The recycling of used oils is promoted by five municipalities, a prefecture and eight private companies. This public and private management, through agreements, prevents these residues from contaminating rivers and water sources. According to data from the Quito company Arc y Pieper, which is dedicated to this task, 54 million liters of used oil are disposed of every year in Ecuador.
70% (9.45 million gallons) corresponds to domestic use and the rest (4.05 million) to the automotive and industrial sector. The cabildos of Cuenca, Ambato, Quito, Ibarra and Orellana, the Provincial Government of Tungurahua and the companies are environmental managers, who recycle these substances.
Only the capital of Azuay has an environmental license for the treatment. There is no study that determines the total volume of used oil that is collected in the country. The Municipal Company Etapa de Cuenca identified in 1998 that some companies poured these liquids into the sewers and contaminated more the wastewater that reached the oxidation (treatment) lagoons of the Ucubamba sector, north of the city.
Others sold the oils to brick kilns for incineration processes, used to water it in dusty streets or sent to Peru to be bottled and then sold in Ecuador, said Javier Crespo, director of Environmental Quality of this company municipal.
At present, Etapa collects 35,000 gallons per month from 1,300 washing machines, mechanics, vulcanizers and industries, and represents 55% of the oils used in Cuenca. This project was a pioneer in Ecuador. “That the private companies get involved – delivering the product – shows that there is environmental awareness,” Crespo said.
Two Stage tankers with capacity for 1 300 gallons each make the daily collection. After receiving a treatment, the final product is marketed to the National Cement Union (UCEM) in Chimborazo. This industry uses it as an alternative fuel and for incineration, explained Juan Carlos Castro, supervisor of Industrial Waste of the company Etapa.
According to Crespo, a gallon of oil can contaminate one million gallons of water. That amount of vital fluid serves for the consumption of 50 people during a day. The municipalities of Ambato and Imbabura also develop similar projects. In the capital of Tungurahua began in 2012 with 10 000 gallons per month and, at present, the work was unified with the Prefecture, so they rose to 30 000.
According to Carlos Carrillo, Environmental Management of the Municipality, with work Together, they managed to get 300 of the 390 lubricadoras in the province to deliver the oil to Biofactor, a private environmental manager qualified by the Ministry of the Environment. Ibarra collects 10,000 gallons of used motor vehicle oil per month. That city -by ordinance- implemented since 2013 the proper handling of liquids with mineral or synthetic base.
The service stations of that city temporarily store the oil in tanks, until it is removed by the private company Oxivida. This firm collects 20,000 gallons a month in 12 cantons of Imbabura and Carchi. One of the companies that occupies this substance is the Andean Union of Cements, which it uses as an alternative fuel to produce clinker.
The previous year that cement industry used 3.5 million liters of oil of mineral origin coming from all over the country. Last June 4, Oxivida expanded the work with the collection of burned cooking oil in Otavalo and Ibarra. For this, he installed four plastic containers of 1,000 liters each in those cities.
That product is also sent for the use of Unacem. Servitec and Arc and Pieper that buy and export vegetable oil to Colombia and the Netherlands, respectively, work in this same line. The company Arc y Pieper has 1,600 suppliers in 15 cities. Each month he buys 100 000 gallons of oil in homes, restaurants, hotels, and tuna.
Then it is filtered, stored and exported to Holland, where it is transformed into biodiesel. According to Projects Manager, Ana Vega, with this business they mitigate pollution. In all cases, recyclers give their clients a certificate of good environmental practices that makes their contribution to the environment. (I)