Solid Waste & Recycling


Safety-Kleen seeks court injunction blocking faulty Quebec used-oil program

The gloves are off in the fight over used-oil recycling policy in Canada.

The gloves are off in the fight over used-oil recycling policy in Canada.

On Friday, December 3, claiming that a proposed used-oil recovery program for Quebec will result in increased pollution and reduced recycling, Safety-Kleen Canada Inc., filed a motion in the Quebec Superior Court seeking an injunction to block implementation of the initiative.

Safety-Kleen contends in its filing that implementation of an agreement between Recyc-Quebec, an environmental agency of the Quebec Government, and Socit De Gestion Des Huiles Usages (SOGHU), which includes major large lubricating oil brand-owners, actually encourages the burning of used oil, rather than recycling, and is wholly inconsistent with the Government of Quebec’s waste reduction policies.

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.

"This program does not promote the reuse and recycling of used oil," said Safety-Kleen’s Dale McIntyre, director of refinery operations responsible for the company’s Breslau, Ontario, oil re-refinery. "In fact, it will increase pollution by encouraging the burning of used oil as a fuel. Plain and simple, this proposal is bad for the environment."

Safety-Kleen’s court filing cites numerous problems with the proposed program, including:

The proposal is inconsistent with the Government of Quebec’s waste reduction policies, which promote re-use, recycling and reclamation, because the proposal actually encourages the burning of used oil rather than reuse through re-refining. Safety-Kleen notes that used oil contains "heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and chromium, chlorinated solvents, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), glycols and chlorinated solvents as well as potentially containing PCBs. Burning of used oil either releases these constituents directly to the atmosphere or through burning may transform them into even more toxic constituents that are then released to the environment."

The proposal ignores a Supreme Court of Canada ruling regarding the "Precautionary Principle," which requires that "Environmental measures must anticipate, prevent and attack the causes of environmental degradation." Safety-Kleen notes that in Western Canada, where the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI) has already established a similar program, the effect has been to encourage the blending of hazardous waste into used oil, and to promote the burning of used oil as a waste-derived fuel.

The proposal is anti-competitive in that in puts lubricating oil manufacturers in control of a program that has dramatic commercial impacts on the used-oil market, which is the source of Safety-Kleen’s supply of raw materials for producing high-quality lubricating oils that compete with products produced by SOGHU’s members.

The proposal was developed through a process of closed negotiations without public consultation regarding key contents of the agreement, disregarding the principle of fair and due process and public consultation.

The proposal establishes a program under which consumers will be paying millions of dollars in surcharges to fund a program that undermines used-oil recycling.

A program identical to the one agreed to by Recyc-Quebec and SOGHU, and proposed by CPPI, was rejected in July 2004 by the Ontario Government’s agency on waste diversion, which said the program failed to meet regulatory requirements, did not track the final disposition of collected used oil, and did not promote the government’s reduce, reuse and recycle policies.

In 2003, Safety-Kleen’s Breslau, Ont., 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 equivalent.

Safety-Kleen’s customer base includes major retailers, municipalities, fleets and transit authorities, and commercial/industrial users.

Contact Pierre Gendron, 450-464-6085.

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