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By Steve Kube!

Stomp Out The Number One Cause Of Water Pollution

Permission to use Calvin & Hobbes granted by the publisher.!

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Ive dealt with used motor oil for nearly a half century. Starting with changing the oil in the minibike I built in seventh grade and continuing through the years with go-carts, motorcycles, cars, and trucks. I never paid much attention to the used oil I generated until I read in a Parade Magazine article that it was the number one cause of water pollution in the world. I was amazed and intrigued. I started to study the situation from many different perspectives to understand it, but I always returned to the viewpoint of the shade-tree mechanic changing his own oil. It is my rm belief that in order to prevent the dumping of this resource into the environment, the system for collecting used iiil must be as efcient as the system for distributing fresh oil, and it needs to be as readily available. The solution I propose herein fullls these requirements.!

! ! Contact me directly for further information, strategic planning, and speaking engagements.! !
Steve Kube! stevekube@ gmail.com!

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Introduction!

More water in the world is polluted by used motor oil that anything else. Tens of millions of do-ityourselfers (DIY-ers, or DIYs) who change their own oil, lack an adequate system for recycling the used oil they generate three or four times a year. The discreetly, or openly pour it into the environment. Down storm sewers, behind garages, or along fence lines to inhibit plant growth, a gallon here, a gallon there, the oil ows. IN the US alone, more than 400 million gallons of it are dumped each year. The oil follows the same ubiquitous route of water, each gallon of oil ruining a million gallons of water as it wends its way downstream. Some seeps into the water table, and underground rivers, most of it runs the course of watersheds, poisoning life at the base of our biosphere.!

Some areas are impacted much more strongly than others. The Chesapeake Bay for example, was dying from the effects of used motor oil and other pollutants. The tremendous watershed feeding the Chesapeake Bay delivers massive volumes of pollutants to a delicately balanced eco-system, which eventually became overwhelmed by them. Through concerted effort the problems were confronted and the downward spiral was reversed. The Chesapeake Bay, though it comprises a large area, is only a small part of our planet-wide eco-system. We are fortunate in having witnessed the decline of that system, and learning what it takes to reverse the trend. The urgency of our problems have been brought into perspective and the solution, stopping the pollution at the source, has been proven. The Chesapeake Bay is recovering from a near death experience, but the planet as awhile is still heading towards disaster.!

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Each of our environmental problems can and must be handled if we are to survive on Earth. By tanking on one problem and dealing with it I hope we can learn how to better handle each of the other problems in turn. Here I take on the issue of used motor oil, the number one cause of water pollution in the world. ! Since each source point (each individual DIY), delivers nearly insignicant volumes onto the environment at any one time, there are no dramatic photos of lm footage depicting the equivalent of forty-ve thousand gallons per hour being dumped, twenty-four hours per day, year round, here in the US alone. The impact of such visual aides would undoubtedly have galvanized us to act long ago to handle the problem, much as the footage of the Exxon Valdeez

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spill of 11 million gallons of crude into Prince William sound did. The nearly instant feedback from that spill, the death and destruction, was like a bullet wound. The effects of DIYs dumping used crankcase oil ingot he environment are slow, like cigarette smoking, and no less deadly.!

There is a management system for handling used motor oil, but for the most part it handles bulk used oil generated at professional oil change facilities. It transports used oil from places where signicant volumes are generated to the re-reneries and other end users. The problem is that DIYs as individuals do not generate signicant volumes of used oil, so the system ignores them. Its not that the existing system is bad, its just that it doesnt accommodate the huge number of individuals who generate one or two gallons of used oil at a time. As an analogy consider what it would be like if we had our present air transportation system, which is designed to carry large numbers of passengers from airport to airport, but we we didnt have adequate ground transportation to get the individuals to the airport. In this case we wouldnt fault the air transportation system, but rather the ground transportation system. The same holds true for used motor oil.! Theres no question that used oil is a resource that can and should be recycled. Quite aside form the negative impact it has when dumped, used oil has a positive value when its recycled. Once a signicant volume of has been collected in a given location, it has a value greater than the cost of transporting it to a re-renery or other end user. The problem lies in the collection.!

