Biodegradability & Other Environmental Benefits

Biodegradability is defined as the ability of a substance to be digested or consumed by naturally occurring microorganisms present in water, air and soil systems. Complete biodegradability is the conversion of a substance to carbon dioxide and water.

There are several standard test methods used to measure biodegradability. The test generally accepted in Europe is the Organization of European Cooperative Development (OECD) 301B test. This test is accepted by product developers and consumers as a “measuring stick” to help the user to understand the products’ environmental impact. ASTM D7373 is gaining acceptance as evidenced by EPA’s inclusion into the 2013 VGP guidelines.

Acceptable or passing levels for these tests are as follows:

Biodegradability, % ASTM D7373 > 60%
Biodegradability, % in 28 days OECD 301B ≥ 60%

Beware of greenwashing! While many products claim to be biodegradable, the question of how quickly and easily they degrade is critical to how environmentally friendly they can be considered and how they are treated by law.

There are two widely used designations for biodegradability: Inherently biodegradable and readily biodegradable. Simply saying something is biodegradable still means it can persist in the environment for years, continuing to cause substantial damage, and often require long-term remediation—for example, petroleum based products. Inherent biodegradation is defined as degrading > 20 percent to < 60 percent within 28 days. Readily biodegradable materials, on the other hand, degrade by 60 percent or more within 28 days or less. For those products on the higher range of that scale, like those of RSC Bio Solutions, this means that the material will degrade before major environmental damage has occurred.

Inherently biodegradable is defined as the characteristic of a product to be consumed by naturally occurring organisms in nature over an indefinite period of time (> 20% but < 60% as measured by OECD 301B testing). This characteristic is defined by the original composition of the product). Readily biodegradable is defined as the ability of a product to biodegrade quickly and completely (≥ 60% by OECD 301/ASTM D7373 testing).

Biodegradable oil can be used in any equipment operating in sensitive environments. Biodegradable oils have been designed for equipment that has the ability to come in direct contact with air, soil, or water systems and pose no risk to mammalian, vegetation or aquatic life because these products are minimally toxic and not bioaccumulative.

There are a wide range of performance levels among both readily biodegradable and petroleum based products and lubricants. Consumers have a wide array of options from less expensive, lower performance lubricants to the high-end, high performing products. While care must be taken in choosing the appropriate product for the specific application, readily biodegradable products also fall into this range. It’s important to know that some readily biodegradable products provide higher performance results than petroleum based ones. The unique formulas developed by RSC Bio Solutions’ chemists and engineers are designed to meet or exceed the performance attributes of any product on the market in terms of operating under a wide range of extreme temperature conditions, in high pressure applications, with long wear and fluid life and offering anticorrosive properties.

As categorized by ISO 6743, there are four types of biodegradable fluids:

  • Hydraulic Environmental Triglycerides (HETG)
  • Hydraulic Environmental Polyalkylene Glycols (HEPG)
  • Hydraulic Environmental Synthetic Esters (HEES)
  • Hydraulic Environmental PAO (Polyalphaolefins) and Related Hydrocarbon Products (HEPR)

No, the products need temperature, microbes and water to biodegrade.

RSC Bio Solutions' lubricants have been approved by many OEMs for use in their equipment and either meet or exceed all OEM requirements. These products, as mentioned above, perform as well as or better than petroleum based products, which can play a major role in extending the life of your equipment. With this in mind, many OEMs are now approving use of and offering factory-filling of their equipment with RSC Bio Solutions' readily biodegradable products.

The most critical consideration to bear in mind is that not all readily biodegradable products are created equal. Beware of greenwashing, and be sure to select a vendor whose products are created through solid research, backed by guarantees and proven through extensive testing and field validation.

For more information on RSC Bio Solutions’ line of high performance, environmentally friendly, readily biodegradable products, please refer to our Products page.

Disposal of all FUTERRA™ or EnviroLogic® products should be handled according to the same used for conventional petroleum oils. They can also be mixed with petroleum based products in waste drums and if used in a recycling/fuel process and/or product.

