Russia Moves Slowly on Oil Recycling


MOSCOW – Russia earlier this year implemented a federal law mandating treatment and recycling of various wastes, including used lubricants.

Russian president Vladimir Putin signed the regulation into law on Dec. 29, 2014, and it went into effect Jan. 1. In the lubes industry, the law encourages producers to manage the life cycle of finished products. However, industry insiders said the law lacks elements that would make it effective, such as the volume of the used goods intended for recycling or rates for environmental taxes on producers and importers.

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The law went a step further in regulating waste treatment in Russia, a country where much garbage is dumped in places other than landfills, and the used oil is primarily disposed in landfills, waterways or sewer drains. It came after a similar regulation adopted by the Customs Union – a supranational authority shared by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus – took effect in March 2014.

The law is basically an essential guideline for collection and processing of used oils, Rodion Cherednichenko, of the Moscow-based Association of Waste Recycling, told GBCs CIS Base Oils, Lubricants and Fuels conference in Moscow in May.At the moment, what is most important for the Russian rerefiners is to search for and choose appropriate technologies, he said. Cherednichenko is also owner of the Russian rerefiner Rosa-1.

Russia generates about 1.1 million tons of used finished lubricants annually, only 5 percent is processed into rerefined base stocks, while up to 10 percent is used as fuel, according to Svetlana Erkenova of the State Duma (the Russian parliament) Energy Committee. The rest of these 1.1 million tons of used oils, or 85 percent, is simply discarded in the environment, she told the conference.

According to Cherednichenkos association, 25 percent of Russias used lubes get filtered and then reapplied as insulation or electric transformer oils or as coolants. They are also used as things such as roofing and road materials. Forty percent is used as fuel in heating or power units, and 31 percent is discharged in water ways or landfills. The rest, or just 4 percent of Russias used oils, is processed into rerefined base oil.

Rosa-1 has different data, having found that 576,000 tons of used finished lubricants are collected in Russia annually. Forty percent of this volume is automotive lubes, and an equal amount were industrial lubes. Other used lubricants come from hydraulic (8 percent), electrical (6 percent) and transmission (2 percent) applications. Other uses account for the remaining four percent.

The Duma Energy Committee categorized 11,445 enterprises as environmentally hazardous facilities. It found that 4,772 of these enterprises leave negative footprint in the air, while 6,073 enterprises pollute the waterways. Sixty four enterprises leave about 50 percent of the total negative footprint in the air, while 110 enterprises leave about 50 percent of the total negative footprint in the waterways, Erkenova said.

These enterprises work in an array of industries such as chemical, petrochemical and steel, pulp and paper, as well as in housing and utility services.

Russia is a country with obsolete regulations for waste treatment that date back since the Soviet Union, and this new law promotes the notion of waste utilization. It also sets targets for volumes of waste products to be recycled and introduces the concept of environmental taxes that could be assessed, for example, on units of finished lubricants sold.

What we should do now is to implement these concepts into rules that would encourage development of country-wide collection and recycling of used lubricants, Cherednichenko said.

Rosa-1 owns a plant in Ryazan that can process 40,000 tons of waste oil per year to produce [API] Group I base oils and commercial lubes. It is the only Russian independent rerefiner that has an established network of used oil collection points in several Russian cities, including Moscow, Ryazan, Samara, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Vologda Novokuznetsk and St. Petersburg

The association urged the government to introduce targets for volumes of used goods that should be recycled. For example, in 2015 we should aim to utilize 10 percent of all produced and imported used goods, including lubricants. This figure should increase to 15 percent next year and 25 percent in 2017.

The association also proposed setting a current minimum of waste oil products to be delivered for recycling in Russia. For example, at least 40 percent of used industrial oils and 48 percent of transmission fluids should be delivered for recycling, the group said, and about 40 percent of gasoline engine oils and 35 percent of diesel engine oils.

The appropriate rate for an environmental tax for manufacturers and importers of commercial oils in Russia is still debated, and the association cited figures for lubricating oils proposed by the Moscow Higher School of Economics. The school suggested a rate of 249 rubles (about U.S $4.50) per ton for 2015, advancing to 766 rubles/ton in 2024.

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