There's no question that waste oil is a serious environmental problem in the automotive industry, which is big part of what prompted Valvoline to introduce what it is calling its NextGen recycled engine oil products. Valvoline claims that NextGen oil meets all manufacturer requirements in terms of lubrication and thermal protection, and that it manages to achieve this rating while incorporating as much as 50 percent recycled oil.
Every year, the equivalent of 400 million gallons of crude oil is drained out of cars and trucks across the United States and replaced with freshly refined lubricants. Instead of disposing of this old oil in traditional fashion, Valvoline has elected to refine it and mix it with fresh oil and sell it to drivers in the United States. The company states that not only does the recycled oil reduce dependency on new oil production, but that it also saves at the production level when compared to the energy required to refine crude into usable oil.
How does Valvoline manage to squeeze additional miles out of oil that has been used up by thousands of miles of hard driving? The company claims that the oil that comes out of most vehicles isn't so much 'worn out' as it is 'dirty.' By taking a portion of the three billion quarts of oil consumed by American vehicles on a yearly basis and subjecting it to processes that are similar to the ones used to purify crude oil, Valvoline claims that its NextGen oil products are free of impurities and are capable of meeting SAE and API standards. The resulting 50/50 mix of fresh and recycled oil also contains all the necessary additives found in modern engine oil. This makes the product safe to use in any new or used car sold in the United States.
Valvoline currently offers its NextGen oil in 5W20, 10W30 and 10W40 weights, each of which come with the same guarantees as Valvoline's other engine oils. As to whether the company will find success in retailing its recycled oil, only time will tell. It may be a hard sell given that consumers have been endlessly subjected to advertisements and advice regarding the need to replace old oil with new, fresh oil on a regular basis. NextGen oil could potentially be seen by car owners as a compromise between the needs of their engine and the needs of the environment. Additionally, NextGen oil is not available at a lower price point when compared to regular motor oil sitting next to it on the shelf, which may be another factor in keeping adoption rates of this recycled lubricant low. It will most likely take careful marketing and customer education on the part of Valvoline to show drivers the benefits and safety of choosing recycled oil over what they have always put in their vehicles.