Lubricants Recycling – A Case Study: How Italy Managed to Become an Excellence and an Example for the Other EU’s Member States

  • Fabio Dalla GiovannaEmail author
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 18)


It is relatively common for people to recycle paper, glass and metals (aluminium and steel). The infrastructure and services for this recycling activity are available and relatively well understood. However, the recycling of petroleum products is less well known and sometimes confusing. Just 1 L of used oil can contaminate 1 million litres of water. In Italy, used oil re-refining practice is common since the fifties, and it is today a reality thanks to an excellent organization system and thanks to the priority given to the used oil recycling vs. burning. This practice has now been strengthened by the European Union with the recent Waste Framework Directive, which imposes a priority order hierarchy for waste management, where recycling is at an upper level than burning with energy recovery.

This chapter describes how Italy, within the past EU15, was the only Member State which did not receive an infringement procedure by the Court of Justice of Luxembourg for not having respected the priority of regeneration according to Directive 75/439/EEC.

Legislative framework, collection system, incentives, good communication policies and technology are the key points that made Italy the most advanced European Country in the used oil re-refining sector. Today, advanced technologies have been developed to obtain recycled lubricants with quality and performances equivalent to the virgin products and, for those producing Gr.II/II+ base oils even better.

This case study can be taken as an example of the excellent practice for the other EU27 Member States for conserving a non-renewable fossil resource, for protecting the environment and saving money by reducing the dependence from the crude oil producing countries.


Recycling Re-refining Used oil 


  1. 1.
    Sustainability Report 2009 – Statutory consortium of used oilGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Information from Viscolube.
  3. 3.
    Axens – Hydrofinishing Unit – Operating instruction manual 2009Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    IFEU − Ecological and energetical assessment of used oil re-refining − 2005Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Viscolube SpaPieve Fissiraga (LO)Italy

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