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October 4, 2019

Volume 7 Issue 8

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Association to Tackle ‘Green’ Standard

The Shanghai Lubricant Trade Association is organizing a new committee whose first priority will be to set up standards for so-called environmentally friendly lubes.

Speaking at the Enmore Lubricants Raw Materials summit in Nanjing, China, on Sept. 19, the association’s president said the Automotive Chemical Products Committee will be formed by the end of this year.

“Many lube producers claim their lubes are ‘green,’ but what is ‘green’?” Wu Yuedi said during a panel discussion. “What are the standards? Without standards, the word ‘green’ is easily abused.”

Indeed, a quick search on the internet finds a number of self-claimed “green” lube suppliers. Among them are Beijing-based blender Yashi Ke Lai En, Yongkang-based Danfer Wangli Lubricating Oil and the French company Unil-Opal.

Wu said that state-owned energy giant and lubricant marketer Sinopec suggested he should use biodegradability as the key gauge for “green” lubes, but Wu argued that testing biodegradability could be costly and time-consuming.

“Testing methods must be cost effective and easier for adoption,” he said.

He added that the purpose for setting up the standard is to establish a recognized definition and grant the “green” label to lubes that comply with it. Wu plans to ask local associations in other regions to join him on this project, just like what he did in establishing a price index for API Group II base oils in late 2018.

“Each regional association could talk to the local tax office to give tax incentives to the lubes with ‘green’ labels,” he said. “I personally think it’s highly possible, as ‘green’-related businesses are very much encouraged by the Chinese government.”

The committee now has one stand-by member Valvoline. Wu expects other companies to join soon.

During the panel discussion, attendees from companies including Total and BP showed interest joining the committee, but they also expressed concerns, for example about how the standard would be administered.

“For example, who will be responsible for lube testing, and how often will the label be renewed? There must be someone to oversee the whole process,” said an attendee from BP.

Wu said he has spoken to people from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which has a legitimate lab for testing of petrochemical products.

“They told me they will be happy to take charge of the testing once the standards are out. I would say how to carry out the project shouldn’t be a big problem because we have the resources,” he said.

Another attendee questioned whether trade associations are allowed to undertake such initiatives. Wu said China encourages associations across industries to develop systems that encourage “green” businesses and that China’s regulations on associations authorize such activities.

Developing a “green” label for lubes won’t be the committee’s only task. Wu said it will be named the Automotive Chemical Products Committee because he intends it to be involved with every chemical product used in a car, from glass cleaner to urea.

“Right now none of them has a standard, and I see the committee can play a big role here,” he said.