From heating the premises to powering the works van, waste oil is no longer waste, but a valuable resource companies can use or sell to reduce their carbon footprint and become more cost effective. But maximising the benefit from ‘second-hand’ oil requires careful and diligent storage. Spill Control Centre explains what to look for.
Every Yorkshireman is no doubt familiar with the expression:
‘where there’s muck, there’s brass’.
The thought suggests there’s money to be made where there are dirty jobs to be done, and it has been the case for centuries – author John Ray first coined it in 1678 in a small book called “A Collection of English Proverbs’. Doubtless there was more reason for its use in Victorian Britain, driven by the money-making aspirations of the owners of industrial processes.
But 21st-century Britain offers a new layer of meaning for the old phrase; a combination of securing another income stream whilst simultaneously making sure that England’s ‘green and pleasant land’ stays, well, green and pleasant.
This is the environmental dimension involved in waste oil. Immediately of course, ‘waste’ becomes a misnomer; because what was once seen as waste in one industry now becomes a valuable raw material for another. All kinds of oil and oil-bearing products have ‘after-market’ values depending on what they are, but all have one thing in common – the need for careful handling and storage once their primary function is over.
Any kind of spillage not only threatens the environment, but also reduces the potential financial return from the material’s resale. And that can be considerable. It’s possible to recycle used cooking oil into fuel for diesel-powered cars and vans; fuel which can cost just pennies a litre, rather then the conventional £1-plus pump price.
Used motor oil – from just about any engine – can be cleaned and used again as a fuel oil. Oil giant Mobil says a gallon of used oil provides a gallon of fuel oil, but, with more specialist processing, can be re-refined back into lubricants, delivering a 60% yield.
Why the right storage solution is important
It’s really important to pick the right storage solution, as Defra points out in this guide on our Advice pages. Finding something to keep the oil in is child’s play; it can go back into the same drums it came in, so long as there’s no cross-contamination caused my mixing the contents. However, storing the drums is another matter. They can’t go on open ground; any spillages could leach into watercourses, and they can’t safely be stored on concrete or other impermeable surfaces, because spillages will make the area slippery and unsafe.
Even the most careful and environmentally-conscious of employees can make a mistake from time to time, and cause a spill. With luck, it will be a small one. However, the right option is to contain any spill with spill containment products which have built-in spill collection capacity, negating the risk from any kind of spill.
Appropriate storage includes spill pallets that have integral drip trays, sealable cabinets to
protect drums from the elements, and some come equipped with wheels to make manual handling completely trouble-free. The permutations available are numerous, but the right option will have a certain number of features, no matter what its design or size.
Ten key points to look out for when buying an oil storage system
1. Does it have integral spill containment capacity?
2. Is the construction durable, using oil-resistant materials such as polyethylene?
3. How strong is it? Drums full of oil can be very heavy, of course!
4. If it’s going to live outdoors, does it have UV inhibitors to ensure the maximum service life?
5. Is it weather resistant?
6. If necessary, does it have flexible shelving arrangement for drums and bottles of different sizes?
7. Is it built with ease of manual or forklift truck handling in mind?
8. How quickly can it be delivered?
9. What will delivery cost, bearing in mind the sizes of some of these solutions? Pick the right supplier, and delivery can not only happen in two or three days, but could also be free.
10. Will the supplier also be able to provide ancillary spill containment equipment such as a range of absorbents that I might need too?
Picture: Bat09mar via Dreamstime.