In their efforts to limit environmental impact and to mitigate some cost, Walmart and Castrol recently went into a mutual packaging agreement. It was announced as a delivery contract where Castrol will no longer ship oil in plastic drums or individual quart-size bottles to Walmart lube shops. The public relations people around this press release claim that there is less residual oil as compared to plastic bottles, among other advantages.
The new oil packs are called enviro-pack or e-pack. Castrol has a PDF tutorial on how to open them safely and stack them on shelves or commercial floors – not more than eight high. They are lighter than traditional oil drums and take a lot less space. What is more, once emptied, the plastic insert of packages can be recycled while the corrugated fiberboard casing can be easily broken down and placed in a cardboard recycle bins. Some issues around usability will be additionally worked out. Certain options looked a bit chores-prone such as the fact that initially the cardboard container has to be placed up, then some oil poured out onto a pitcher to relieve pressure and eventually the spout gets placed in for controlled pours.
As it turns out these economy packs have been out for quite some time. Pennzoil has had them for a while. Some environment and usability advantages are evident – less amount of bottles in the garbage as these smaller packs can be maneuvered manually, less clutter around the shop, lighter packs as opposed to drums which need a hand cart and two people etc. In addition, the plastic bottles from oil are excluded from the recycling stream since they can contaminate it heavily. This fact is sad as both water and motor oil bottles come from resin code 1 which is PET or PETE – polyethylene terephthalate. The drawbacks here are that sometimes these oil boxes are tough to pour out of, they will require a bit more labor involvement and may cost some to shop owners in terms of ability to service cars fast and efficiently. Another good and bad consideration is that the large plastic drums are nearly indestructible. They protect their content well and then we have to figure out what to do with them after their end of life. Plastics small cardboard boxes full of engine lubricants might not be so lucky and cause a spill or two here and there due to naturally lower puncture resistance. Either way, the environmental improvement is well worth the effort.
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