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How old oil can save your dealership £5,000 a year

By Chris Phillips

Evironmental laws have fuelled intense competition in the waste collection business, with vehicle workshops reportedly being offered rebates of up to 15p a litre for used oil.

Workshops are responsible for the waste they produce until it’s collected by licensed carriers. Failure to comply with the regulations carries the threat of £300 on-the-spot fines, or heavier penalties.

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Castrol points out that waste termed ‘hazardous’ under the Environmental Protection Act includes oils, filters, contaminated fuel, lead acid batteries, solvents, thinners, oily rags, aerosols and even fluorescent light tubes. Regulations also forbid the mixing of lubricating oil with anti-freeze, brake fluid, chlorinated solvents, petrol or other workshop-generated liquid waste.

According to the Oil Recycling Association (ORA), Britain consumes about 700,000 tonnes of lubricating oil every year, with the automotive sector accounting for “a significant proportion” of this. The ORA underscores the risk of unregulated disposal, pointing out that just a single pint can contaminate enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool.

But financial inducements, coupled with regulations, should impose a compelling level of compliance among vehicle workshops, with the ORA estimating that waste oil can generate a revenue stream in the region of £100,000 a year for major franchise groups. Mark Cawley, automotive sector director at Safetykleen, said a garage producing an average of 4,000 litres could expect rebates of more than £300.

Hence the competition among licensed collection operators to offer a variety of enticements. These can take the form of rebates scaled to the volume of oil collected, or no-cost collection for other waste if oil is included in the package, or free equipment such as parts washers and brake cleaners.

Not surprisingly, it also attracts the ‘cowboys’. A service manager at a Midlands dealership – who asked not to be named – said:  “One scam involves garages being asked for a few litres of waste oil to complete some asphalt road repairs, for instance, and later finding the whole tank’s been drained.”



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