In conjunction with World Environment Day, Safety-Kleen, North America’s largest recycler of used oil, unveiled KLEEN+™, a new family of base oil grades aimed at redefining the market and lowering the environmental impact of automotive and industrial lubricants by reducing their carbon footprint.
Fossil fuels and their oil derivatives are a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, yet more than 90% of North America’s lubricants are derived from virgin crude oil. Instead of requiring more crude from the ground, Safety-Kleen collects more than 230 million gallons of used oil annually from more than 100,000 customers. Safety-Kleen then converts these used lubricants into a higher quality re-refined product to be sold back into the market. The model is an environmentally beneficial, closed loop process that can continue infinitely.
“With the rollout of KLEEN+, we are communicating to the industry that re-refined base oil enables the best of all worlds – a high-quality base stock that delivers enhanced performance in end products with the additional benefit of being uniquely sustainable,” said Executive Vice President of Safety-Kleen Oil Craig Linington. “The re-refining industry, led by Safety-Kleen, has made impressive technological advancements and product enhancements since the 1980s. Our new brand represents the culmination of nearly four decades of scientific research and investment in our facilities. With KLEEN+, we have arrived to where we are now delivering a premium product that is technologically superior to, and of greater quality than, equivalent base oils derived from crude, and with a vastly smaller carbon footprint.”
Base oil is one of the most processed elements of a barrel of crude and, for that reason, carries a large carbon footprint. A life cycle assessment of the carbon footprint of KLEEN+ recently conducted for Safety-Kleen by Ramboll, an independent engineering consulting firm, concluded that Safety-Kleen’s base oil achieved as much as a 78% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to base oil made via a traditional refining process on a per gallon basis.
The third-party study also revealed that every gallon of used oil recycled into re-refined base oil versus a traditional refining process results in the avoidance of 10 kg of carbon dioxide being released. One hundred gallons of KLEEN+ avoids one metric ton of greenhouse gases as compared to traditional refining. Owned by Clean Harbors (NYSE:CLH), North America’s leading environmental services provider, Safety-Kleen operates seven re-refineries located across North America – including the world’s largest in East Chicago, Indiana. Safety-Kleen’s facilities produce approximately 150 million gallons of base oil annually. These plants have re-refined more than 4.1 billion gallons of used oil since their opening enabling that used oil to have a second life as a high-quality lubricant. On an annual basis, Safety-Kleen’s re-refineries avoid an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases – the equivalent of having 3.7 billion miles driven by gas-powered automobiles.
The re-refining process takes feedstock containing molecules that have already been refined, and enhances them again, creating the superior quality and performance of KLEEN+. By distilling the used oil to take out the impurities and then hydrotreating the remainder, Safety-Kleen’s facilities generate the formation of very narrow and tight hydrocarbon bands within its base oils. The result is that the KLEEN+ brand carries molecular bonds stronger than traditional base oils and with better overall lubricating performance. These base oils are formulated with a chemical structure that’s more resistant to heat or breakdown. Safety-Kleen only requires approximately 1.4 gallons of used oil to produce one gallon of KLEEN+ while refiners typically process 42 gallons of drilled crude oil to produce one gallon of base oil.
“Simply put, KLEEN+ is just better. It’s not only better for the environment, but better for any engine or equipment that requires lubrication,” said Senior Vice President of Safety-Kleen Oil, Dr. Joel Garrett, who holds a doctorate in sustainable chemistry. “KLEEN+ represents the ideal mixture of quality and sustainability. Safety-Kleen has invested hundreds of millions of dollars over many decades in developing the most advanced re-refining engineering technology and facilities – all to ensure the highest quality base oils that also combat climate change by attaining a low carbon profile. Despite the fact we are the largest collector and recycler of waste oil, we recognize both the scarcity and value of our products.”
KLEEN+ boasts a higher viscosity index than traditional base oil along with numerous quality advantages. These include excellent cold temperature properties, lower volatility, little to no impurities or aromatics, excellent color stability, higher oxidation, and more thermal stability.
KLEEN+ can be sold directly to lubricant manufacturers for a variety of applications including engine oils, metalworking products and specialty coating applications, or it can be blended and sold as finished products, including passenger car, heavy duty, hydraulic fluids and other industrial lubricants. Safety-Kleen has been using its re-refined base oil to produce its own line of branded motor oils and lubricants for more than a decade.
Safety-Kleen’s Performance Plus brand of motor oils has been used by NASCAR, NHRA and Monster Jam race teams, the U.S. military, state police departments and car rental agencies. It’s been repeatedly endorsed by racing’s all-time-great Richard Petty who recommends it for its quality through Petty’s Garage.
“The demand for our re-refined base oils has steadily grown over the past decade – as has the quality, due in part to the increased proliferation of synthetics in our feedstock,” said Linington. “We expect that trend to continue going forward, which ensures that all grades of our KLEEN+ base oil will realize continuous improvement in quality year after year. At the same time, the positive environmental impact of our base oil should not be understated. Beyond lubricating success in fleets, motorsports, mission critical operations and passenger cars, our KLEEN+ family of base oils is tangibly protecting the environment through a significant reduction in carbon dioxide production.”
He added, “It’s the most credible ‘green’ solution available in the market today.”
Operating from more than 200 branch locations, Safety-Kleen is ready to deliver KLEEN+ to customers across North America, particularly those that want to improve quality and support their sustainability initiatives.
Director of Communications
Clean Harbors, Inc.
SVP, Corporate Communications
Clean Harbors, Inc.
Senior Vice President of Safety-Kleen Oil
Clean Harbors, Inc.