you use:

SynLube™ Lube−4−Life®

The FIRST Oil you do NOT change !

It is also the FIRST and only Oil that can be 100% re-processed and used again and again!

Want to learn the TRUTH ?

.... read on !

What is Used Oil ? (Definition)

According to Federal Government agency - the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as well as most State agencies, Used Oil is defined as follows:

Any oil that has been refined from crude oil and has been used is "Used Oil."

The term "Used Oil" also applies to any oil that is no longer useful to the original purchaser as a consequence of extended storage, spillage or contamination with non-hazardous impurities such as dirt and water.

In California, used oil is a "Hazardous Waste".


Why is Used Oil:
"Hazardous Waste"?

Crude oil straight out of the ground is processed into numerous products like gasoline, lubricating oils and asphalt. Uncontaminated Crude Oil is generally fully bio-degradable. Some products derived from Crude Oil through extensive refining and purification (White Oil) are actually so "pure" that they are used as Baby Oil, Petroleum Jelly, or Lamp Oil.

However these "pure" products are generally too expensive to produce and are unsuitable for use as lubricants in modern high speed engines.

To make some of these products, an "additive package" is mixed with the crude oil for better performance.

To manufacture lubricating oil for automobiles, some additives include detergents, corrosion inhibitors, and rust inhibitors.

While automobile engine is running, the motor oil collects heavy metal (lead, cadmium, zinc, and barium), iron steel particles, and copper. Several of these contaminants are toxic and harmful to the environment.

The hazards associated with used oil result from the various additives used in its manufacture and from the heavy metal contaminants picked up from use in the internal combustion engine.

Oil poured down household drains, or directly onto the ground, can work its way into the waterways and ground waters.

Illegally disposed of oil can pollute the groundwater with contaminants such as lead, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium, arsenic, chlorides, cadmium and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

One quart of oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water.

Used oil from a single oil change can ruin a million Gallons of fresh water !

That is one year supply for 50 people!

One Quart of Used Motor Oil will pollute up to 40,730 Square Feet of Soil!

Making it non-productive for farming or plant growth for up to 100 years!

Crankcase oil drainings have been reported to account for more than 40 percent of the total oil pollution of harbors and waterways in USA.

Used Motor Oil, if handled improperly and without proper personal protection and hygiene is proven to be cancer causing.

Look at any back label of Petroleum or Synthetic Motor Oil made after 1985, and you will find following statement:

Avoid prolonged or repeated skin contact with used motor oil. Used motor oil has been shown to cause skin cancer in laboratory animals. Thoroughly wash exposed areas with soap and water.

It is therefore important that we learn and practice the proper and safe methods of disposal for used motor oil.

Where does Used Oil come from ?

Used Oil sources:

Automotive 70%
Industrial 15%
Mixed (Other) 15%

What happens to Used Oil ?

Used Oil destiny:

Improper Disposal 40%
Collected for Re-cycling 55%
Mixed (Other) 5%

Can Used Oil be Recycled?

Used motor oil is usually not recognized as a recyclable material and generally is not viewed as a significant problem. But let's look at the facts:

How is Used Oil Recycled ?

The illustration below shows typical sequence that Used Oil undergoes during it's Recycling process:

Used Oil Recycling

What is the Law ?

Although the definition of what used oil is not uniform in all states of USA, nor it is treated the same Internationally, some States, notably Alabama and California, consider used Motor Oil a serious problem.

Since its implementation on January 1, 1987, California's Management of Used Oil Act (SB 86) has prohibited the disposal of used oil by discharge to sewers, drainage systems, surface or ground waters, water courses or marine waters, by domestic incineration or burning as a fuel, or by deposit on land, unless otherwise authorized by law.

What Really happens with Recycled Oil ?

The well intentioned and well sounding "theory" that is propagated by environmentalists, State agencies and many other entities is a fact illustrated below:

Unrealistic Equivalents

So in theory using similar "slightly" deceptive presentation it appears that recycling oil from two typical automotive oil changes would "save" 84 gallons of crude oil.

Unfortunately in a "real life" scenario, also availability as well as economy has to be considered. If something is more difficult to do, it is not done. If something is much more expensive to do, it is not done profitably

The reality is:

  1. NOT ALL collected oil is Recycled
  2. MOST of  "recycled oil" is NOT made into automotive motor oil.
  3. Motor Oil made from "recycled" Basestock costs MORE and takes MORE energy, time and effort to make, than making Motor Oil from virgin Crude Oil
  4. Consumers perceive Motor Oil made from "recycled" Basestock as "USED" and therefore "NOT AS GOOD" and also they think it should cost LESS and not MORE

"Collected" Used Oil destiny:

Proper Legal Disposal* 33%
Recycled into other products 18%
Burned as Fuel 46%
Recycled into Motor Oil 1%
Lost in Processing 2%

* In California for example millions of gallons of collected used oil are sprayed annually onto shoulder of Interstate Highways (I-5, I-10, I-15) within California by State operated "CAL-TRANS", it is used as a "weed killer". This is because there is NO demand for the collected used oil, and because of California environmental laws, the processes needed to make the collected used oil useful have also been outlawed.

