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Do you know where your oil goes?
Trine, solid waste district partner for environmental project
ANGOLA, Ind. — Do you know where your used oil goes? That was the question Trine University and the Northeast Indiana Solid Waste Management District (NISWMD) partnered to find an answer to over the last few months.
Thanks to a private donation, they found answers and are working to increase education efforts and collection points. In addition, they assembled 600 oil changing and spill kits and are giving them away free of charge to northeast Indiana residents. Each kit includes a large carrying case, oil pan, oil funnel, oil filter wrench, shop rags, absorbent pads, goggles and a small spill kit, which contains 10 pads, two socks, one disposable bag, one pair of gloves, one set of goggles and instructions.
“If oil isn’t properly recycled, it flows into area lakes, rivers and streams,” said Steve Christman, executive director of the NISWMD. “A little bit of oil can do a lot of damage, especially in an area that draws tourists to more than 100 lakes and is highly agricultural.”
The NISWMD currently has a Household Hazardous Waste Program that includes collection of used oil; however, effectiveness of this program is limited due to a lack of district funding. After learning about the opportunity to start an oil-recovery program, Christman approached Trine about being a part of the endeavor. The university and NISWMD have worked together on various environmental projects for more than a decade. More than 20 Trine students have interned with the district over the years and some have taken jobs with the district.
Interns from Trine University surveyed area residents regarding the amount of oil collected annually, customer base for the collection, types of oil collected and how oil is handled. Results showed the need for increased education and more collection points. The district recovers approximately 10 tons or 2,667 gallons, of used oil each year. Based on best available data, potentially 38,000 gallons of used oil may be available for capture throughout the district, through an existing private collection system.
“Now we are working to educate the public about oil recovery,” said Jennifer Franz, a Tri-State (now Trine) University graduate who works for the NISWMD and is heading the oil-recovery project. “We have created a more effective system to collect oil, as well. This truly is a project that benefits the entire community. “
Benefits include, not just cleaner lakes and streams, but energy savings as well. The American Petroleum Institute finds that recycling two gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to supply the average household for 24 hours.
For more information about oil recycling or for a free oil collection kit, contact Jennifer Franz, NISWMD program specialist, at (800) 777-5462 or (260) 587-3063.