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Algoma offers to recycle community's oil.

There are rivers of used oil being wasted in the province. This oil is being burned, spilled on the ground or winding up in our municipal sewer systems.

While half of the used oil is being recycled commercially or through government efforts, the public at large remains one of the worst culprits.

Estimates from the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI) indicate that 250 million litres of used oil are wasted by the public each year.

One of the main groups of offenders are the backyard mechanics who do their own oil changes.

CPPI is introducing a national used-oil action plan which will require retailers of motor oil to educate the do-it-yourselfer and to collect the used oil.

Under the action plan, retail outlets could either set up an on-site collection depot, or contract with a third party such as a nearby service station or municipal waste dump to collect the oil. The retailer will not be permitted to collect a disposal fee.

While national implementation of the plan is expected to be complete by the end of this year, several eager beavers are already getting ahead of the game.

Algoma Steel Inc. in Sault Ste. Marie has applied to the provincial Environment Ministry to set up an oil-recycling depot for consumers to bring in used oil.

Fraser Craig, the manager of environmental health and safety at Algoma Steel, says the company currently recycles 25,000 to 30,000 litres of oil used in its steel mill and has a license to burn recycled oil at its Wawa location.

"What we want to do is expand that service to outside Algoma Steel, collecting crankcase oils from the public in the Algoma District," says Craig.

Oil is re-refined in the Sault by Oil Technology Inc. of Gary, Indiana. Oil Technology comes to the Sault every two to three months to remove water and solid containments from used oil through a combination of chemical and non-chemical separation processes.

"By doing (mobile refining) we are not creating environmental problems by storing or moving the oil," explains Gerald Piper, president of Oil Technology.

Algoma Steel does not expect to make a profit by accepting used oil from the public.

"We already burn it internally because the cost of sending it off is much higher. We'll be lucky if we break even, but the intention is public service," Craig explains.

Rod Stewart of the Environment Ministry's Sault office applauds Algoma Steel's efforts.

"Algoma obviously has shown a pretty good corporate initiative with regard to the environment. There are probably 50,000 to 100,000 litres of used (waste) oil produced around Sault Ste. Marie and this oil can be reused and recycled."

Public meetings are being held on the Algoma proposal and Stewart is confident the company will receive approval this month.

A second firm getting the jump on oil recycling before legislation mandates recycling is Canadian Tire.

"The idea is that if somebody buys oil from us, we take a form of responsibility if they use our product. There is a big problem with people letting their oil go into the sewer, so we will take the customer's oil back," says Drew Yallop, Canadian Tire's president of petroleum products.

All Canadian Tire Pit Stops and dealers, in co-operation with CPPI and MOE, will accept up to five litres of oil back from the customer, provided that the oil is in an appropriate container, says Gail Bebee, Canadian Tire's manager of environmental protection.

This oil is collected by Safety-Kleen Canada Inc. of Bresleau, Ont. and re-refined into lube oil or Canadian Tire's Eco brand oil.

"This is a new program and it's pretty revolutionary. It is proactive on the part of the petroleum industry, and we need the public's participation to make it work," Bebee stresses.

However, all stores are not yet involved in the program.

Harry Campbell, the owner of Sault Ste. Marie's Canadian Tire store, says he is not yet in the public program and neither are Sudbury's Canadian Tire stores.

Bebee says there are still some details in the program to be worked out, but she expects them to be resolved by the end of this month.

Safety-Kleen, one of three Canadian oil re-refiners, has the capacity to treat 140 million litres of used oil and oily waters annually, producing about 72 million litres of re-refined base stock oil.

While there may be enough oil to keep all the re-refiners busy, the problems of oil collection and transportation can create a shortage of readily available supplies.

This is why an oil re-refining project may not work in Northern Ontario, suggests Oil Technology's Piper. His main target markets are large steel plants that have large volumes of oil to recycle.

However, he admits that the market for re-refining oil worldwide is tremendous.

Another problem for re-refiners is the public's perception of re-refined oil, admits Peter Kilty, an oil buyer with Canadian Tire.

Kilty says the company's Eco oil is as good or better than motor oil made from original sources. Still, re-refined oil accounts for fewer sales.

"It's like a lot of other green products. The perception of Eco oil is that it's crummy oil. Once the green movement gains more momentum, it may capture a new market," he says.
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Title Annotation:Report on Energy & the Environment; Algoma Steel Corporation Ltd.
Author:Brown, Stewart
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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