The same application on State and or Local Highways by Local entities, however is Illegal in California.

The only other alternative is to export the collected used oil out of California, and pay someone to take it!

So far there are NO takers!

In Las Vegas, Nevada USA, the what to do with collected used oil is even more problematic, and while many vehicle owners and mechanics do take the used oil to collection centers, once it is there - what to do with it ?
Transporting it to any processor out of Clark County (county where Las Vegas is located), is several hundred miles of transportation !

Use the collected Used Oil to combat "dust" in construction zones, it is just sprayed on the Road !

USED OIL used to combat dust
By "Fabulous Las Vegas Magic" the Used Hazardous Waste Oil becomes "FRESH OIL" !

To understand why the in theory good intentions of environmentally friendly consumers do not materialize in "real life" we have to go back to understanding what is produced from Crude Oil and in what proportions and quantities. The diagram below should help to illustrate this point:

Crude Oil Uses by Fraction

The fact is that only 2.5 quarts of lube oil Basestock are produced from 42 gallons of crude oil (One barrel), is because there is very little demand for lube oil by comparison to Gasoline or Diesel Fuel.

Unfortunately, not ALL of the crude oil can be converted into either Gasoline or Diesel

100% of Crude Oil, cannot be cost effectively converted into 100% of any of the desirable "fractions" and therefore there will always be some percentage of the barrel that can be utilized ONLY for lube Basestock.

Some undesirable fractions are left; they range from Petroleum Gas to Tar and Asphalt.

Some of this undesirable stuff is heavy oil, from which ONLY lubricants can be economically made.

If supply matched the demand for this lube oil Basestock, life would be just lovely!

Unfortunately, there is presently far more low-grade lube oil stock available than the world needs.

In the USA the "surplus" is estimated at about twice of what is really needed by consumers and industry.

More and more of lube stock is available daily!

As modern vehicles use LESS oil each year, and are driven more so they burn MORE fuel, but use LESS motor oil in the process.

The lube oil stock essentially becomes a worthless commodity, which becomes a nuisance to get rid off.

In the old days, if there was too much of an undesirable petroleum by-product left from the refinery stream, the oil was burned, or pumped back into abandoned oil wells. Either practice has been illegal in the USA since about 1985. To export unneeded motor oil Basestock to other countries for dumping is way too expensive, except if you are very close to MEXICO.

The really BIG Oil Company like ExxonMobil does not even consider motor oil Basestock to have great commercial value.

Their FINISHED Petroleum Motor Oil is sold almost for the cost of the packaging and the cost of transportation.
It is basically a non-profit item.

ExxonMobil can and does beat every other motor oil in the market place that is of the SAME quality level in price, every time!

ExxonMobil with the exception of Mobil 1 (a major synthetic oil brand that they now control) does a very poor job on promoting their own lubricants and base oils.

Majority of the Motor Oil and Base Oil that is produced by ExxonMobil is sold in bulk to independent smaller companies that re-brand and repackage it with their own Brand Name.

In USA currently SHELL is the largest marketer of Automotive Motor Oils, but with the exception of their ROTTELA brand marketed to Heavy Duty Truckers, SHELL as a Motor Oil brand does not have a significant market share (3%), SHELL however owns both PENNZOIL and QUAKER-STATE brands and sells their Motor Oils for Light Duty Automotive use under those brand names that are far more famous, their combined market share is over 36%.

That is reason why "brands" like "Pennzoil and Quaker State" used to spend over $47 million annually on advertising to promote "3,000-mile Oil Change" and hope that consumers will buy their more expensive oil because they perceive it as "better".

It so happens that SHELL also owns now 100% of Equilon Lubricants former joint venture with TEXACO which also gives SHELL the right to the Havoline Motor Oil brand. On top of it SHELL also owns and operates all "Jiffy-Lube" and "10-minute Quick Lube" oil change outfits.

Since production of Motor Oil from "recycled" Basestock is time consuming, expensive and not appreciated by consumers, so far every business venture has collapsed or had to depend on heavy government financial subsidy.

In California, which without a doubt is the most environmentally conscious State, the only company that collected and re-refined Used Motor Oil - Evergreen Oil - filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 9, 2013.

