Safety-Kleen Rebrands Base Oils

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Safety-Kleen Rebrands Base Oils
Vacuum gas oil tank at the Safety-Kleen East Chicago, Indiana, rerefinery. Photo courtesy of Safety-Kleen

Safety-Kleen has rebranded its rerefined base oils, putting them under the Kleen+ name that emphasizes their reduced carbon footprint.

Safety-Kleen Oil Executive Vice President Craig Linington acknowledged that rerefiners have long touted environmental benefits of base oils recycled from used lubricants, including a supply chain that generates less pollutants, but he said Safety-Kleen decided to make that message more explicit in light of the sustainability movement.

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 “We really feel like that’s significant obviously, but a message we need to put out explicitly as opposed to the more implicit message of the past,” Linington told Lube Report.

Linington said many lubricant companies are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints and that base oils produced through processes that generate less carbon dioxide can make a significant difference, since they are by far the biggest ingredient in finished lubes.

 “So, this is very much an exercise by assigning a brand name to our base oil, to position it as one of the sets of solutions as it related to sustainability in the market,” Linington said.

Safety-Kleen recently commissioned a life cycle assessment by Ramboll, an independent engineering consulting firm, which concluded that the supply chain for Safety-Kleen’s base oil generates 78% less greenhouse gas emissions than that of virgin mineral base oils. That represents an avoidance of 10 kilograms of carbon dioxide per gallon, the study said.

The branding change is aimed at better communicating the sustainability and reduced GHG emissions aspects of rerefined base oil now that more data is available to explain those aspects. “It’s positioning Kleen+ and our base oil as a solution within a set of solutions for the industry that we’ve never really been able to do before,” Linington said. “It’s created already a set of conversations with potential customers and stakeholders across the industry that we haven’t spoken to before. I think that’s the opportunity.”

Several years had passed since the last time Safety-Kleen conducted a lifecycle analysis. Since then, he said, the company has made improvements in the efficiency of its collection business and in efficiencies of operations at its rerefineries – both are part of the new calculation.

He explained that the product carbon footprint analysis conducted by Ramboll focused on greenhouse gas emissions – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – associated with base oil produced, comparing Safety-Kleen re-refined base oil to non-re-refined base oil. The product carbon footprint system boundary was cradle-to-grave – i.e., raw materials extraction, transportation, base oil production, and end-of-life management – and followed international best practices and global ISO standards to provide consistency, transparency and comparability.

Owned by Norwell, Massachusetts,-based environmental services provider Clean Harbors, 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, and the company said this avoids an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of having 3.7 billion miles driven by gasoline-powered automobiles.

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