Waste oil and used oil

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Approximately 40 to 50% of the lubricants sold are being lost through leaks or in the exhaust emissions during use: the fate of the remaining 60% to 50% of the oil is potentially recoverable (European Environment Agency, 2002).28 Following a period of use that is typically less than 6 months, remaining lubricant is recovered along with various combustion, friction and heat-related contaminants. This oil - sometimes mixed with other contaminants such as water, solvents, antifreeze, brake fluid, paint and fuels -can enter the waste management market.

There is however a wide reported variation between similar economies in the amount of waste oil collected compared to the amount of lubricant product sold. In addition, potential recovery rates are likely to differ due to differences in use patterns. For instance, while recoverability is estimated to be as much as 90% for gear oils and 80% for aviation oils, the figures for brake fluids, process oils and greases are 0% (AATSE 2004). In addition, many rolling oils, quench oils, and other process oils are either incorporated into products or else they are lost during production.29

  1. Although the GEIR (Groupement Européen de l'Industrie de la Régénération) estimates the percentage of recoverable oil in the EU at 46%, ranging from 32% (Italy) to 65% (Finland). www.fedichem.be/en/geir/ figures.htm.
  2. In addition, some waste oils are generated which have not been "used". This includes oil wastes such as fuel storage tank bottoms. In some cases these may be "laundered' for limited types of re-use without undergoing re-refining.

Figure 2.3. Summary life cycle of lubricants

Figure 2.3. Summary life cycle of lubricants

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