The only way to reduce the amount of Used Oil that is collected is to convince the vehicle owners to go LONGER between Oil Changes !
As a result California has spent thousands of Dollars to promote their "check your number" website:

"Encouraging Californians to look up the recommended oil change interval for their vehicle instead of defaulting to the old standard of "3,000 miles". With today's advanced technologies, many car makers confirm that their automobiles can now maintain top performance and engine life while going longer between oil changes.
Thus, it makes economic and environmental sense to "check your number" and be sure you are not changing your oil too soon, unnecessarily wasting money and resources.
The second goal is to inform residents on the proper way to collect and recycle used motor oil and filters. There are many free, local collection centers available throughout the State to help drivers do their part to keep harmful toxins out of the groundwater."

U.S. Post Office which operates more vehicles in the USA than any other entity, has been ordered by a Presidential Order to use Motor Oil made from Recycled Basestock for "at least" 20% of their vehicle needs.

Because the "recycled" motor oil is so much more expensive, the "operating" costs for the U.S. Post Office fleet have doubled.

Translated to a cost that can be easily understood, in USA every letter that is mailed costs a penny more to send.

Till the cost of a Barrel of Crude Oil exceeds $100 or more, recycling of Used Motor Oil into more Motor Oil is not cost effective, and there are doubts that even at $120.00 per Barrel, or more it will never be a break-even proposition.

In order for Used Motor Oil recycling to be a profitable long term venture, the per Barrel prevailing price for Petroleum Crude would have to be over $150 and be stable for at least 3 to 5 years.

This is because so much energy is required to complete the process, and at least in the USA, most of the energy that is used to generate other forms of energy such as electric power is derived from "burning" of fuels derived from Crude Oil or Coal.

Substitution of Used Oil for a fuel for power generation is theoretically possible. In practice, however, because of the "heavy metal" and sulfur components in Used Oil, unless it is processed and cleaned first, serious Air Pollution problem results when burned "AS-IS".

Each time there is sharp increase in Finished Fuel Cost, that is pump price for Diesel Fuel and Gasoline, incredible claims and press releases by mouse size oil companies get the spot light, for example this one from February 11, 1992:

The Lyondell Petrochemical Company said today that it had found a way to recycle used motor oil and other lubricants into gasoline and heating oil. Many large refiners for years have converted used commercial oils into lubricants or industrial fuels. But Lyondell seems to be the first to produce what it says is high-quality gasoline from recycled lubricants. Refining experts said the process was inexpensive and, if adopted by major refiners, could produce large amounts of gasoline while reducing ground-water pollution from used motor oils.

But 21 years latter this magical process is still not utilized, as in reality it is not, and never will be, cost effective because the resulting fuel costs more to produce than the current Pump Price for equivalent product!

What is being done about Used Oil ?

In most States and Localities there are already extensive motor oil recycling programs in place. And more State and Local agencies are trying to provide more opportunities for recycling used oil.

As a result, many service stations now accept used motor oil from the public for a nominal charge, provided the oil has no water or materials added to it. A number of California cities have regular curbside pickup of used oil; several others have drop-off facilities. A number of communities holding household hazardous waste collection events have publicized the local waste oil recycling programs.

Hazardous waste haulers have provided communities without used oil recycling programs with waste oil tanks for oil collection at collection events

Should I bother with Used Oil recycling ?

Recycling is TIME consuming and it does require an EFFORT on your part.

In many localities you are also charged MONEY when someone accepts your Used Oil from you.

In short you "should" collect and make available for collection ALL Used Oil that your vehicles generate.

That is the ONLY way to keep our EARTH clean!

In many places it is also a LEGAL requirement that you dispose of Used Oil properly.

But the fact is that majority of private individuals and "do-it-yourself" Motor Oil changers dispose of Used Motor Oil and of other automotive fluids, either improperly or illegally.

That is why over 40% of Used Motor Oil never gets collected, it just disappears into the environment, and someone always has do assist in that disappearing act as it does not happed by itself.

How Do I Properly Dispose of Used Oil?

You can participate in oil recycling by following these tips:

Now you know about Used Oil ! (Conclusion)

Now that you REALLY know what happens to every gallon of Used Motor Oil that you on the average generate with EACH and EVERY oil change, you can readily appreciate:

SynLube™ Lube−4−Life®

The FIRST Oil you do NOT change!

But even more important, is that most SynLube™ products can be "re−processed" with minimal waste into their " original fresh" state and used over and over again.

The best news is that SynLube™ re-processing costs are about 1/10th of the cost of manufacture of "new" SynLube™ products and therefore the operation is not only ecologically sound but also economically advantageous!

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Last modified: 2013-04-25

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