According to a report, every month approximately 35,000 barrels amount to more than 80 million litres of waste or used oil is generated in Karnataka by power plants, service centres, and other industries. Waste oil can be reused provided it is reprocessed, and there are legal enactments like Hazardous And Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2015 that gives specific directions regarding the same. 


However, the waste oil is ending up industries in unorganised sectors as cheap fuel for machinery and other work. This has two implications, one the waste oil management skips the recycling centres, and two; such usage is illegal. Furthermore, this leads to increase in pollution and redundancy of the recycling centres most of which are almost on the verge of closing down.


Though the waste or used oil can be directly used for various industrial purposes, since such oil has contaminants, like dirt, lead, sulphur, and other heavy metals, recycling is necessary for safe usage of such oil. In Karnataka, the use of unprocessed waste oil is increasing pollution and becoming a serious issue that will have long-term implications. For example, the froth in various lakes around the city is a result of toxic waste and use of waste oil in unorganised industries. Also, burning of such oil is leading to bad air quality which is a rising concern in the whole state of Karnataka.


The growing illegal use of waste oil is threatening the recycling centres across the state that claims to receive only 10% of the actual amount of waste oil. This is forcing various centres to go out of business despite the fact that there is a huge amount of waste oil available in this state.


Interestingly, Karnataka’s waste oil has good potential to contribute to the economy if recycled. First of all, the large number of recycling centres will be revived contributing to the growth of this industry. Secondly and most importantly, the recycling of waste oil produces lubricant, hydraulic oil use in vehicles, industrial burner oil, Bitumen based products and many other useful products.  These products are usually imported from outside the state whereas Karnataka itself has the capability and raw material to create an industry of such products itself. 


What needs to be done to stop the illegal use of waste oil is have stricter laws and better monitoring of the waste oil generation and its distribution.