»  Home » What are biolubricants? » Why biolubricants?


Measuring the environmental 
friendliness of lubricants


Why should biolubricants be used?
Because of the way in which they are generally used, lubricants often end up in water or soil via loss or leakage loss (see Examples of Oil Pollution). They can be harmful to flora and fauna, especially when they have poor biodegradability. This can affect and diminish the quality of life in and around surface waters. Lubricants used in agriculture or shipping in ecologically sensitive areas are harmful to soil life and aquatic organisms because of the poor biodegradability of mineral oils and the toxicity of certain additives. Ultimately, the quality of drinking water and/or food safety may be at risk.

In the early 1990's, the German working group VDMA 24568 estimated that a maximum of 10% of hydraulic fluids and almost 50% of greases are released into the environment. If these numbers are extrapolated to current figures in Europe, this would come down to ca. 66,000 tonnes of hydraulic fluids and ca. 65,000 tonnes of grease being released into the environment on a yearly basis. Next to engine oil, hydraulic fluids constitute the second largest share of total oil consumption. However, the amount of hydraulic fluids ending up in the environment is equal to the amounts of grease, concrete release agents and chainsaw oil combined. (Krop & Theodori, 2009).

Conventional mineral-based lubricants can pollute surface waters for up to a hundred years. Even small amounts of mineral oil can inhibit the growth of trees. Mineral oil is also toxic to aquatic life forms (even 0.1 ppm of mineral oil reduces the life span of shrimp by as much as 80%).

Biodiversity is better maintained by using non-toxic and readily biodegradable products. The use of renewable materials also reduces a product's carbon dioxide emission. The possible prevention of emissions into the environment by way of maintenance or system adjustments should always be considered.