For simplication I refer to professionals involved in recycling used oil as the management system. They are the haulers, handlers, managers of collection programs, governmental bodies, and legislators concerned with used oil. I also refer to re-reneries, re-processors, and all other users of large volumes of used oil simply as end users. Re-reneries arent technically end users because oil is turned back into useable motor oil which creates a closed loop for the oil, but Im concerned with the collection and delivery of the used oil to these and other facilities. Another simplication is to simply refer to used motor oil as used oil. There are other used oils being generated that are generally vein managed properly, but they are not discussed here. These simplications are intended to help the communication of the central message herein.!

I make a strong distinction between DIY used oil and NON-DIY used oil. NON-DIY used oil refers to used motor oil collected at service stations, quick-lube facilities, etc. This oils is, for the most part, being managed properly. The system for recycling NON-DIY oil works very well.
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However, DIY used motor oil is a different subject all-together. It is not being managed properly and is the focus of this writing.!

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There are issues concerning used oil that I dont delve into, again because they aren't central to the topic. For example, a host of questions can be raised bout the disposition of the contaminants in used oil after an end user processes or burns it. These question are valid, but they have been addressed elsewhere.! Much has been written about the worsening condition of our environment. Most of the popular material brings up so many unresolved issues that the reader is left with a sense of dread and hopelessness about our ability to confront and handle so many problems. Holes in the ozone layer, overpopulation, air pollution, dangerous pesticides, and on and on until we feel like giving up. The proper approach to tackling many probes is to take on one problem and solve it then take on another an solve it, and continue in this fashion. This way a lot of confusion is avoided. With this short booklet I zero in on a specic problem and offer a straight-forward solution.!

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EXCEPT FOR CURBSIDE PICKUP THERE ARENT ANY DIY USED OIL COLLECTION PROGRAMS!

The existing used oil recycling system, except for curbside pickup programs, is not designed to collect DIY used oil. It is designed to haul bulk oil from oil change facilities and other collection points to end users. This system of picking up relatively large volumes of oil from a relatively small number of locations is very different from collecting exceedingly small volumes of oil from the tens of millions of DIYs across the country, and around the world.!

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Most of the efforts of government and industry to increase recycling of DIY used oil have focused on expanding the current NON-DIY used oil collection system. These efforts have largely been through inducements to existing oil change facilities, and auto parts stores to accept DIY used oil, and through placement of additional holding tanks to store used oil. ! In addition to the above efforts theres been a general awareness campaign which in effet calls out to the DIY to bring his oil into the system. This approach focuses on the need sof the bulk iiil hauler to have a signicant volume of used oil accumulated ready to collect, and largely ignores the needs of the DIY. This top down approach as not worked well and never will work to the degree necessary, unless the needs of the DIY are addressed as a priority.! The DIYs, because there are so many of them, have the single most signicant role in recycling their used oil. Therefore it is necessary to thoroughly understand his or her situation with regards to recycling. Specically we need to understand what barriers the DIY faces when it

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comes to entering used oil into the management system and the available options to overcoming those barriers.!

! All DIY used oil recycling is done through two types of programs: ! ! !
1. Curbside pickup.! 2. Drop-Off recycling programs.!

For curbside pickup, the oil is place at the curb along with other recyclables, and the management system takes it from there. Drop-off programs require the DIY to carry his or her used oil to a recycling facility of some sort. They may be run by auto parts stores for example as an inducement to bring in customers, or they can be government sponsored and may be permanent, or as in the case of household hazardous waste round-ups, they can be temporary, or traveling sites. !

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The key, the fundamental basic to successful DIY used lili recycling is properly containerizing the oil for transpiration. Whether we need to carry it a few feet from the car to the curbside, or several miles to a drop-off site, the oil must be containerized properly prior to passing into the management system. This simple fact is usually not given further consideration, but it is the most important factor in recycling DIY used oil and as such, it deserves thorough examination.

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That usable containers are abundant and should therefore present no problem is a huge assumption that should not be made. While various containers of one sort or another are typically available to anyone changing his or her motor oil, each container will have pros and cons, not only to the DIY but to the management system as well. This interface between the DIY and management is critical. Containerizing and passing the container to management has to happen as smoothly and and in as streamlined a fashion as possible. The management system would like to utilize containers with standard characteristics such as being clearly labeled, unbreakable, properly sealed, etc. The DIYs most important factors are: availability and convenience. if we concede priority to the DIY we need to know what containers ll his or her needs, and then if necessary, adjust the management system accordingly.!

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To determine which container the DIY should use we have to examine the available options. In other words, before we go telling the DIY what container he should use, we need to know what container he can use.!

