Maybe you’ve seen the Safety-Kleen areas at tracks that host NASCAR, NHRA or ARCA events. Maybe you’ve seen Safety-Kleen’s presence at race shops or automobile dealerships. And you know what Safety-Kleen does, right?

First, some background. Safety-Kleen has 5,000 employees, is headquartered in Plano, Texas, has 165 branch offices across the continental United States and does business with 400 of the Fortune 500 companies.

You probably knew that Safety-Kleen recycles oil. But did you know it recycles 300 million gallons of oil annually? And out of that 300 million produces 180 million gallons of “new” oil that is sold to retail customers under brand names EcoPower, America’s Choice and Performance Plus? Some of it is sold to government entities, to municipalities, to the United States Postal Services and to Enterprise and National car rental companies. Some of the used oil is used as refinery fuel.

In addition to oil recycling, Safety-Kleen, whose business is half automotive related and half industrial manufacturing based, hauls off byproducts from foundries, disposes of goods like light bulbs according to Environmental Protection Agency specifications, and works with customers to reduce employee hazards and promote alternatives to petrochemical use as well as complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Department of Transportation and EPA standards.

Buddy Judy, who works with the race teams in the area around Charlotte-Mooresville corridor, shared a challenge some of the shops were having regarding hazardous waste. In North Carolina, 220 pounds of what is designated as hazardous waste is exempted from regulation each month. Once a facility goes over that number, EPA steps in and the rules are more stringent. Buddy found that most shops were not recycling spray cans (used for a number of different applications); Safety-Kleen stepped in to solve the challenge. Cans are collected, drained, and the contents recycled and cans scrapped. One race shop can produce 15,000 cans a year; Safety-Kleen helps keep the shop under the 220-pound monthly limit by dealing with the cans.

Safety-Kleen also installs and maintains parts cleaners in all kinds of shops, pulls pigments out of used paint cans (pigment is not hazardous) and extracts and recycles the thinner.

Ever had a jewelry store clean a piece of jewelry in its sonic cleanser? It comes out sparkling. Well, Safety-Kleen has something just like this except bigger. Big enough for engines! Yes, the water is filtered and removes oil and grease and during the scheduled maintenance the water is recycled and filters changed. Amazing.

Corinne Economaki