Oil keeps our cars, lawnmowers, and many other machines running smoothly. Once oil is used, it must be managed properly to keep it from contaminating the environment. Recycling used oil is the preferred way of handling used oil to protect the environment and conserve natural resources.
There are several different ways that used oil may be recycled and reused. The National Oil Recyclers Association (NORA) was organized in 1985 to help promote the safe recycling of used oil. Today, members of NORA, An Association of Responsible Recyclers, practice a number of different recycling methods:
Used Oil Re-Refining is a method where impurities are removed from the used oil so that it can be used again as a base stock for new lubricating oil. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this form of recycling is the preferred option. Click here for more information on Re-Refining.
Used Oil Processing reflects the methods that treat the used oil so that it can be converted into a fuel. In some cases, the processing is intended to convert the used oil into a product that can be introduced into the feed of a petroleum refinery, where it is converted into gasoline and other refinery fuels and byproducts. In other cases, the used oil is processed to remove water and particulates so that the used oil can be burned directly as a fuel, typically in industrial burners. Click here for more information on Distillation Fuels Processing, and click here for more information on Used Oil Fuels Processing.
Reconditioning involves the filtration or other treatment of used oil on site to extend its useful life. This type of treatment is sometimes applicable for large volumes of industrial oil. While this form of recycling may not restore the oil to its original condition, it does prolong its life. Click here for more information on Reconditioning.
Despite these acceptable management methods to recover and reuse used oil, there are still instances where used oil is not properly recovered. According to the US EPA, almost 300 million gallons of used oil are Improperly Disposed each year. When this occurs, not only do we lose the value of this scarce resource, but the contaminants in the used oil can harm our environment. Click here for more information on Improper Disposal.
Reference: EPA530-F-96-004, Managing Used Oil, Advice for Small Businesses