by Paul Williams

BOB oil recovery system
click image to enlarge

Each year close to three-and-a-half billion quart containers of motor oil are discarded in the US. Yes, that’s billion with a “b”. The thing is, there’s gold in them thar bottles, and here’s why. Anyone who’s topped up their car’s engine oil knows that most of the oil empties from the container in a few seconds. Then you get the endless drip, drip, drip for the remainder to trickle out.

Actually, it turns out that many hours are required to empty these oil containers, and who’s got the time? Chances are you give up and dump it way before that. Problem is, so does everybody else. Research indicates that about 4% of the contents remains in each container, which means that in the US, about 150 million liters of oil is wasted annually from this activity alone.

Of course, it’s not just that you’re wasting the oil. Throw out these containers, and the oil is wasting the environment. Imagine millions of containers each leaking oil into landfills around the country. Not nice.

There are solutions to this, and the Bottom of the Bottle (BOB) oil recovery system one of them. Brainchild of Californian Gerard Forgnone, BOB is a plastic tray that you can attach to the wall of your garage, or hang from a shelf. It holds 5 containers and permits the oil to completely drain from them. The recovered oil fills another bottle that can be used later. It’s low-tech, simple, and it’s cheap, at about $15.00 each.

But BOB has a couple of obstacles. First of all, can you motivate yourself to actually do this? On an individual basis, the payback in dollars isn’t really substantial, and it’s certainly not immediate. Additionally, BOB is made to conveniently accept standard size plastic oil containers with small necks. Granted this covers most of the available brands, but it’s too bad the industry is now introducing large and medium-necked containers (they empty more quickly, I guess). So you’ll have to adapt BOB if you use Mobil 1, or other large-necked brands.

Personally, I can see myself giving it a try. It’s virtually no work, and aside from using my blue and black boxes, I know I’m not as environmentally conscious as I should be. So, here’s something I can do, and the benefits are several. I get the oil for my car; I prevent this oil from polluting my local environment; and by fully draining the container, I enable recyclers to easily recover the plastic. I can do this. I like the common sense of it.

BOB is available online from, automotive mail-order catalogs like Eastwood, and is soon to be available in national retail chains.

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