[GRRN] Fw: Landfill Bans for Used Oil Filters

Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Fri, 11 Dec 1998 01:08:29 -0500

[Forwarded message in response to John Reindl's request for information on
state oil filter recycling programs. The author is Jim Nickerson, an oil
filter processor from Texas and president of Nickco Recycling, Inc.
(nickco@internetwork.net) --bill sheehan]

Hi Bill

A little general info about recycling filters.

The Filter Manufacturers Council (FMC) is an industry group made up by the
different manufacturers of filters. They have a hotline where people can
call to find where they can have their filters recycled. They put out a
lot of articles to mags and papers about filter recycling. Their primary
purpose as I see it is to put on a good front that the manafactures are
doing their part in and for recycling the products they make. BUT They
are continually the biggest thorn in our side.

Their opinion is that if
the public is well enough educated then the filters will be recycled.
They are aginst landfill bans of filters. This is pure (as we say in NE
Texas) bullshit. Reason being is that the filters are a negative value
item. What I mean is that the filter as it comes off a car or even after
it is drained and crushed has a negative value. This is not set by
people like me but by the steel mills. The steel mills will NOT pay for
whole used oil filters, crushed or uncrushed. A uncrushed filter can
contain as much as 35% oil and 12% paper. A crushed filter will at a
MINIMUM contain 12-13% oil and 13% paper. Steel mills are not in the
business of buying waste, they want clean steel.

What we as oil filter processors do is seperate the used oil filter into its
components (steel,oil,and filter media). At this point the components can
be sold and recycled because of their purity. There are a few steel
mills/foundries that take the used oil filters that have been crushed
and mix them into their steel batches for melting.

There are problems associated with this process.
(1) If to many filters are put in at once then the emisions from the
stacks are to high becuse of the burning oil.
(2) Because of these filters the gases sometimes flow up into their
baghouses and ignite the filters in the baghouses.
(3) The mixing of the filters into the steel mix allow oil to escape
into the envionment.
(4) When filters are handled this way the oil and paper media is
incinerated, not recycled. Some steel mill people say that they are
recovering the energy that helps melt the steel. This is laughable and a
sign of how big business will practically say anything to try to sell
something to the goverment.
(5) To the best of my knowledge there is no steel mill in the US that
pays for the filters that have been drained and crushed.

This gets back back to the filters having a negative value. There are
several steps in a filter being recycled .
Generators- The people that create the used oil filter. Lube stores,
garages, truck stops, etc.
Transporters/collectors- People who pick up the filters from the
generator and transport them to a storage/processing location.
Processors- People (like myself) who thru several different types of
processes seperate the filter into its components or in the case of the
few, crush the filter to be taken to the steel mill.

Lets go thru each step and I will hope to explain why I say that filters
are a negative value item. If the steel mill will not pay for the filter
and the processor incurs expenses processing the filter then the
processor must charge the transporter to accept his filters. Then the
transporter must charge the generator to pick up his filters. If the
generator has to pay to have his filters picked up then the filters have
a negative value.

This is why for high percentages of filters to be recycled THERE HAS TO
BE A LANDFILL BAN for used oil filters. With a landfill ban each
generator will have approx the same cost to have his filters recycled.
This means that one generator does not have a cost that his competition
doesn't have. Without the landfill ban a generator may want to have his
filters recycled but if his competition is not then he will have an
extra cost that his competitior doesn't and in most cases will not
choose to have the filter recycled. In Texas and the other landfill ban
states that I know off, here is how it is done. There are no state
dollars given to the generator, transporter, processor, or steel mill. It
is totally driven thru the free market. There are rules that say how
long filters can be stored before going to the next step. This is
necessary agin because of the filters having a negative value. These
rules will vary among each state.

Another thing that speaks well of the landfill ban on filters is that in
states where there is a landfill ban the prices to the generators for
pick up and recycling of their filters is MUCH cheaper than in states
without the landfill ban. The reason for this is is that where the
filters are banned from the landfills business will fill the void,
competition will take over and drive the prices down.

There is no down side to recycling filters:

-- Creates jobs (over 500 in Texas)

-- Keeps oil laden material from the landfills and thus the water supply
(3 million gallons of oil kept out of Texas landfills each year from
recycling used oil filters)

-- Recycles materials which otherwise would be lost (aprox 13,000 tons of
steel are recycled from used oil filters each year in Texas)

In short I believe that items such as used oil filters need to be banned
from landfills, regulated until they have a positive value and no
environmental risk and then let the free market take it from there.

As far as the states mentioned in the message:

The program in Florida is a ban on commercial filters only.

The program in California is not actually a ban but a used oil
filter has to have a haz determination if not recycled, thus most are
recycled. I think this is correct.

Rhode Island has a ban but all the companies servicing them are from out
of state. They are probably being landfilled in those states where these
collectors are from.

Pennsylvannia did some kind of minor program trying to get people to
recycle their filters. Did this in concert with the FMC. Was window

And the others mentioned in the message ....

I hope this helps. If I can help in any other way please let me know.

I am going to send you a draft of a filter bill we are going to try to
get passed in the upcoming Texas legislature this year in an e-mail as
soon as it is cleanedup a bit. Its in the final stages of being written.