Hey Mr. Green,
Americans generate 1.3 billion gallons of used motor oil every year. Oil doesn't wear out, it just gets dirty, so why don't oil-change companies re-refine this finite resource so that it can be used over and over? --Steve in Portland, Oregon
Big, deadly spills like the Exxon Valdez in Alaska get all the headlines, but every year regular folks dump around 345 million gallons of used oil into the environment, according to the Department of Energy. That's 30 times the amount that gushed out of that notorious ship. So we ought to be thankful for Jiffy Lube and its ilk, which recycle old oil, generally to be burned as industrial fuel or used in asphalt. Re-refining the oil for use as a lubricant would be a safer way to go, since burning oil releases toxic material. Unfortunately, less than 20 percent of recycled used oil is now being re-refined, according to the Department of Energy. Industry sources say there just isn't enough profit in it, nor enough government support.