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! Here are the options available to the DIY for containerizing his used oil:! ! Store Bought Containers! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

1. Disposable containers expressly for oil changes, such as plastic bags inside cardboard boxes (I dont know if these are available any longer but they used to be very common)! 2. Re-usable containers designed for changing oil.! Store bought disposable containers add cost to the oil change process, they may or may not be available when needed, and they are environmentally unsound so we dismiss them right away.!

Containers From Around The House!

1. Miscellaneous containers such as milk juges, bleach bottles, anti-freeze bottles, soda bottles, etc! 2. Empty oil bottles!

Re-useable containers purchased for oil changes are intended to be sealed and transported to a recycling facility once the oil enters them. It is an assumption that re-usable containers, which must be emptied prior to re-use, will actually be carried to a recycling facility or otherwise be dealt with in a responsible manner between uses. However, a number of obstacles can thwart their proper use. Many DIYs change oil in more than one care at a time, (his and her vehicles for example). If the re-useable container holds less than the oil capacity of the engines he will be working on, he will need more than one of the re-useable containers, or he will nee dot travel to a disposal site after working on the rst vehicle and before he can work on the second vehicle. If the oil change is done on a holiday or after normal business hours, recycling facilities may be closed and the oil may get dumped into the environment. Also, none of those devices are suited to curbside collection programs.!

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Curbside Collection!

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There are hundreds of curbside collection programs in the US and since these are among the most successful DIY used oil programs going, well start by examining which containers work best with them.! All curbside collection programs exclusively endorse the use of sealable plastic containers. Since some curbside programs distribute one gallon plastic containers for DIY used oil, lets look into this practice rst.!
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One motivation for distributing one gallon jugs (basically milk jugs), is toe standardize the collection process. However, the vast majority of vehicles on the road have a capacity of ve quarts. A four quart, gallon jug imposes a serous limitation on the DIY. The justication for ignoring this limitation has been that since engines typically expend oil, leaking or burning it, there is only four quarts remaining in the sump when the oil change is started. This may be true some of the time, but its a bold assumption which states in effect that the DIY will not have the recommended amount of oil in their engine when it comes time to change the oil.!

One curbside program, recognizing the above limitation and assumption, distributes two of these gallons jugs to its constituents. Unfortunately, we cannot know how much oil a DIY will generate between curbside pickups. We dont know how many cars, trucks, motorcycles and other engines will be worked on. Second guessing by distributing one or two jugs is slipshod at best. This practice also generates unnecessary problems and expense for the recycling program operators. In one of the programs, after the jugs have been emptied, they are washed out prior to sending them back to the DIY. This is a labor intense process. Also, after two or three uses. the jugs need to be replaced. This too is costly. To make matters worse, sometimes the customers dont know what to do with the jugs and they toss them in the trash!!

! ! ! ! ! The Use Of Miscellaneous Containers! ! !

Where the only guideline for curbside pickup of used oil has been Plastic containers with screw on lids a wide assortment of containers have been used. Some with signicant drawbacks.!

! The two most common prelims with using miscellaneous containers are:! !
1. Contamination from prior contents! 2. Lack of proper identication of the current contents as used oil.!

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The use of unwashed bleach bottles and anti-freeze bottles for example can have a serious negative affect on used oil and its recycle-ability. Finding out what is actually inside a miscellaneous container, (oil?, paint?, solvent?, other?), falls into the hands of the recycling agency, the one doing the pickup. ! Just picking up any old container from around the house can cause too many unpredictable problems. If you ask the operators of recycling programs what kind of containers get used, you nd that just about any and all types get used with an assortment of difculties.!

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! ! ! ! !
Original Container Return !

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At the end of every oil change the DIY will always have enough empty oil bottles to hold all of the used oil that just came out of his engine. This is signicant! The original oil bottles are clearly labeled, unbreakable, can be properly sealed, and they were designed for the sole purpose of containerizing and transporting that much oil. They are convenient and useable by both the DIY and the management system. They are also made of high quality, highly recyclable HDPE plastic.!

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Since the prefect container are always available exactly when they are needed and youll never not have enough of them when you need them, distributing containers to the DIY for any recycling program is redundant and wasteful.!

