Overdrive Extra

Randy Grider

Recycled oil offers nice shade of green

| November 16, 2012


The state-of-the-art control room at Safety-Kleen’s oil re-refinery has the look and feel of a sophisticated aircraft control tower.

“Crude is crap,” proclaimed one member of our group Thursday, Nov. 15  as myself and other media participants toured the Safety-Kleen oil re-refinery facility in East Chicago, Ind. No, he is not opposed to crude oil itself. He was simplifying a point he makes whenever he encounters opinions that are biased against using recycled oil. Basically, used oil before it is re-refined is actually cleaner than crude oil, the base for making virgin oil. “What we start with — used oil feedstock — is really far superior to crude oil,” says Barry McCabe, marketing director for EcoPower oil. “Crude oil is junk and only a fraction of a barrel of crude oil has the properties in it that high quality lubricants can be produced from.” For that reason, it takes 85 less energy to make recycled oil than virgin oil.

Safety-Klenn  is the largest collector and re-finer of used oil in North American. The company collects approximately 200 million gallons of used oil annually — about 20 percent of North America’s used oil supply (a much higher percentage is illegal disposed of or burned) — and re-refines approximately 160 million gallons of used oil to produce high-quality base and blended oils. To oversimplify, the used oil is stripped of all contaminants, leaving a base oil, which never break down. Then additives are blended into the base to produce the final product.


This summer, Safety-Kleen held a tear-down of two Cummins engines that had each hit the 1-million-mile mark using its EcoPower heavy-duty diesel  oil with 40,000-mile oil change intervals. The API-SAE-certified oil meets OEM specs for Caterpillar, Cummins, Mack, Detroit Diesel, Mercedes-Benz and others, meaning its use doesn’t affect engine warranties – one of the biggest concerns of those considering recycled oil.

A tanker is weighed before leaving the Safety-Kleen re-refinery with finished product.

The tour, which coincided with America Recycles Day, was impressive. The re-refinery’s quality control is very stringent, having to standards on both collections and final product. While EcoPower is about the same price as most premium oils, it’s not surprising that many companies like Enterprise, Ryder Transportation, Veolia Transportation, the U.S. Department of Defense and numerous municipalities that actively promote a greener environment use recycled oils like EcoPower. Easing our dependency on foreign oil is one of Safety-Kleen’s top selling points. See video. I’d like to hear your thoughts. Do any owner-operators here use re-refined engine oil? Would you consider re-refined oil in your truck if it helped the environment and helped curb our dependency on imported oil?

  • jescott418

    I believe synthetic oil has a even more agressive lifespan if more was done to make a device that could be used to clean and replenish the oil with additives. Just as some repair sites have machines to filter and collect anti freeze and AC freon.
    I think Oil could also be reclaimed and reconditioned on the spot. The problem is not enough people are interested in such a ideal and that the costs could still be a issue.

  • jcp

    jcp Used rerefined oil all through late 50’s AND 60’S on farm equipment and related trucks and cars. the problem then was it was only available in nondetergent (not useable in deisel) It worked great as a lubercant and was 1/4 the price so we didn’t mind shortening changes so engines lasted long and stayed clean in spite of no detergent. Last I remember buying was $.50 a gallon if we supplied our own 55 gallon drums. I will be looking into the new rerefined market and specs as well as where it is available.

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