In 2008, according to its website, Safety-Kleen collected more than 225 million gallons of used oil. In the same year, Safety-Kleen recycled approximately 145 million of it into base oil products for re-use in the marketplace.
This morning, Safety-Kleen announced a partnership with a Massachusetts-based service center to exclusively feature their “green” oil in all its oil changes. “By choosing EcoPower for their next oil change, South Shore residents are helping to reduce greenhouse gases that affect global warming,” said Chris Lucchetti, owner of Lucchetti’s, said in a press release. “We like to say, ‘Change the Planet. Just Change Your Oil.'”
Used oils are taken from several recycling centers to Safety-Kleen plants. They are then re-refined by distilling the oil at high temperature to separate the lighter oils from the heavier substances that will either be converted into antifreezes or fuels to power the re-refinery. Wastewater is treated and then discharged to local municipal treatment facility. The heaviest substances that cannot be repeatedly distilled and re-converted into usable motor oil are converted into asphalt extenders.
“The quality of recycled motor oil is virtually identical to oils made from crude,” said Eric Zimmer, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Safety-Kleen, based in Plano, Texas. “Safety-Kleen’s re-refining of used oil avoids the emission of more than 300,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year when compared to refining from crude and burning used oil for energy. This is the equivalent of taking more than 225,000 cars off the road every year.”
Safety-Kleen’s product line ranges from recycled motor oil to cleaning products and equipment to antifreeze and coolants. It “enables companies to fulfill their green initiatives,” according to its website. “We push beyond recycled thinking to break new ground and create an environment that’s good for business and the planet. In short, we make green work.” The recycled oil is currently also being used by several military organization and government fleets.
Now, there might be a disconnect in saying that “pushing beyond recycled” for them signifies offering a recycled motor oil, but that may just be a matter of semantics. However, what does it ultimately mean to make “green” work?
In an interview with Fox Business News (embedded below), Frederick J. Florjancic, Jr., CEO and President of Safety-Kleen said: “If you can reuse valuable materials, it’s better for the environment.”
In the same interview with Florjancic above, the Fox Business News host suggested that green proponents hate the auto industry. “Environmentalists don’t want anything to do with cars or engines,” he said. “They want us behind a cart… a windmill powered horse.” Hyperbole aside, the host missed the mark. It’s not necessarily the case that to be green means to never sit in a car again. Granted, as a society, we need to reexamine how we live and how we get around. And it’s great that companies like Safety-Kleen exists to recycle an otherwise discarded resource. They have recycled millions of gallons of oil, effectively eliminating hundreds of thousands of greenhouse gas emissions.
But companies like Safety-Kleen are not, should not be the future. They are an inevitability; they are a product of the transition. What we ultimately need (echoing sentiments that have been asserted here and other like-minded sites ad nauseum) is an infrastructure and options that will reduce our dependancy on fossil fuels, not make it more efficient. If five, 10, 20 years from now, EcoPower recycled oil is still our best option for a “greener” transportation industry, may the heavens help us…