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The only real problem facing the DIY is transferring the used oil from the engine to the original oil bottles. However, this same problem exists if you demand he use a gallon jug or other container.! For as long as oil has been sold in resealable plastic bottles, some DIYs have been using them, among other containers, to hold their used oil. This is not a new concept. By expanding the use of the original oil containers to recycle used oil we benet in a surprising number of ways. The rst and foremost area of benet is to the DIY. By endorsing the use of original container return (OCR), we allow the DIY to use the only container that is always available, in the right quantity, exactly when he needs them. Another prime benet to the DIY comes through the inherent convenience of having properly containerized used oil.!

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Just as fresh or nished oil, is properly containerized and distributed to the DIY around the world with no time limits and through various distribution routes, properly containerized used oil can be entered into recycling programs with no time limits, and through various collection routes.! In short, the single most benecial aspect of OCR is convenience. Both in that the empty oil bottles are always available when needed and in that it permits the DIY the greatest amount of freedom as to when and how he enters his or her used oil into a recycling program. By catering to the needs of the DIY, we increase the opportunity for him to participate in recycling used oil.!

Curbside Pickup and OCR!

! ! ! Lets take a look at how curbside programs can benet from OCR of used oil.! ! ! ! !

The rst immediately recognizable benets come from using clearly labeled, standard containers that were specically designed to hold motor oil. No small thing. When a curbside operator retrieves OCR used oil he can be fairly certain of the contents of the bottles. Ordinances to prohibit reuse of oil bottles for other purposes can increase the certainty.! Also, because oil bottles are most nearly standard in shape and size, they can be handled in standard ways.! Secondly, OCR minimizes the opportunity for contamination. The prior contents are always motor oil, and the bottles are most nearly lled to capacity when used oil is put in them. This leave little room to add anything else to the container. Again, ordinances, signage and labels can be used to help along these lines.!

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Thirdly, this OCR system saves money for curbside programs. Curbside operators can eliminate the on-going cost of buying and distributing containers, cleaning them, replacing them, and redistributing them.!

! ! ! Regarding saddle tanks and racks used in curbside programs:! !

Some curbside programs have racks mounted on their trucks to hold containers of DIY oil, while others use saddle tanks. Saddle tanks require operators to open individual containers and drain them into the saddle tank en-route. This is a limited practice with dubious benets if any. Open containers in the eld invite spills and adulteration, i.e. heavy rain owing into the tanks, etc. When you see how fast operators are required to move you understand. Bottles of oil are opened and dumped as fast as the workers can go. A container of solvent for example would not be caught or prevented from being adde to the saddle tank. In a video promoting curbside used oil collection, the American Petroleum Institute shows this quite clearly. In their video no checking of the contents of the containers is being done tag all. With OCR there is no need for saddle tanks and the difculties that come with them, because the bottles can be efciently handled with the oil still in them. !

! ! ! ! OCR And Drop Off Recycling! ! ! ! ! !

Once again, the key to using Drop-Off recycling programs is proper containerization and convenience. With OCR the DIY can carry his used oil to a drop-off site when it is most convenient for him to do so. This contrasts very sharply with re-usable containers that, once full, must be emptied before they can be used again.! By safely storing used oil until its convenient to turn it over to the used oil management system, the DIY will be more inclined to participate in recycling. With OCR, a wider array of outlet options can become available to the DIY which will also increase convenience dramatically. To understand how OCR could dramatically increase the number of drop-off sites, we need to understand current used oil drop-off sites.! Collection sites have capabilities for storing signicant volumes of bulk used oil. These sites have storage tanks that must conform to strict guidelines, both in construction, and operation, which drive up the cost of owning and operating a recycling facility. Even a simple tank that complies with E.P.A. guidelines, one with a 300 gallon capacity, costs over $3,000.00 to install. Added to the installation and operating costs is the cost of space requirements, including corridor space around the tank.!

Because of the often permanent nature of installing a collection tank, fewer potential candidates for collection oil are able to offer the service on a trial basis. Small auto parts stores for example, with little room to spare fo r stank and little prot to risk, are less willing to get involved under these requirements.!
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The way OCR can overcome these obstacles and increase the number of recycling points is by eliminating the need for a tank at most of these collection points. OCR can do this because of the ideal containerization the original oil bottles provide. Instead of dumping the used oil out of our original containers into a holding tank at each recycling point, we can transfer the OCR used oil, still in the original containers, from one recycling point to another. Just as quart bottles of fresh oil are distributed , quart bottles of used oil can be collected.!

