Lubrication is one of the most important parts of any working vehicle or stationary machinery maintenance. In many service and production facilities, almost 3% of the maintenance budget goes to purchasing lubricants– but that’s just a small part of the cost. Overall lubrication-related activities eat up a whopping 40% of total maintenance budgets.
At Lubecore Australasia, we’ve seen how much automatic lubrication systems can improve machinery productivity and also reduce maintenance costs for customers. They’re faster and more accurate, and they also reduce waste and bearing failure.
Disposing of wasted grease is not only an extra consideration for businesses, but it also poses an environmental threat if improperly disposed of or lost due to leaking or over-lubrication.
What is Wasted Grease?
When it comes to lubricating systems, emphasis is focused on handling and application. Much attention is spent on the lubricants before and during use, however, handling techniques don’t only come to an end once the oil has been used. Greater care is needed when the oil meets its life usage – you have to ensure that the lubricant is kept and disposed of in an environmentally safe way.
First of all, what does wasted grease really mean? Let’s look at this on a global scale. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines wasted oil as those that come from crude oil or synthetic oil and have been used and contaminated by physical and chemical impurities. This also applies to oils that are drained from equipment such as lubricants.
Although there are wasted greases which are not considered hazardous, most are handled as hazardous waste. Disposal follows a unique set of protocols. Extra care must be practiced when handling new and used oils, for example you need to exercise caution when it comes to skin contact.
Best Practice for the Removal of Wasted Grease
The ideal way to remove wasted grease is ideally without spilling, leaking, or polluting the surrounding environment. Not only can leaks be a hazard to others (no-one wants to slip on a pool of grease) but it can also contaminate the surrounding environment and even end up in waterways.
The best way around this is to invest in an automatic lubrication or greasing system.
If you don’t have ALS yet for your machinery, the best thing to use is portable filter carts. By using a waste oil drum and attaching a filter cart on the lubricating system’s drain, wasted grease is stored in the reservoir and is pulled into the waste oil container.
In the event that filter carts are unavailable, you can use waste oil containers instead. They should be labelled appropriately and be large enough to carry the oil in the system and from where it is drained. Buckets are not advised because this increases the risk of spills and leakages from constant transferring from one vessel to another.
If wasted grease is stored in large volumes for long periods of time in one location, a spill protocol has to be put in place.
With heightened environmental awareness, many industries made great strides to meet environmental laws. Even before lubricants are used, they are already tested for biodegradability. Biodegradability is the ability of a lubricant to be converted to carbon dioxide and water with the help of natural microorganisms.
If there is a spill, once it is controlled and spreading is completely stopped, make sure you find and fix the source of the leakage permanently
Can Wasted Grease Be Reused?
If classified non-hazardous, wasted grease can be re-purposed. By burning the oil, you can harness it and use it as a fuel and power source. Refining wasted grease into reusable oil sources is becoming more popular and even economical. A lot of automotive oils in the market are refined oils.
More industries are becoming more eco-friendly and it is expected that more attention will be focused on proper oil disposal in the future, with many opting for automatic lubrication systems.