We define used oil as any mineral oil or synthetic base that has become unsuitable for the application it was initially intended for. This definition also applies to combustion engine oils, lubricants, hydraulic oils, insulators, heat transfer oils, etc.
Used oil comprises liquid, toxic and hazardous waste – all generated in very large quantities worldwide.
The lifespan of mineral oil, despite additives that extend its shelf life, is limited. It progressively loses its physical and chemical properties until it should be replaced by new, fresh oil.
The oil is rich in metals, sulphides and chlorine from the additives with which the oil is blended. For this reason, if the oil waste is not properly managed, grievous harm to the environment may arise.
Uncontrolled combustion or discharges to soil or water of used oil, cause major environmental problems:
- A spill could reach groundwater levels and fields where crops grow
- 5 litres of burnt oil pollutes the same amount of air that one single person breathes over the course of three years
- 1 litre of used oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of drinking water
In a bid to avoid harmful effects, Catalonia has opted for a policy of 100% collection and regeneration of used oil – undoubtedly the most suitable system from an environmental standpoint.
Not only are harmful substances prevented from entering our environment, but the purchase of scarce raw material in the country (petrol and derivatives) is also avoided through the regeneration process and the resulting new material available to consumers.