Auto parts retailers, and others who sell motor oil at retail, would be able to accept OCR used oil from their customers and pass it on to the warehouse level in the original containers. Many thousands of retailers would then be able to act as low volume recycling points and a relatively small number of warehouses would be able to act as large volume recycling points. The reason this would work well with in the auto parts retail and warehouse distribution system is this: Smaller auto parts stores rely on speedy access to parts in warehouses. The retailers typically have many deliveries of parts form the warehouses each day. The delivery person coning from the warehouse will be able to pick up the OCR used oil from the retail locations with each delivery and carry it back to the warehouse. This will eliminate accumulation of large volumes of used oil at the retail locations. To facilitate this operation, small crates or tubs, can be used to tote a manageable number of OCR bottles of oil at a time. This is similar to milk crates for example. With small volumes like this no special tanks or special operator licenses or regulations need apply.!

A variation on this type program would be where low volume recycling points accepting OCR, can call a local recycling agency to come pickup the oil when enough has been accumulated. I dont know if its still in practice but the city of Glendale, California had a milk-run program like this. They equipped a pickup truck with a holding tank and would dispatch the truck to pickup small volumes. This must be one of the most expensive programs going. The reduce the cost they could use OCR with the crate concept and skip the special tank on a truck. !

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Dealing With OCR DIY Used Oil Once Its Been Accumulated!

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Under ideal circumstances, OCR used oil would travel fro the DIY to the nal destination, passing through various hands along the way, without ever taking the oil out of the plastic bottles. This would mirror the very efcient distribution of fresh oil from the renery to the warehouses, retailers, and the DIY. However, instead of neatly staking packaged cases of used oil onto pallets and loading these onto trucks for transport, we can simply toss the bottles of used oil into a roll-off container designed for this purpose.!

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A roll-off container for OCR used oil must be leak proof. The back can be sloped like a dump truck. It would also be covered instead of open on the top. It would have several hatches for putting the bottles of oil in. Across the top at the back would be a lid that would open to dump the contents into a special hopper at a recycling facility.!

When a roll-off container at a large collection point was nearing capacity, an empty would be called for. When the empty was delivered, the full roll-off would be taken away. When it reached the recycling facility of the end user, it would be tipped up to allow the bottles of OCR used oil to slide out into a hopper for processing.!

Use of the roll-off container system allows us to work within and existing world-wide system of transport. And very importantly, since the oil is contained within the individual plastic bottles, we achieve secondary containment as soon as they are put in the roll-off. Any oil that happens to leak from a plastic bottle would be contained by the integrity of the roll-off container. Actually, if
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the tubs or crates the bottles are toted in to this roll off are sound, they too will serve as secondary containment vessels. So, this is even safer than the system fresh oil uses as so far as potential for spills goes.!

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To efciently handle OCR used oil, end users will need automated equipment for separating the oil from the bottles. Equipment to do this already exists. Shredding the bottles can be done using different methods, crushing, rolling, cutting, etc. Once the bulk of the oil is out of the bottles they can be further processed to turn them into smaller pieces of plastic which can then be run through a chip wringer.! A chip wringer, like those used to separate metal chips form cutting oils, especially in the aircraft and automobile industries, have been used for decades. One manufacturer states the chips are spun with a force equal to 890 Gs, which slings all but a very thin lm of the used oil from the chips.! If the city of San Jose, CA were to implement this system of OCR used oil, in addition to the 50,000 gallons of oil that is currently being recovered each month, they would recover about 20,000 pounds of plastic from the oil bottles each month as well. Put another way, Each month, 200,000 oil bottles would be recycled in San Jose as well as the 50,000 gallons of oil.! In the Los Angeles area an estimated 25 million gallons of DIY used oil are vein grumped into the environment annually. If a used oil re-renery in the area installed the equipment to handle OCR used oil they would be in a position to receive all the OCR oil from the entire region. They would also be in a position to reclaim about ten million pounds of plastic each year, or about 100 million oil bottles.! When such large volumes of plastic are generated the roll-off system can be employed to catch the plastic when it exits the chip wringer to transport it to a plastic recycling facility where it can be properly washed and re-pelletized.!

