When it comes to our vehicles, many of us know the basics. Our cars need fluids like oil and antifreeze to keep things running smoothly, but few of us consider the harmful effects of these products. As seen in highly televised ocean spills, oil can have a significant and lasting effect on the environment. We know this to be true in any location, including the prairies, but with the absence of a coast line and images of oil-covered wildlife, the proper disposal of oil may not be top of mind and there any many reasons it should be.
One litre of used oil can contaminate one million litres of water. When you take that into perspective, the small amounts that spill here or there add up, resulting in serious environmental effects. Used oil contains toxic heavy metals including high concentrations of lead (less so now with unleaded gas), zinc, calcium, barium, and magnesium along with lower concentrations of iron, sodium, copper, aluminium, chromium, manganese, potassium, nickel, tin, silicon, boron, and molybdenum. It’s because of this, and the quantities generated, that used oil is considered the single most potentially hazardous material in Canada.
The Saskatchewan Association for Resource Recovery Corporation (SARRC) is a non-profit organization that implements and maintains a province-wide used oil, filter, antifreeze and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) recycling program. In the past 18 years, SARRC has established almost 200 used oil collection facilities throughout the province, including 35 EcoCentres where used oil, filters, antifreeze and plastic containers can be safely collected. In 2013 alone, 18.74 million litres of used oil were recycled in Saskatchewan. This is roughly 73% of the oil that was available for recycling.
In addition to recycling used oil, SARRC is collecting and recycling used antifreeze as of April 1, 2014. Ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze, has long been known to be poisonous. Not handling this toxic material can cause serious problems with water quality and harm people, pets and wildlife. Recycled antifreeze can be processed and reused, eliminating waste and reducing the need for the production of new antifreeze.
To learn more about SARRC’s recycling programs and to find out where you can safely dispose of used oil, filters, antifreeze, DEF and their containers, visit SARRC’s website, www.usedoilrecyclingsk.com.