Canadian company continues to lead the way in managing used automotive and industrial oil
Terrapure outlines the process and benefits of recovering waste oil for re-use
Proper management of industrial waste is important to protect the natural environment and human health. One large, potentially hazardous waste stream is used automotive lubricating oil. Waste oil is so potentially harmful to the environment that one litre of used oil is enough to contaminate one million litres of water, or an entire Olympic-sized swimming pool, so it is extremely important that it is managed properly.
Canadian owned and operated environmental solutions provider Terrapure’s North Vancouver used oil re-refinery plays a key role in recovering waste oil for reuse and helping prevent it from harming the environment. In fact, the facility was the world’s first commercial-scale re-refinery to use vacuum distillation and hydro-treating to recover base oil from used lubricating oil.
Since 1983, automotive service, manufacturing, transportation and other industries across Canada have relied on the used oil recycling process pioneered at Terrapure’s North Vancouver Facility to manage their waste and reduce their impact on the environment. So, how does it work and what are the benefits?
Used Oil Recycling Process
Terrapure operates a network of used oil collections facilities in western Canada under its Oil Recycling Services group. The North Vancouver re-refinery and the company’s other operations throughout B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan focus on collecting as much used oil as possible from the automotive services industry (oil change shops, car dealerships and auto mechanic shops) and other industrial sectors for recycling. Annually, this amounts to tens of millions of litres of waste oil that is recovered and diverted from the waste stream in Western Canada.
The used oil recovered goes through various stages before becoming new and useful products.
Used oil must be rigorously tested to ensure it is suitable for re-refining. Lower-quality oil that has too many contaminants or too much water content, for example, is reused for its heat value as an industrial fuel oil.
High-quality used oil that is deemed suitable for re-refining goes through a lengthy process to be recycled. The first three stages of re-refining – dehydration, defuelling and vacuum distillation – remove water, fuel, contaminants and the remaining additives from the used oil. The final stage, hydro-treating, is identical to conventional refining. It reduces the aromatic content, acidity, carbon residue, sulphur, nitrogen and sludge-forming tendencies, while increasing saturates content and improving oxidation stability, colour, antioxidant response and viscosity and temperature characteristics. This process is 100 percent sustainable and can be repeated over and over without degrading the quality of the re-refined product.
3. Selling and blending
Once the base oil has been recovered and passed through quality assurance testing, it is either sold as recycled base oil to other lubricant manufacturers to produce their own blends of recycled oil, or blended with technologically advanced additives to produce a wide range of Terrapure’s Advanta ECO brand or white label recycled engine and industrial oils. Overall, the company is able to recover over 93 percent of the waste oil it takes in annually.
Benefits of Recycling Used Oil
Recycling used oil provides many benefits, including improved environmental sustainability and corporate reputation.
Sustainability: Re-refining is widely recognized as the best option when it comes to managing and recycling used lube oil. Not only does it produce a new recycled product from what may otherwise be treated as waste, but every litre of re-refined oil is a litre that does not have to be extracted from the ground and refined from non-renewable virgin crude. Additionally, in many cases, the same businesses that provide used oil to Terrapure for recycling also use recycled lubricants produced in North Vancouver. This effectively closes the environmental loop of used oil, further enhancing its sustainability.
Environmental: Capturing and re-refining used oil eliminates the risk of it getting into and harming the natural environment. Additionally, the carbon footprint of re-refined oil is lower than that produced from virgin crude. In fact, a Life Cycle Assessment conducted for the Terrapure North Vancouver Facility determined that GHG emissions from its production of recycled lubricating oils were approximately 44,700 tonnes of CO2e less annually than if the same volume was produced through refining of virgin crude oil. It also produces approximately 94,000 tonnes of CO2e less than if the used oil is burned for heat value.
Profile Building: Recovering used oil for re-refining and using recycled oil is the right thing to do and can help enhance corporate reputation. Terrapure provides certificates and other promotional material to its automotive-service customers to display in their facilities, highlighting their environmental responsibility. This lets consumers know they are dealing with a business that cares about the environment and is doing its part to reduce our reliance on natural resources.
According to Terrapure, their company is a true Canadian Trailblazer. Terrapure challenges the industry and itself by continuously optimizing the re-refinery process to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse-gas and heavy-metals emissions, and their North Vancouver Facility uses technologies in vacuum distillation and hydro-treating that were patented nearly 20 years ago and remain the global standard today. The process pioneered at the facility has since been adopted by four other re-refineries in North America, including the only other Canadian re-refining facility, located in Ontario.