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Because of the way this system would mirror the distribution of fresh oil, it can , and properly should be implemented on a regional or nation-wide basis. Just as nished oil has a minimum of restrictions to crossing state, county, and city boundaries, so should OCR used oil be free to cross imaginary lines of demarkation. The primary goal of effectively dealing with the problem of used moro oil should be kept upper most in mind when delineating regulations regarding transporting it.!

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! Implementing The System! ! !

In researching the problems with used oil I spoke with many people involved in recycling in general and particularly with those involved in recycling used oil and plastic. I also spoke with people representing environmental organizations, retailers, and many individuals.! In speaking with buyers at retail stores I ran into a general ignorance of the subject, (though I believe this is changing since then). Most of them arent aware of the magnitude of the problem and /or dont feel it is their responsibility to handle it. In fact, some retailers were still selling disposable plastic bags inside cardboard boxes for draining oil into and tossing into the trash. Some retailers are aware of the problem and actually contribute to solving it. More and more auto parts stores are accepting DIY used oil in their stores.!

In the public sector I came across a wide range of attitudes. Some community leaders expressed a disdainful attitude toward the public, to the loin of stating the public in general are too stupid to recycle properly. Other community leaders that I spoke with, those directly responsible for the environmental affairs of the community, were clearly most interested in perpetuating and expanding their positions, with no view towards efciency. One big city ofcial, without even listening to what I had to say, simply accused me of having something to sell, and turn away without further interest in hearing about any potential solutions to the problems. On the other end of the spectrum I spoke with public servants who are dedicated to preserving the environment, and doing so with the wisest use of public funds.!

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The attitudes of the waste haulers I spoke with varied similarly to those in the public sector. Some are interested in getting the job done efciently. Others are only in prot and perpetuating costly and inefcient systems.! Some end users of used oil were very helpful and informative. Some welcome the opportunity to recycle used oil bottles, others do not.! A lot of the environmental groups I spoke with are caught in a struggle to survive, always seeking funding, never really getting any permanent solutions to anything established.! There is a cross-section of the emotional levels of society represented in the people I spoke with during my research. I heard from the apathetic, the antagonistic, the mildly interested, the enthusiastic and just about everyone in-between. When it comes to resolving this problem some people wont do anything one way or another, to help or hinder implementing a solution.

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Others will attack, not just this solution, but any solution. It seems to be in their nature. Some will agree with proposals but wont be motivated to act. Some will claim they are to busy to do anything, even though they are on the public payroll and were hired to deal with these issues. Some are ready to go but lack the funding.!

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Those in a position to prot most from recovering hundreds of millions of gallons are the large volume end users, the re-reneries and large volume consumers of it. A minimum number of these end users, scattered across the continent, when properly equipped, could consume all the OCR used oil in North America.! By focusing on establishing these outlets by providing the funding to t them with the necessary equipment, they will in turn be able to most efciently establish collection points for DIY used oil. Curbside collection programs will be able to generate more used oil through increased participation and lower their costs at the same time. Point of purchase return will be able to expand greatly, with the greatest inuence of market forces to increase participation.! Going about solving the problem in this fashion resembles putting a carrot in front of a mule to get him to move in the desired direction, instead of getting behind him and pushing.! Funding, through government grants, should be used to overcome the largest risk in implementing this system, which is installing the equipment to handle very large volumes of OCR used oil.! ! Putting in the infrastructure for the described OCR used oil collection system will be much less costly than trying to expand the existing used oil recycling system to accommodate the tens of millions of DIYs in the country,. For the same amount o money it costs to install a bulk oil holding thank that only holds a few hundred gallons of oil, we can buy a roll-off container that can hold several thousand gallons of OCR oil. Where a bulk tank can accommodate DIYs in an area limited by practical driving distances for the DIY, a roll-off container and OCR can accommodate DIYs over a much, much larger area, through retail return, which is already covered by the warehouse distribution system.!

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! ! ! Collecting Small Volumes Of OCR Used Oil! ! ! !

OCR can be implemented efciently even without the participation of the end users in the system. Instead of relying on end users to process large volumes of OCR used oil, the bottles could be processed in smaller volume using the same technology. A curbside collection program bringing in thousands of gallons per month would be able to lower operating costs by processing OCR used oil rather than emptying by hand and managing thousands of containers collected from the DIY. Larger waste hauling companies contorting with many cities in a region typically have consolidation yards where the recyclables from many cities are brought together and sorted prior to sending them to recyclers. These waste haulers are likely candidates for taking advantage of OCR in a big way, even without participation by an end user having special processing equipment. The further down the line the OCR is used however, the more benets we see.!

