• What Is Waste Oil Recycling? And How Can You Get Involved?

Fuel for Thought

What Is Waste Oil Recycling? And How Can You Get Involved?

Jan 02 2015

A politically and environmentally-charged subject worldwide, oil drilling and its damaging environmental effects are a frequently debated topic. While major news broadcasters tend to focus on the large-scale impacts of crude oil industry geopolitics, jobs and the environment, many other petroleum-based products and lubricants such as ordinary engine oils are often overlooked.

The Oil Recycling Association (ORA), a UK trade association for the oil recycling industry, believes that some 350,000 tonnes of lubricating oil is wasted every year in the UK. That’s about half of the total quantity of of new lubricants introduced to UK markets every year, roughly 700,000 tonnes.

With such vast quantities of waste oil disposed of each year in the UK alone, what options are there for oil recycling?

Recycling and recovering waste oil

Waste oil is a term applied to oils that have been contaminated by other substances and consequently may or may not be hazardous. Due to potential toxicity of waste oils, the British government introduced a number of environmental regulations which regulate and require the safe disposal of oil in order to reduce damage to the natural environment, humans, and living organisms.

Across many parts of the world, and in the UK in particular, waste oil recovery and recycling is now big business, and petroleum-based products like motor and cooking oils are highly desirable in the recycling industry. Waste oils can be cleaned up, and go on to be used in many other industries. There are lots of excellent examples – here are just a few:

A government report in 2013 estimated that if the 250 million litres of cooking oil used every year in the UK was collected, it could be converted to up to 225 million litres of biodiesel.

How can you get involved?

Options for recycling waste oil vary worldwide, but for those living in the UK, waste oil collection services and drop off points are widely available and accessible in most regions of the country.

As an incentive, some collection companies will pay for oil they collect or provide money-off vouchers for purchasing biodiesels and other recycled produce. The environmental benefits of recycling even a small amount of waste oil can be surprising too. According to bioliquid company Living Fuels, one litre of used cooking oil can provide enough renewable energy to power an oven for 4 hours, or a flat screen TV for 3. Oils poured down drains also cause an estimated £15 million worth of damage to UK drains and sewers each year - quite literally, money down the drain.

So whether you’re looking to recycle waste oil from your car, or wish to improve the environmental commitments of your company through waste oil recycling, businesses of any size, councils, interest groups, and individuals can all contribute to, and benefit from waste oil recycling. 

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