Can Sustainability be Sustained in the Lubricant Industry?

Is sustainability important to the lubricant industry?

Europe seems to think so. Late last year the Union of the European Lubricants Industry (UEIL) announced the formation of a sustainability task force charged with developing a framework to measure the sustainability of lubricant companies.

Curiously, the lubricant industry is not often viewed in tandem with sustainability efforts. This may be due to the industry coming under the broader umbrella of the energy sector, which suffers from negative public perceptions of its environmental impact.

Yet lubricants themselves enable “an enormous impact on the environment”, emphasized Valentina Serra-Holm, president of the UEIL, in this insightful read on Lubes’n’Greases.

Lubricants reduce friction and thus energy use; the UEIL noted that 30 percent of global energy production is lost to friction, wear, and corrosion. Lubes also increase the lifetime of equipment, thus reducing the demand of steel and other raw materials.

Certainly this isn’t new to us. A 2014 case study featured in the Club showed how upgrading lubricating oil to an energy-saving synthetic product resulted in an improvement in operation efficiency, an annual saving for the customer of £2,500, and a reduction of the company’s carbon footprint by nearly 20 tons of CO2 equivalent per year.

One of our previous posts even listed five ways effective equipment lubrication can help you reach your sustainability goals – the post may be old but the principles, from using synthetics to high performance lubes, are certainly sound. Check it out!

So what else can be done to improve the image of the lubricant industry in terms of sustainability?

Chairman of the UEIL sustainability taskforce, Apu Gosalia, boldly suggested that lubricant companies receive credit for their social impact. He added that lube specifications in the future would incorporate sustainability criteria. He also highlighted that more can be done to educate stakeholders that lubes should be as viewed as an enabler of sustainability – lubes may actually reduce more CO2 overall when being used in equipment than when they’re actually produced.

How is your company using lubricants to contribute to a more sustainable future? What can the industry do more to promote sustainability? Do share with us your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

  • Recent studies talk about how organizations' actions are observed from an ethical, environmental and social perspective on their management of sustainable development. The retail industry has an acceptable place. However, it is not at the top spots of the list.There are industries with a better concept, like the food and beverage industry, which is in the first place followed by the technology industry and then the financial sector and the banks.The retail industry is in the fourth place.

    To maintain a sustainable business, the first thing is to realize that investments have to be made: investments, not expenses. That is to say, this strategy should be seen as "if I don't invest today in that change, tomorrow I may not even have a business."

    To manage the change, a starting point and an estimated arrival point must be established; it is essential to measure during the time in which this is going to be done, how much it will cost, what human, material and technological resources are needed.