Earth Notes - Green Oil

Flagstaff, AZ – Ever wonder what happens to the millions of gallons of motor oil drained from our cars each year in the course of repairs and maintenance? When treated carelessly, it's a major source of pollution to waterways. The EPA estimates that as much as 40 percent of the nation's oil pollution may come from improper disposal of used motor oil by shade-tree mechanics.

Historically, much used oil has been collected and burned in furnaces to produce heat. But today an increasing percentage is now becoming greener by being recycled. It's being sent back to refineries to prepare for another trip through auto engines.

Re-refining oil to produce a gallon of lubricant takes up to 85 percent less energy than making the same gallon from crude. The resulting product looks and performs just like traditional motor oil, and meets the same standards. According to industry estimates, such "green" oil currently curbs emissions of more than a million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year. That's equivalent to taking more than 190,000 cars off the road.

Retail sales of re-refined motor oil are a new, and growing, phenomenon. But such products have been used for years by the U.S. military, many state governments, and companies that maintain large vehicle fleets.

You can participate in the green oil upsurge by recycling your used oil at a lube shop or auto-parts supplier and by looking for opportunities to buy recycled when it's time for a change.