Maintenance Technology June 2017 - 38
Manage Used and
Waste Oils Wisely
MEch Eng (UK)
Heed these tips to simultaneously befriend your budget and the environment.
THERE WAS A TIME when the
terms "used oil" and "waste oil"
meant the same thing and could be
used interchangeably. Not anymore.
Federal, state, and local environmental
regulations have effectively redefined
both terms as distinct oil states that
must be dealt with in very different
ways. Because legislation differs among
authorities and jurisdictions, it's the
responsibility of plant owners/operators to contact appropriate authorities
for clarification on regulations under
local law regarding the definition,
management, and disposal of the used
and waste oils at their sites.
Identifying 'used' oil
Used oil is generally defined as a
product refined from crude oil or any
synthetic oil that has been used and,
as a result of such use, is contaminated
and unsuitable for its original purpose
due to the presence of impurities
(water or dirt) or the loss of original
properties (through loss of additives).
Like virgin stock oils, used oil
should be thought of as a resource
that can be reprocessed in situ with
an industrial filter cart to clean and
polish the oil while it's in the machine
reservoir. Or, it can be shipped to an
oil recycler where it will be treated
using settling, dehydration, filtration,
coagulation, and centrifugation to
remove contaminants and, if needed,
refortified with its required additive
package and placed back into service-
all at a fraction of the cost of new oil,
with no disposal management and
Alternatively, used oil can be
re-refined into lubricant or fuel oil
This storage area for used and waste oils is problematic.
products that can legally be sold as
new oil. Re-refined products must be
processed to meet the same stringent
requirements and standards set for
their virgin-oil counterparts. Once the
re-refining is completed, the products
are considered brand new oils.
Less expensive to manufacture
and purchase, re-refined products
conserve virgin-oil stocks-10 barrels
of crude are conserved for every
barrel of re-refined new oil made from
used oil-and minimize the negative
environmental impact of oil disposal.
Typical used-oil candidates for
S compressor oil
S electrical insulating oil (except that
likely to contain PCBs)
S crankcase (engine) oil
S gear oil
S hydraulic oil (non-synthetic)
S industrial process oil
S neat (undiluted) metalworking
fluids and oils
S refrigeration oil
S transfer oil
S transformer oil
S transmission oil
S turbine oil.
In some jurisdictions, used oil is
allowed as a fuel oil and can be burned
Although used oil is generally
considered a commodity, in a handful
of states it is viewed as a hazardous
material and, as such, must be treated
as hazardous waste when stored for
disposal. Plants must check with their
local authorities in this regard.
Identifying 'waste oil'
Waste oil differs from used oil in that
it reflects new oil that has become
contaminated and, consequently, is
deemed no longer useful for service. In