Independent study says oil regeneration is a good environmental choice

A new study provides evidence that the regeneration of waste oils into new oils is a better environmental option than incineration. It also shows that incentives are needed to promote regeneration.

A study carried out by Taylor Nelson Sofres, on behalf of DG Environment, confirmes that the regeneration of waste oils is, from an environmental life-cycle perspective, better than co-incineration. The study also points out that there are good reasons why the priorities for regeneration set in the directive should be adhered to:

  • the technology exists;
  • the quality produced through regeneration is comparable to virgin base oils.

There are also obvious reasons why Member States still prefer incineration to regeneration:

  • it takes many years for a regeneration plant to become self-sufficient in economic terms;
  • the supply of waste oils is not sufficient, since regeneration plants have to compete with industries buying waste oils for energy use;
  • the customers (often the automotive sector) are still hesitant to use re-refined base oils.

The study predicts that the EU will need to support, in its next revision of the directive, the regeneration of waste oils with incentives (both non-financial and financial) to make the process more competitive.


The directive on Waste Oils (75/439/EC) from 1975, amended in 1987, gives priority to the regeneration of waste oils. However, previous studies have shown that the Member States do not favour regeneration of waste oils to a great extent. Instead, the waste oils are mainly used as fuel in industrial installations. The Commission has launched several infringement procedures against Member States for breaches of the directive.


The study was commissioned by DG Environment as a first step in the revision of the directive on waste oils. The revision has not yet been included in the Commission's work programme.



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