5 Tips for Recycling Vehicle Fluids

Like most shop owners, Mike Torres, owner of Dakota Ridge Complete Automotive in Littleton, Colo, is quite aware of the significant amount of waste products that his shop produces through its daily operations. These waste products can have a negative environmental impact and shop operators must do their part to reduce, reuse and recycle.

To reduce the effects of these potentially harmful waste products, Torres has developed practices for disposing of almost every material in his shop.
Here are some ways you can help the environment and greatly benefit from the effort: 

1. Implement a diligent recycling process in your shop 

Having a consistent recycling process in your facility will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but it can also serve as a marketing tool towards your customers. It’s a great way to differentiate your shop from all the rest. Most recycling efforts are free while some even reimburse for used fluids.

2. Be responsible with vehicle fluids 

You are able to recycle many types of fluids including: engine oil, transfer case fluid, differential oil, brake fluid, washer fluid, transmission fluid, gear oil, power steering fluid and brake cleaner. In Torres’ shop, all of these fluids are mixed together in one oil collection tank. An agreement was made with a local oil pickup company who collects fluids bi-weekly in order to refine and reuse it as waste-oil heat. Torres collects roughly 600-800 gallons of fluid every month which, at 50 cents per gallon, gets his shop $300-400 in monthly reimbursement. If the company who provides you with the oil is not able to collect it, they can usually direct you to a company that does.

3. Buy the right tank

Torres purchased a collection tank independently from Rhino Tanks, as one is not provided. There are safety standards to comply with, such as it must have self-containment abilities to hold flammable oil. For example, a 400-gallon tank has to have 200 gallons of secondary containment. The tanks range from 55 gallons up to 600 gallons, thus it is easy to find the correct size for your shop.

4. Transferring the oil

In order to transfer the oil from the shop to the collection tank, Torres uses 30-gallon roll-around tanks that are located inside his shop. They can be rolled around to each car and the oil can be drained directly into the collection bucket on top. When they see that the tank is almost full (thanks to a sight gage) they roll it outside to the collectors tank. An air hose is set up to pump the oil from the 30-gallon tank to the collection tank. This is completed once a day within five minutes.

5. Separate antifreeze

Antifreeze is separated from the other vehicle fluids into its own tank. Used antifreeze can be processed through a filtering system and reused. The same company that collects the waste oil is usually able to collect the antifreeze as well. There is no charge to have the material taken off the site, however there is no reimbursement.

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