While some curbside collection programs have been very successful in generating large volumes of DIY used oil, most have not. Even some bigger cities that distribute containers for DIY used oil have only generated three to four thousand gallons of used oil per month. Small cities can be expected generate even less than this. For these operators, dealing with OCR oil manually would be practical, although again, it would be most effect to simply deposit the quart bottles into a roll-off container and to have the roll-off carried away when it lled up.!

An alternative for small communities looking to begin a program of recycling use doiil, or to improve an existing one, is to approach operators of oil change facilities and offer them simple racks for draining quart bottles into their holding tanks. While this wouldnt constitute a collection program per se, it would acknowledge the availability of the original containers to to DIY and get the ball rolling in a productive direction with minimal cost. At a later date, other options for handling OCR will come available.!

! ! ! General Barriers to Recycling Used Oil! !

Dealing with used oil is fraught with potential liabilities. Spillage, contamination that would render the oil a hazardous waste and very expensive to dispose of, the potential for re, etc. Each of these things makes dealing with used motor oil a less than attractive proposition. Ignoring the problem wont help though. We do have ago address it and hopefully well do it in the most effective and efcient manner possible. A lot of communities, agencies, companies, and others who are expected to address and handle this issue are ignoring it. Ignorance and apathy are the biggest barriers to solving this problem. Underneath the ignorance and apathy lies a lot of confusion and conicting interests.!

Much of the confusion over how to recycle used oil stems from a lack of standards. Even the various campaigns to educate the public on the issues fail to adopt standards in their materials. One campaign uses a symbol resembling a sh hood, another uses a stylized drop of oil with a
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recycling symbol inside with the word oil in the center. Still another uses what looks like a bleeding rose. If all these campaigns used the same logo the total affect would be greater than the sum of the effects of each individual campaign. Ideally, standard symbols would be used at all used oil recycling facilities in the world, regardless of the methods adopted. A clear and simple logo would in time become universally understood and contribute greatly to channeling DIY used oil into the management system.!

Too often theres a lack of communication between public and private sectors when it comes to recycling used oil. For example, in most if not all areas with curbside collection, there has been no attempt to correlate the activities of the retailers selling motor oil with the collection of used oil. Retailers in these areas sell devices for changing oil that have no application to the curbside collection programs. Informing DIYs of what to do with used oil at the point where new motor oil is sold would go a long way towards recycling it.!

! ! ! Increase Demand On The Final Product! ! ! !

Another way to increase recycling of used oil is to increase the demand for the nal products, specically re-rened used oil, energy recovered from used oil, and any other product of used oil, and the plastic used in the bottles.! Tax breaks and other incentives should be in place to generate more demand for these products. One way would be to require government agencies to give priority to purchasing rerened oils. The military alone would use a fair amount of it. Police, re departments, public works departments, public transpiration systems, etc. use a huge amount of motor oil. Since the quality of re-rened used oil is equal to virgin oil theres no compelling reason this requirement shouldnt be implemented as soon as possible. utilities and industrial users that are able to burn used oil efciently to generate electricity should be given incentives that would increase the demand for this resource as well.!

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With this said, we still need ot take nto account the inherent difference between NON-DIY used oil and DIY used oil. Unless the increased demand for used oil was terric, which is an unlikely scenario, the demand for the very small volumes the individual DIY generates is till unlikely to have sufcient value to cause him or her to recycle it on that basis alone.!

However, with the OCR system new possibilities emerge from increasing the demand for used oil. When the revenue large volumes of used oil generates more than offsets the cost of accumulating the oil, it will incentivize the accumulation of large volumes of OCR used oil. With OCR and point of purchase return as outlined earlier, through the auto parts warehouse distribution system, warehouses will be in tha position to protably collect used oil. With the added benet of increasing customer trafc for participating retailers, auto parts warehouses and their retail outlets could ultimately compete for DIY used oil. In fact its possible that if OCR collection were in place, competition among retailers to provide such a service would be practical and cost effective under the current demand for large volumes of used oil.!

Many large auto parts retail chains have installed holding thanks in their stores to accept DIY used oil. Customers bring container of used oil to the store, an employee pours the oil into the holding tank, then gives the container back to the DIY. As mentioned earlier the cost of the tank is signicant, the space the tanks require is signicant, the cost of hang the tank emptied is signicant, and the cost of the labor involved is signicant. With OCR all of these costs will go down and thousands of auto parts retailers will be able to participate in collecting used oil.!

