Innovation Stories: Safety-Kleen

Signature Product Progress

Alberta’s connection to oil is well known. We are home to the third largest oil reserves in the world and have earned a reputation as Canada’s energy province, producing about 80% of the country’s crude oil.

“Whether it’s heating our homes, lubricating engines, or part of the asphalt underfoot, this is a resource that has served us all very well,” explains Ed Gugenheimer, CEO of the Alberta Recycling Management Authority. “Our challenge as responsible producers and consumers is to find a meaningful role for used oil.”

Used oil recycling is ARMA’s newest portfolio addition and Safety-Kleen is a natural partner. In addition to being an early member of Alberta Used Oil Management Association which was transitioned into ARMA in October 2018, Safety-Kleen has four facilities in Alberta – Calgary, Nisku, Fort McKay, Grande Prairie – and 16 across the country.

“Each year, in North America, we process more than 750 million litres of used lubricants,” says Derek Poole, senior vice president of Safety-Kleen’s Canadian branches and services. “Once treated, this oil is sold back into the market in the form of high-quality lubricants.”

To maintain superior quality standards, the process requires diligence and good communication at every step. Used oil must meet the stringent sampling and pre-qualification requirements set out by our network of six re-refineries,” says Poole.

Part of Safety-Kleen’s role is working closely with waste generators to ensure that onsite practices do not contaminate their oil. It’s not a hard sell considering that those providing the used oil to Safety-Kleen are primarily the ones purchasing the resulting high-quality products that meet both industrial and automotive specifications. The collection of used oil for re-refining into new lubricants is referred by Safety-Kleen as a “closed loop” process. The new lubricants, in turn, are used by the consumer then recollected for further re-refining into lubricants.

The company is continually looking for ways to leverage opportunities within industry for environmental gains. Last year, Safety-Kleen’s lubricating oil closed loop process across the province also helped to reduce 29,012 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2). What makes recycling used oil an attractive option from an environmental perspective is that petroleum molecules do not degrade over time. Used oil just needs to be cleaned up and it can be reformulated into viable products again an infinite number of times.

“It’s a win-win for the companies but also for communities around the world."

-Ed Gugenheimer, CEO

Used oil has never been a good candidate for landfill and prior to Safety-Kleen, there were few other options. This is an innovative and uniquely North American alternative that is delivering significant environmental benefits along with exceptional new products.