A second lease on life

A second lease on life

In this day and age nearly all industries use oil sipping machines in their regular operations … But what happens to this “black gold” after it has been used? And what environmental impact does it have?

According to the Environment Conservation Act, No. 73 of 1989, waste is defined as an undesirable or superfluous by-product, emission, residue or remainder of any process or activity; whether gaseous, liquid or solid – or any combination of these.

The Old Oil Man – an International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 14001 and Section 20 registered waste oil processor – is a founder member of the National Oil Recycling Association of South Africa (NORA-SA). It notes that waste can be divided into general and hazardous waste. The latter is then further divided into nine different classes based on the type of risk involved.

And the risks for used oil are rather cumbersome, as The Old Oil Man – which specialises in the disposal of used lubricating and hydraulic oils, water contaminated with oils and industrial effluents – describes: “Many companies irresponsibly ‘dump’ their hazardous waste in general landfills or even on open ground.”

The company adds that a large percentage of the oil used in mines is simply dumped underground and never resurfaces. “This illegal form of used oil disposal makes the soil toxic and causes groundwater contamination.”

In 2009, the National Environmental Management Waste Act, No. 59 of 2008 came into effect – providing a fixed set of rules that have to be adhered to by all South African generators and disposers of waste. Imprisonment and/or fines of up to R10 million await those that stray from the environmentally friendly “narrow path”.

According to the Recycling Oil Saves the Environment (ROSE) Foundation – a non-profit organisation that manages the environmentally acceptable collection, storage and recycling of used lubricating oil in South Africa – there are several ways to dispose of used oil.

These include incineration at high temperatures in cement and lime kilns. Cement kilns are furnaces that heat limestone, clay and sand to make a compound called clinker – which is then cooled and mixed with gypsum to become cement. Lime kilns are used to produce quicklime through the calcination of limestone. Here the used oil serves as an alternative fuel source to, for example, coal.

Alternatively, untreated used oil can be burned. The ROSE Foundation reports that although incineration is a most effective way of destroying the hazardous waste, it adds the least value. “Burning untreated used oil merely dilutes the harmful components into the environment and, when used in outdoor applications, causes soil and groundwater contamination.”

The Old Oil Man indicates that recycling of used oil is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of this hazardous waste. Here the company can be of assistance as it recycles the oil into a product called burner fuel, which is an alternative to diesel and is competitively priced when compared to other traditional products. “Industrial burner fuel therefore reduces the amount of crude oil that South Africa has to import and the amount of toxic waste going to landfills.”

To achieve this, The Old Oil Man separates used and waste oils into different grades. It is then filtered and blended to provide a consistent industrial burner fuel product. “Oil burners are mechanical devices that combine fuel oil with an appropriate amount of air before delivering the mixture to the point of ignition in a combustion chamber,” The Old Oil Man relates.

These can be categorised as gun-, pot- and rotary-type burners. They can be used in a wide range of applications, from relatively small residential heaters to larger industrial heating applications.

The ROSE Foundation’s Ray Lochan comments: “We rely on the buy-in of, for example, garages and motor workshops. Over the years we have also built strong relationships with some municipalities that provide drop-off facilities for the public. We are grateful for their support, but increased awareness about the used oil recycling industry is needed for us to make a truly significant impact on our environment.”

Black-gold-sipping machines will continue to infiltrate our lives at a greater rate as the world continues to move at a faster pace. This doesn’t have to have a negative effect on the environment or our daily lives, however, as responsible hazchem management can have far more benefits than just a greener tomorrow … .

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SHEQ Management

SHEQ MANAGEMENT is the definitive source for reliable, accurate and pertinent information to guarantee environmental health and safety in the workplace.
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