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Gulf Guardian Award Winners 2004

Business Category - 2nd Place

Project #: GG-04-15
Company: Tech Oil Products, Inc., LA
Project Name: Recycle the Gulf
Category: Business
Project Type: Habitat and Public Health

Summary: Offshore waste recycling projects were attempted in the past by many different companies with varying results, but most were ineffective or abandoned. Tech Oil Products was part of an unsuccessful large scale effort in the early 1990’s that tried to make recycling a permanent practice offshore. For offshore recycling to be accepted and practiced, a new, innovative, and rewarding concept was needed. A “Win-Win-Win” formula was devised by Tech Oil Products that provided a means to reduce and separate the volume on offshore locations, have a deposit bin onshore, provide transportation to a central location, collect, grade, and account for the volume received. Recyclable material was given to charities for resale as income. With Tech Oil’s new process, the company image and its employee’s win, the environment wins by everyone doing the right thing, and the community wins by helping out those in need.

Description: What could make recycling work after 12 years of starting and stopping? The management of Tech Oil Products realized that a new approach was needed, as they had been involved in two attempts to make this idea a viable concept for offshore operations.

What were the problems in early recycling? The concept of recycling was once thought to be profitable. In reality, recyclable material does not pay for the high cost of transportation on land, much less offshore. Today municipalities have a tax in place to cover the cost of pickup and separation. A paradigm shift was necessary so that offshore operators understood that not only would their recycling efforts not be profitable, but the efforts would also cost quite a bit if expected to be successful. Therefore, a long-term commitment was needed that would survive personnel changes. Major oil companies rotate personnel to new positions in management about every two to three years, new cost-cutting management could end the recycling program all together. Therefore, a long-term agreement was required to spread the cost over a longer period, providing for an “acceptable” daily cost.

Tech Oil established a central recycling facility in New Iberia, Louisiana. The goal was to recycle rig and platform waste generated offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. The challenge was to devise a workable plan that both the CEO of a major oil company and the cook on a drilling rig could implement and accept.

The goals were lofty: first, there needed to be a long term commitment from the highest authority in the company to pay for recycling. Second, there must be a company willing to take on the whole endeavor, from building the equipment necessary to reducing the volume of waste offshore, having bins available at each dock site, picking up and transporting waste to recycling centers, checking, grading, and delivering the recyclables to a non-profit organization for them to sell, and employing the handicapped. Tech Oil Products took on this commitment and is currently servicing 23 offshore locations.

Today, if you count the people on the rigs and platforms, there are approximately 1,400 participants. If you consider that every week, another crew takes over, the number is doubled. ARC of Iberia employs more than 200 people, of which 20 are dedicated solely to the Recycling Program. Under the “Recycle the Gulf” program, 626,440 pounds of cardboard, tin, plastic, aluminum, and paper have been collected. The environmental impact of this effort is enormous.

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Gulf of Mexico Program Office
Mail Code: EPA/GMPO
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
FAX: 228-688-2709

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