Now I’m gunna tell you about my new love….and how to recycle your motor oil

 I have to admit, I will not be popular with my “HD only” brethren but, I am going green!  My Road King will have to take a little rest because there’s a new bike on the block….

Brammo Enertia (© Bruce Whitaker)After two years of considering and two years of research, I have finally decided to take the plunge.  The factor that tipped the scale and made me decide to go for it was the new pricing passed down by the manufacturers, Brammo Motosports, that brought the price from $12,000 down to the current $7999.  In addition to the great new price are the incentives available through your  state for owning an electric vehicle that come in the form of tax credits. Check with the people that do your tax preparations to determine what your state allows because the differences can be quite great.   In Oregon we can enjoy approximately a three thousand dollar credit. 
But, the greatest pleasure of all is to watch how proud my grand-daughter is of me.  She has been the keeper of the planet for as far back as I can remember.  I believe she may have been born saying “recycle”.
On that note, I will share with you a story that I researched because of her.  

Where does my oil go?

      I am a girl that likes to get my hands dirty.  Even if that means breaking a nail or staining my jeans.  Doing a job myself fills me with a sense of pride and accomplishment and when I can do the maintenance on my bike, I do it.  Most of the time I am alone while I’m working and it offers me “alone time” to ponder many things.  One of the things I was pondering one day as the black gooey mess was pouring out of my bike was, “where does my oil go after I leave it out on the curb?”.  Provided you are recycling your oil, and you should be, you might have pondered this very same question.  If you don’t recycle and you weren’t pondering, read ahead anyway. Its kind of an interesting story.

     We have certainly been hearing a lot about our “carbon footprint” on old Mother Earth.  The ability to recycle and reuse is one more way we can avoid using her up.  Everything we use again is one more thing we don’t need to snatch from the bosom of Ms. Earth.  The United States uses over 20 thousand barrels of crude oil and petroleum products a day.  That’s a bunch!  And, get this. 40% of oil pollution in the US is from improperly disposal of motor oil or leakage from automobiles. The results are lead, benzene, zinc, and magnesium in our waterways and in the underground aquifers that supply our drinking water. Being a part of recycling used oil may only seem like a small thing but, it’s that one small thing that has an impact you can’t imagine. With the population of the US being over three hundred million and the world population being over six trillion, you can see how that one little thing can quickly turn into a million little things and then a trillion!  And if everyone did two little things….well, don’t get me started. The cutting, the drilling, and the digging will never stop, but we can surely slow it down.  It’s all about supply and demand!  Here is the story of where my oil goes and why it makes a difference.

     The first thing that happens to my oil is pouring it into a tired old milk jug that was destined for the recyclers anyway.  Ask your local recycler how they want the oil packaged up, to make sure you meet the requirements they set. Always use the lid to keep additional water and debris out of the container. After our local refuge collectors get all the oil left by its customers, they take it for a little ride. The next stop for the oil is the local landfill. 

      I stopped by my local landfill, Hillsboro Waste Management in Hillsboro, Oregon, and talked to the nice people in the office.  I was told that although they do receive the local used motor oil, it is actually handled and processed by a company called Emerald Recycling in Vancouver, Washington.  This company is equipped to transport, transform, and market this used up oil that would otherwise be considered waste.  With the phone number and address in hand, I headed for home.  A quick trip on the Internet revealed what looked like quite an operation at that location and several others across the United States.  Some were processing plants, some holding plants.  Their website boasts: Recycling and Recovery – Transforming waste oil, solvents, oily water, mixed fuels and more into custom and off-the-shelf manufactured products as well as fuels for energy recovery.  This was intriguing!

      A phone call put me in touch with a young man named Todd Hurn, a representative of Emerald Recycling and one of their managers.  He explained that the facility is under contract with Conoco Phillips to process this used oil to be resold and reused.  He was very informative and walked me through the process.

