Safety-Kleen Canada has launched a used-oil recovery program that guarantees to recycle used motor and lubricating oils it collects in Quebec so that they are not burned in facilities that produce air pollution.
"We believe Quebec automotive consumers should be asking ‘Where does the used oil go?’ after they have an oil change," said Pierre Gendron, Safety-Kleen’s Quebec market manager. "And we are now establishing a program to guarantee that their used oil can be collected and recycled back into high-quality oils for use in Quebec, instead of burned as a one-time fuel source that produces air pollution. It’s a win-win for consumers and the environment."
Presently, Safety-Kleen is the world’s largest re-refiner of used motor oil, and is Canada’s largest collector, re-refiner and recycler of used motor oil and industrial solvents. Used-oil collected in Quebec is re-refined at Safety-Kleen’s facility in Breslau, ON, and then returned for re-sale in Quebec.
The new Safety-Kleen used-oil program is an environmentally-friendly alternative to a used-oil collection and burning program designed by the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI) and recently proposed by Recyc-Quebec, a Quebec government agency, and Socit de Gestion des Huiles Usages (SOGHU), a group of large lubricating oil brand-owners, including major members of CPPI. Those companies produce lubricating oil from virgin crude oil imported from the Middle East, South America and Western Canada. If this program is implemented in Quebec, Safety-Kleen is concerned that it will lose its supply of used oil to those who would burn it.
"Very simply, Safety-Kleen’s program guarantees the reuse and recycling of used oil, and theirs guarantees increased air pollution and increased use of imported oil," Gendron said. "Quebec produces used oil that can be recycled back into high-quality oil, comparable in quality and performance to new oil. The SOGHU program encourages the burning of used oil as a one-time fuel, and that oil then has to be replaced. The choice for consumers and the environment is clear reuse and recycling, or pollution and continued dependence on imported oil."
Gendron noted that Safety-Kleen has filed a legal challenge to the SOGHU program, alleging that it is inconsistent with the Government of Quebec waste reduction policies, which promote the reuse and recycling of resources, and also ignores a Supreme Court of Canada ruling about environmental measures anticipating, preventing and attacking causes of environmental degradation.
Safety-Kleen’s new used oil program is simple, effective and consumer-friendly, Gendron said, an example of true "extended producer responsibility" an approach to environmental stewardship that is endorsed by the Quebec Government, the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Under the program, any Safety-Kleen Performance Plus lubricating oil customer that designates Safety-Kleen as its collector for used oil and used-oil containers will not be charged any environmental charges, fees or levies on its purchases of oil and oil containers, and Safety-Kleen will pick up the used oil and used-oil containers for free.
"There are no up-front fees or back-end charges," Gendron said. "In fact, customers actually save money by avoiding certain environmental surcharges and levies. Safety-Kleen’s closed-loop recycling system is the only option that saves customers money and protects the environment."
Under the program proposed by SOGHU consumers would be charged an additional 5 cents on every litre of lubricating oil they buy, and another 5 cents for every litre of container size on a 4-litre jug of oil, consumers would pay an additional 40 cents. Aerosol containers and oil filters will also be subjected to fees ranging from 25 cents to $1 dollar. A portion of the money raised by these environmental charges would be paid to SOGHU-approved collectors, who would collect the used oil, but then ship it off to be burned as a fuel in facilities such as asphalt plants, greenhouses and cement kilns.
"It is wrong to charge customers an "environmental tax," then use that money to promote environmental degradation," Gendron said. "We believe that over 80 percent of the used oil produced in Quebec is currently being recovered, exceeding the target collection rate of the SOGHU program. It makes no sense whatsoever, in this market, to make consumers fund a program that promotes the burning of a valuable resource it’s against their financial and environmental interest."
In 2004, Safety-Kleen’s Breslau, ON, plant re-refined approximately 152 million litres of used lubricating oil collected from thousands of generators across Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and the northeastern United States. Re-refining that used oil, rather than burning it as fuel, avoided the emission of approximately two metric tonnes of lead, 19 tonnes of hydrochloric acid, 242 kilograms of chromium, 781 tonnes of particulates and greenhouse gases, and more than 300,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Safety-Kleen’s customer base includes major retailers, municipalities, fleets and transit authorities, and commercial/industrial users.
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