Quest Resource Management Group manages environmental and recycling programs for auto dealerships, fleet operators and quick lube locations. In 2013, the company managed 20 million gallons of used motor oil, 1.9 million gallons of oily water, 13.7 million pounds of used oil filters, 15 million used tires, and 13,000 parts from washer services.
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Brian Dick, Quest CEO, spoke to Aftermarket Business World about the challenges of recycling waste materials at auto dealerships.
What kinds of services do you typically provide for dealerships?
We facilitate recycling services for clients, but we don't own any trucks or drivers. We handle the management of all the contractors who do have trucks. We are a single point of contact for dealers, and we manage and coordinate various recycling services and companies. We service around 8,000 automotive and fleet management locations. We help them dispose of or recycle motor oil, scrap tires, oil filters, anti-freeze, and we do anything related to painting, like paint waste, filters, along with parts washers, solvent recovery, oily water – the whole scope of anything that comes from servicing a vehicle, basically.
Why do companies outsource this management function?
One is that we have a pricing advantage. Customers can piggyback onto our buying power, since we represent thousands of dealerships. We're a one-stop shop.
There's definitely more of an awareness of being green. If you sell more hybrid and electric cars, and you're trying to market a Volt or a Prius, the people coming in to make those buying decisions do care about what the dealership is doing in terms of sustainability efforts. A lot of dealer groups do a great job of recycling, but aren’t doing very well at marketing that. They ask us to help them with promotional videos or marketing posters to get the word out.
A lot of states, depending on the type of waste, have manifest retention requirements, so dealers have to hold the documents related to hazardous waste shipments. That can be a challenge, so we scan those invoices and manifests, and make them available via a Web portal.
What are some key trends in hazardous waste disposal right now?
Tire pressure monitoring sensors are one. There are about 113 million vehicles with those sensors in them, and each one has a small lithium battery. They are starting to wear out, and proper disposal of those batteries is a hot topic. Another one is wheel weights. There has been a shift away from lead wheel weights to steel, which creates a mixed stream of both types. In the past the battery suppliers took those to get the lead, but they don't want to have to separate out the steel weights.
Another one is going to be changeover from metallic oil filters to cartridge filters. There was a regulatory exemption on filters because they were considered scrap metal instead of hazardous wastes, but with the plastic and fiber filters they would have to be tested. That's going to become a regulatory hot button.
What's the biggest benefit that dealerships achieve when it comes to outsourcing disposal and recycling?
Waste disposal and recycling is not their core business, so if they can hire someone else to come in and take care of procurement, that's a benefit to them. They can refocus their own assets toward their core business of selling cars and fixing them, which is a huge opportunity for them.
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