     Emerald receives its used oil from companies that change our oil, automotive repair companies, gasoline stations, and individuals that have provided the product to a recycler.  At that point it is transported to their facility for salvage. Upon arrival the used oil goes through a process Mr. Hurn refered to as “cooking.”  He explained that the process of heating the oil was meant to remove any water.  The oil is heated hot enough to make the whole thing come to a nice rolling boil and, in turn make the water in the mix disperse in the form of steam.  Once the water is removed to a level of less than 2%, the oil goes through a series of screens to remove any and all impurities and debris.  The finished product is then tested to make sure it meets the Conoco Phillips specifications.  And with that, you have a product that can be used again.

        Mr. Hurn very generously provided me with the name of another very nice person that took over from there.  Another phone call to their facility in Seattle, Washington, put me in touch with Jim Munnell, another representative and manager for Emerald Recycling.  He explained that the newly processed oil was considered “on spec used oil” and used as a supplement to virgin oil.  The uses for the new product ranged from mixing with other oils to form “blends”, in the place of natural gas in industrial facilities for fuel burners and dryers such as mills for kiln drying wood,  as lube material for equipment, as hydraulic oil, and even remade back into a 1040 wt motor oil.  The end result is that they salvage used oil product for reuse in lue of using a first time product. This takes a considerable bite out of our consumption. Pretty impressive by any standard and a job well done on their part.

     With all that being said, you can see the impact that the simple act of recycling that nasty, dirty oil can have on the earth, our environment, the future for our children, and your general peace of mind.  Compare the figures I’ve provided, do the math, and you can see the results. So, the next time you decide to change your own oil, fight the desire to bury the lot of it in the backyard next to your beloved vegetable garden unless you don’t mind your salads tasting like crude.  Its not hard to do and its a win/win all the way around.  We learned to do it like our fathers did….yes, there is plenty of dirty oil in the backyard of my childhood home….so show the kids the way we conscientious, environmentally minded people do it and want them to do it as well. Take care of Mother Earth and she will take care of you.  If not, she’s going to hit her breaking point and we all know what happens when a mommy gets really mad! It ain’t pretty.

Happy oil changes to all…….Lady Godiva on wheels

A big “thank you” goes out to Todd and Jim from Emerald Recycling.  Check out the website for their company at http://www.emeraldnw.com/ to see the great things they do.
      Also, check out recycling centers in your area at http://recyclingcenters.org/, to find out how and where to recycle everything from computers and cell phones to cars.


4 Responses to “Now I’m gunna tell you about my new love….and how to recycle your motor oil”

  1. February 26, 2010 at 3:59 am

    you really have to wait until green bikes become a bit more standardized, not enough people are buying them and the price is still relatively high; I would suggest waiting a few years until new ones come out and prices drop

    • April 23, 2010 at 2:12 am

      I agree that the pricing of electric vehicles is a bit higher than the gas powered bikes however, there are other things to consider. One is the tax credits that come with the purchase of any electric vehicle. The credits in Oregon bring the $8000 price down to just below $6000. In addition, the cost of charging the bike is around 50 cents and when you compare that to gasoline prices, the saving are huge. The third advantage is that the newbie rider can easily handle the bike weighing under 400 lbs with no clutch or shifter. Lastly, as technology improves, so does the performance of the battery life and the commuter bikes can be used for longer rides, as well.
      One gentleman determined that with a ten year life of a battery, you would save enough on gas to buy an entire bike and have $3000 left over. So, with all that said, the pricing doesnt come out too bad. Im just sayin….

      • April 23, 2010 at 2:24 am

        One more footnote; Brammo has sold over one thousand Enertias, has just begun selling in the UK, and has the Hong Kong police department using the Enertia. They are also teaming up with Jackie Chan somehow to partner in selling the Enertia. I think they have done a fabulous job marketing the bike…even Jay Leno owns one! Check it out at http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/search/search=Enertia+electric+motorcycle

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