When it comes to engine oil, there are strict environmental regulations that manufacturers must adhere to within the UK aftermarket.
According to Andrew Goddard, Chairman of The Verification of Lubricant Specification (VLS), the independent trade body which investigates complaints about engine oils and other lubricants: “Oil manufacturers must meet general business regulations on waste, air pollution, and water and land contamination. In addition, under the REACH regulations for chemical substances, oil companies must identify and manage the risks presented by substances they manufacture and market, including demonstrating how oils can be used and stored safely.”
Lubricants are classified under the Classification of Labelling and Packaging (CLP) regulation as hazardous and should be labelled with associated pictograms on the packaging due to their potential carcinogenic properties. Care must be taken when handling lubricants to avoid coming into contact with exposed skin and subsequently causing irritation. The use of personal protective equipment such as gloves is strongly recommended.
The hazards presented by lubricants are outlined in Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), which should accompany any deliveries of products. These SDSs set out the name and address of the supplier, the hazard classification, composition and information on ingredients, first aid measures, firefighting measures, accidental release measures, handling and storage guidance, exposure control, and toxicological, ecological, transport, disposal, and regulatory information.
Looking after waste
Under the Waste Management framework, or WM3, care needs to be taken when managing waste oil. Andrew added, “Long gone are the days when garages and workshops used to burn waste oil in a small waste oil burner due to the presence of toxic chemicals such as acid deposits, soot and combustion properties which are carcinogenic. Waste oil must be disposed of carefully, and environmental services are available for collection and effective disposal of waste oil.”
Protecting the environment
Over the years, Andrew insists that VLS members and other lubricants manufacturers have worked hard on not just meeting environmental regulations, but preserving and protecting the environment in several ways. These include sourcing sustainable components and materials, ensuring the efficient and sustainable use of raw materials and energy in the manufacturing process whilst minimising emissions, extending the life of lubricant products and packaging wherever possible, and managing and reducing waste to conserve resources and reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.
“These initiatives not only benefit the environment for the benefit of future generations, but they can also directly benefit manufacturers through energy cost savings,” Andrew concluded.
Motor factors and the rest of the aftermarket supply chain can assure themselves that the products they are stocking are produced to the appropriate environmental standards by asking manufacturers to share the Safety Data Sheets of their products. Many lubricant companies have also demonstrated their commitment to the environment by holding the International Standards Organisation 14001 standard for environmental management.
This standard not only covers the energy used in the production of lubricants, but also looks at how products, packaging and waste are managed effectively.