Recycling Oil in Galápagos

Transport of Used Oil 3
Transporting used oil for recycling in Galápagos. (WWF photo)

While the tourism business on Galápagos is booming,  it’s producing a growing amount of used oil that can pollute the islands’ delicate environment. Now, the World Wildlife Fund says it is working on a solution to that problem.

Contractors hired by WWF now collect 51 percent of the used oil for recycling and hope to increase that percentage in future years.

In a recently completed study, the WWF Galápagos Program said that the amount of used oil generated by internal combustion engines on the islands has more than doubled over a ten year period, 57 percent of this attributed to tourism.  Last year, ships, boats and cars in Galápagos produced 9,837 gallons of used oil each month.  A decade earlier, it was 4,398 gallons a month. This represents an average increase of 12 percent a year over the ten-year period.

The 49 percent of used oil that is not recycled is typically used for treating lumber and as a pesticide, practices that may cause pollution of the islands’ environment and water sources.

The WWF said environmental regulation is insufficient, adding that there is a lack of knowledge about the hazards caused by bad waste oil disposal.

Most public institutions, the report said, do not have written rules of procedure for the management of used oils in Galápagos.

“There are two companies on Galápagos in charge of collecting the oil from institutions, mechanics and tourism operators,” said Max Martin, of  the WWF Galápagos Program.  “After recollection and storage, the oil is being transported by them to Guayaquil and handed over to companies with environmental licenses for final disposal.”

The report stressed the need for better coordination between public agencies and private individuals and companies in getting the oil collected properly.

In an email exchange with Galapagos Digital, Martin said that WWF is planning to work with public institutions so that they can formulate future rules and regulations for the disposal of used oil with the goal of recycling more of it.