Trucks and automobiles in the U.S. generate more than 600 million gallons of used crankcase oils and related lubricants, annually. In addition to motor oil and other fluids, vehicle maintenance activities also generate millions of used oil filters, oil- and solvent-saturated rags, and towels. In recent years, improper disposal of automotive oils and lubricants, filters and rags has caused significant environmental degradation. Deliberate spillage of oils on the ground and into surface waters, as well as disposal of oils and other automotive fluids to sewer systems have caused major environmental disruption. These automotive fluids are toxic to fish and other organisms and can cause costly disruption to wastewater treatment plants. Fluid-soaked rags and spent filters also can leach contaminants into the environment when improperly disposed.
Many automotive fluids can now easily be processed for reuse, conserving resources, saving energy, and reducing the potential for environmental degradation. Nevertheless, EPA reports that only a small fraction of the fluids generated actually are collected for processing and recycling. In the case of discharges to fresh water, the U.S. EPA reports that just one gallon of oil can contaminate one million gallons of receiving waters, making them undrinkable.
The availability of easily accessible collection services facilitates the efforts of government vehicle fleet managers, facility operators, and individuals to prevent the release of oils, lubricants, and related hazardous materials to the environment. Recycling oil filters or installing reusable filters rather than disposing of filters, can reduce the amount of discarded waste oil and the volume of solid waste generated. Reusing rags and laundering them also can reduce the generation of solid waste and the potential for petroleum-driven contaminants to leach into the environment.
The primary benefit of the Massachusetts hazardous material collection program is the provision for separation, collection, proper disposal and/or recycling of hazardous materials to keep them from being discharged to the environment.
Another benefit is the promotion of the recycling and reuse of these materials. The new contract requires that the contractor provide for the ultimate disposition of wastes at approved Receiving Facilities through recycling, reclamation, treatment, fuel blending, incineration or land disposal in accordance with all applicable local, state and federal rules and regulations. The contractor is also encouraged to manage the waste materials according to the following waste management hierarchy: (1) Recycled; (2) Reclaimed; (3) Neutralized or treated; (4) Fuel blended; (5) Incinerated; and (6) Landfilled.
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection: www.mass.gov/dep/