I recently took five gallons of used motor oil and four dirty oil filters to my local auto parts store for recycling. The oil was transported in plastic jugs that once held iced tea, laundry detergent and antifreeze. I carried the oil filters in plastic bags.
Dumping old oil into huge steel receptacles and draining the old filters is messy and unpleasant. You might ask, "Well, why not just get your oil changed at a Jiffy Lube or at a new-car dealership?" The oil and filters came from my small fleet of classic cars. Express oil-change businesses don't stock filters for long-out-of-production Triumph sports cars, and no one but me works on my cars.
After you've dumped used oil, the auto parts store requires you to take the empty containers with you. Because those containers are coated with oil, they can't go into the recycling bin, so they end up in the landfill. While wiping oil from my hands, I thought: There has to be a better way. Turns out there might be something coming that changes everything about the way motor oil and filters -- the latter considered an environmental hazard by the EPA -- are handled.
This is a story about two companies you've likely never heard of -- Hubb Filters Inc. and Motormindz Inc. It shines a light on how a part of Detroit works that you don't often hear about: how a person or a company brings an innovation to market. It's usually a long and expensive process that ends in frustration, futility and failure -- and that's before the lawyers get involved.
About the two companies: Hubb Filters has developed a superefficient oil filter that is designed to be cleaned and reused. It would replace today's oil filter, which is much the same as it was 75 years ago. An oil filter has a paper element housed in a metal container. Hubb claims because its reusable stainless steel filter captures debris as small as 5 microns, improves oil flow and lengthens the life of motor oil, oil change intervals can be extended, saving money for vehicle owners, placing less used oil in the environment and eliminating the used oil filter problem.