Chasing full recovery via the Green Route

March 19, 2001 in News

It’s time to set the record straight about Fred Wren.

The larger than life Californian farmer-turned-environmentalist has too much invested in Western Australia to be the millionaire some suspect he already is.

But if the financial rewards do come his way Western Australians should be grateful. Because Fred Wren’s success will be in direct proportion to the environmental benefits accrued by WA. It will happen because Fred Wren and his family had the courage and the vision to decide it was time for them to take an active part in recycling the oil which is a legacy of our automotive, transport, mining, agricultural and other industries.

History will show that once taken, the decision to inaugurate Wren Oil was not implemented without considerable dramas of a fiscal, political and environmental nature.

The amount of money invested in the Wren Oil refinery and recycling plant at Picton near Bunbury, is mind-blowing. There are enough Wren Oil trucks collecting used oils, hydraulic fluids, coolant and other liquids on a statewide basis to do justice to a significant transport outfit.

They drag in about 12 million litres of oil from collection runs which cover the state from the south coast, east to the Goldfields, north through the Pilbara and beyond.

Wren guarantees that every last drop will be recycled. Because his company is so good at its job. not only does the environment benefit, we all have more money in our pockets as well. That’s because much of Wren’s used oil is recycled to fuel Western Power generating stations. This results in an across-the-state cost saving ­ as well as significant environmental benefits ­ so we all pay less for power. Believe me, its better to use the stuff than try to jettison it.

It is a favorite Wren Oil saying that one litre of oil can contaminate a million litres of groundwater. Much smarter to clean and use oil as at least a fuel source.

There are various levels of that fuel produced by Wren. In its most basic form it powers brickworks, foundries, abattoirs as well as Western Power installations. Which means those businesses spend less so there’s more money to go around, more protection for a finite resource. Which probably pleases everyone but the initial producers.

They too, have been charged with accepting responsibility for lubrication oils they produce. Producers have to be able to account for oils produced and oils sold. It’s called oil stewardship and it comes at a charge to the user to cover the cost of looking after that oil.

There’s no charge for the Wren Oil service, however. It will supply on-site inspection tanks, will collect waste oils and coolants according to regular schedules and it will even ensure a secure future for old oily rags. There are second lives to be lived by used solvents and water-based parts washing fluids and such a horde of other products recovered we should blush in memory of those fluids we use to toss away. Too often as latent environmental hazards no-one particularly cared about.

Wren Oil’s is a good news story. Its recovered product include kero, petrol, diesel and glycol, while the re-refining process also includes concrete mould oil, chainsaw bar oil and hydraulic oil. Re-refined motor oil could be a real possibility for the future.

There are some wastes from Wren which don’t have ready sales appeal. But they are not allowed to degrade the environment either. A system of sludge treatments and disposal and biological or evaporative on site oily water treatments means that any surplus is environmentally benign. Even some of these wastes live again; they are recycled for refinery washdowns.

None of this happened by chance. It happened because Fred Wren saw an opportunity to supply second­life fuel oil to a local abattoir and it grew from there. It happened despite some heavy duty commercial battles and it happened solidly enough to give Fred the confidence to return to his native US to buy technology to enable him to refine products even further.

That meant very substantial investments, involving an enormous vote of confidence in the future of going green when Fred Wren bought a complete processing package from his native US. He showed me round the place, but, techo-simpleton as he must believe me to be, I’m certain it would take me days to get my head round the intricacies of this operation. Which doesn’t really matter at all. What does matter is that the 12 million litre Wren Oil harvest represents less than a half of used WA oils which could be treated.

If the majority of that gets into the Wren Oil pipeline, the environmental benefits accruing to WA will be enormous.

I get the distinct impress that if anyone can make it work, Fred Wren can. Especially now sons Alex and David are fully fledged members of the operation, looking after transport and refining matters respectively.

Written by David Lloyd – Editor
Motor Western Australia
Publication of the Motor Trade Association of Western Australia
Volume 66 March 2001
ISSN 1442-8148

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