The independent Union of the European Lubricants Industry (UEIL), whose activities and online events I closely follow, continues to guide its members toward sustainability. Aiming to contribute to the European Green Deal’s goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050, the Union first established the Sustainability Committee within itself, and then in 2019 set up the Sustainability Task Force (STF). Leading the industry in terms of sustainability management, STF came to define ‘sustainability’ in the context of lubricants as: “Lubricants created by innovative businesses enabling the use of safe, resource saving technologies and processes which reduce the burden on the planet, local environments and benefit people and society.” The Task Force identified three priority sustainability pillars: Environment, Health and Safety, Society and Economy. To deliver against these objectives, Environment Working Group with the responsibility of Carbon Footprint (CFP) and Energy Efficiency and Communications Working Group were formed. Organizations are encouraged to develop sustainability strategies, report on sustainability, and make these reports available to the public. The goals in the life cycle from source to end use are set, which require production with the least possible negative impact on biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate change, and consumption with the best waste management.
In the life cycle of sustainable lubricants, used oil management is critical. Used oil which is no longer useful can be still used as a fuel in the production of cement, lime, and steel. Used oil can also be re-refined for use in the production of fuel and base oil. In addition, it is a valuable raw material as a hydrocarbon source similar to coal, crude oil, and natural gas. Base oil made from used oil (re-refined) has a privileged place in our sector due to its position in the circular economy. Lubricants formulated with a re-refined base oil and released to the market have a positive impact on the life cycle in the areas where they are used, creating significant benefits, primarily in the terms of Carbon Footprint.
The European Re-refining Industry Group (GEIR - French: Groupement Européen de l’Industrie de la Régénération) of UEIL is the umbrella organization for institutions that add value to used oil. GEIR convened its annual general meeting in Bilecik, the City of Establishment and Liberation, on September 8, 2022, as it does each year in a different country. The meeting was held at TAYRAŞ Base Oil Refinery, a group member, and was attended by 19 representatives from Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Finland, France, Spain, Sweden, Italy, and Portugal, 6 of which attended online. The upcycling technology of TAYRAŞ was strongly appreciated by the participants. Marco Codognola, President of GEIR said, “The fact that TAYRAŞ, a valuable investment with strong technology, is conducted in Türkiye proves that we are on the right path; we will grow and make our world cleaner and more livable place.” Chairman and CEO of TAYRAŞ Mehmet Afşin said that “The managers of the European refineries with strong technologies gathered in TAYRAŞ. Our guests emphasized that our refinery is upcycling with the best available technology. Our investment is a source of pride for us.”
Our strong legislation became another technical advantage. According to the Used Oil Regulation, which was amended on December 23, 2020, lubricant producers are required to collect 10% of the lubricants they release to the market in 2021, 15% in 2022, 20% in 2023, and 25% in 2024, and in subsequent years, at rates consistent with the Ministry’s goals. While in lubricant production, it is mandatory to use base oil produced from used oil at a rate of 8% in 2022, 12% in 2023, 15% in 2024, and later years, at rates consistent with the Ministry’s goals, excluding imported base oil. This compulsory usage rate is the acceleration of our sector.
According to the data obtained from TAYRAŞ General Manager Aydın Özbey, the recent table in Türkiye is as follows:
⦁ Lubricant consumption (PETDER, 2020): 470,000 tons
⦁ 2020 base oil consumption (at least 25%): 352,000 tons
⦁ 2020 additive consumption (at most 25%): 117,000 tons
⦁ Amount of use of re-refined base oil calculated in accordance with the regulation for 352,000 tons of base oil
2022: 28,200 ton
2023: 42,300 ton
2024: 52,875 ton
⦁ Number of refining facilities: 7
⦁ Operation capacity of refining facilities: 117.000 tons
⦁ Calculated base oil production capacity of refining facilities: 76.200 tons
⦁ The current established capacity is greater than what is required for mandatory blending
⦁ The collectable used oil amount: 235.000 - 305.000 tons
⦁ The collectable used oil amount is greater than the calculated base oil production capacity
⦁ Revising the mandatory blending rates determined for 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025 respectively as 4%, 6%, 8%, and 10% will be of national benefits.
In the light of the above information, we all need to work harder as the stakeholders of the used oil sector. Unfortunately, we are not yet successful enough in waste collection and sorting. Despite rising waste collection rates, the amount of waste entering recycling facilities and being processed remains low compared to our waste potential. The used oil collection issue is also very critical. Illegal and harmful usages that endanger human health and the environment (mixing with diesel oil, burning in greenhouses and workplace stoves) have an impact on economic profits and employment. This problem reduces the capacity usage rates of used oil re-refining facilities. It is a major loss. Used oil means domestic petroleum. The more used oil we collect and process, the more successful we will be in both internal consumption and re-refined base oil export. Our environment, climate, and economy will all profit. While our legislative power is strengthened by audits, the lubricant and used oil producers, authorized institutions and refining facilities, determined by our Used Oil Regulation should completely fulfill the obligations. In order for the established capacity to create complete value in our economy, increasing mandatory blending rates is a sectoral reality for our political power’s appropriate opinion. Consequently, the ground will be set for new investments. Our beautiful country deserves everything.