! ! ! Fault Finding! ! !

There are no perfect solutions to the problems of recycling used motor oil, there are only best solutions. What we need to keep in mind is the mission of proposed solutions. OCR of used oil opens the way to dramatically increase participation in recycling this resource. In evaluating solutions the over-riding consideration should be: which course of action does the greatest good for the greatest number. Is it possible to set parochial interests aside and harmonize efforts across political, commercial, geographic and other boundaries? !

Because motor oil is sold in resealable plastic bottles around the world, use motor oil can be captured and recycled using OCR everywhere. From third world countries to fully industrialized nations, from villages to major metropolitan areas, DIYs would be able to participate more effectively in recycling by using OCR. Theres no question about it.!

! ! ! Redemption Value On Motor Oil! !

Research conducted by the University of Illinois Center for Solid Waste Management, was well as research done by others shows that a redemption value on used motor oil would provide signicant incentive for the DIY to recycle it. I agree somewhat, but the system must be efcient for it to work. Currently in California there is a four cents per quart redemption value on used oil, but outlets for claiming the rebate arent generally available (as of 1994). One concern that

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springs to mind is the potential for unscrupulous DIYs to add water to the oil to increase the volume (and there are much worse things they could add to it).!

! !

One of the biggest faults of the system being developed in California is the money used to nance the programs would be entirely spent on rebates if the program thoroughly accomplished its goal. However, it is expected that so much oil will continue to be lost, that there will always be enough money remaining in the system to pay for administration and development costs. This amounts to admitting defeat even before starting. This system is a disincentive to the total recycling of oil and an incentive to inefcient management.!

! ! ! ! Ultimate Success! ! ! ! ! !

The success of these systems absolutely depends on an understanding of the difference between NON-DIY and DIY used oil. It requires a focus on solving the problem of containerizing the DIY used oil properly so it can then be turned over to the management system. Specically to help enable the DIY to conveniently put the used oil back into the bottles his fresh oil came in. ! Money spent on that aspect of the system will pay off more than speeding it on any other area. That is square one. Get the used oil into the original oil bottles.!

Where funds are available and the volume of OCR DIY used oil will be large enough, it makes the most sense to work in concert with the end user of the used oil, to install the equipment for processing it. This equipment could even be fabricated in sections, carried to the site and installed on a permanent, or semi-permanent basis. This would allow for trials. Modular equipment like this can be fabricated and shipped around the world once the designs are proven. !

! ! !

Roll-off containers are low cost components of the system and easily multiplied as auto parts warehouses come on line and participate. ! Working from a State level, and cooperatively across state lines, is the way to implement plans that would supersede the domain of parochial interests. It will take some leadership but in the overall scheme of things, this isnt a massive undertaking and it works with the free market system to such an extent that the system could be turned entirely over to the free market once it was put in place. ! Government agencies considering empowering a body of overseers to implement a used oil recycling effort should give thought to establishing performance goals. These should be in the form of statistics on the volumes of used oil recycled over given periods of time, as well as the cost to do it. These gures should then be compared to other recycling programs to nd out what works best, in terms of volume of oil recovered and the cost to do it. Once the best systems are identied they can be implemented in other areas.!

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! ! !

By now there should be little doubt that our biosphere cannot continue to take the abuse weve been giving it. Unwise management of our limited resources must come to a screeching halt. I am doing what I can to promote what I believe to be the most efcient and effective way to handle used motor oil. On the whole, the current system isnt working. DIY used motor oil is still the number one cause of water pollution in the world.! To eliminate this source of pollution requires the involvement of many people, the largest group of which is the DIY. With broad implementation of OCR more devices that make using the system easier will be manufactured and eventually it could become more trouble to dump your oil in the environment than it would be to properly containerize and recycle it.! Awareness of the need to protect our environment through recycling, among other things, is growing rapidly. This is not a fad. This is a trend thats with us to stay. It will take adjusting to, and there will be bumps in the road, however it is the road we must go down. We may or may not be on the brink of self destruction through irreparable damage to our biosphere, bu tit is certain that even if we arent yet on the brink, we are approaching the brink very rapidly.!

! ! ~ S! !

Steve Kube! stevekube@gmail.com

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