Reporting requirements varies from state to state and county to county across the United States. You should always report a spill and also notify the regulating entity that it is a readily biodegradable product and provide them with the safety data sheets if necessary. There is a good probability that reduced cleanup and fine response will be much less severe as compared to spilling a hazardous product. 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), roughly 706 million gallons of petroleum are released into the ocean each year. Many believe that the bulk of this is caused by major catastrophic oil spills. However, the facts demonstrate that small spills or minor leaks add up significantly over time. In reality, a 2010 study estimated that between 10 and 16 million gallons of spills are caused by poor maintenance practices or regular leaks and spills. This means that those companies who truly wish to be environmentally responsible must take a look at the full range of their equipment, maintenance processes and product use to make the most sustainable choices.

For example, work truck fleets that are promoting CNG can also add truck body decals to promote use of FUTERRA™ and EnviroLogic® fluids. Many companies and cities have generated press releases and shared the news on local and national levels. When a spill occurs that could be potentially hazardous, use of readily biodegradable fluid mitigates a potentially negative event more.

EPA 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP)

While leaks play a major role in water pollution, unplanned discharges are also a serious problem. Under the EPA’s 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP), all ships larger than 79 feet must use Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants in oil-to-sea interfaces when in the three Nautical Mile limit and in the Great Lakes unless technically infeasible. These regulations include vessel discharges such as oil, waste, water and runoff. The permit also requires any above water line hull cleaning or deck wash downs resulting in discharge to be conducted with ‘minimally toxic, phosphate-free and biodegradable’ cleaners and detergents.

Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants are defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as lubricants that minimize their likely adverse consequences in the aquatic environment, compared to conventional lubricants and have also been demonstrated to meet standards for these three key characteristics per the EPA 2013 VGP Appendix A:

  • Biodegradable - biodegrading into carbon dioxide and water by ≥ 60% or more within 28 days (according to OECD 301B or ASTM D7373 methods)
  • Minimally toxic - causing only a light impact on the aquatic environment (LC50> 100mg/L for lubricants and LC50>1000mg/L)
  • Not bioaccumulative - must have a low propensity to bioaccumulate in organisms

The EPA recognizes four types of EALs:

  • Hydraulic Environmental Triglycerides (HETG)
  • Hydraulic Environmental Polyalkylene Glycols (HEPG)
  • Hydraulic Environmental Synthetic Esters (HEES)
  • Hydraulic Environmental PAO (Polyalphaolefins) and Related Hydrocarbon Products (HEPR)

If a product meets the above criterion, it is approved by the EPA and self-certified as VGP 2013 compliant. The EPA does not certify or recommend EALs.

Barges, cargo ships, container ships, commercial fishing vessels, cruise ships, emergency response vessels, mobile offshore drilling units, oil tankers, petroleum tankers, ROVs and more can be affected by the 2013 VGP.

If a product meets the following criterion, it is considered technically feasible:

  • One or more OEM has approved EALs for use
  • EALs are available for pre-lubricated products
  • EALs are available in Vessel’s ports of call
  • Next dry dock has occurred

Selection Performance of FUTERRA™ Lubricants

FUTERRA™ is a Hydraulic Environmental PAO (Polyalphaolefins) and Related Hydrocarbon Products (HEPR) type environmentally acceptable lubricant and the only hydrocarbon renewable Environmentally Acceptable Lubricant (EAL) derived from a plant-based material.

FUTERRA™ was developed to address industry demand for enhanced sustainability combined with renewability, superior performance in critical areas such as hydrolytic stability, system compatibility and equipment uptime. 

As an Ecolabel-certified environmentally acceptable lubricant made from a renewable source, FUTERRA™ not only meets all current global environmental regulations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Vessel General Permit (VGP), but ensures compliance for years to come. That’s why we call it the Fluid of the Future.

According to the European Commission, the EU Ecolabel helps to identify products and services that have a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle, from the extraction of raw material through to production, use and disposal. Recognized throughout Europe, this is EU Ecolabel is a voluntary label promoting trusted environmental excellence.

FUTERRA™ allows for easy conversion and compatibility - FUTERRA™ is miscible with legacy fluids, allowing for easy conversion, and can be used as a drop-in replacement for other EALs and mineral oil-based lubricants. And, while some EALs are incompatible with certain types of seals, FUTERRA™ has very broad seal compatibility, even with traditional seals like NBR, allowing operators to use the seal that is the best choice for their specific needs. Please refer to OEM recommendation for seal type to be used with EALs.

FUTERRA™ increases system uptime – Like oil, FUTERRA™ is demulsifying – separating and allowing for the effective removal of water from the fluid and system. Because it is chemically formulated to resist breakdown and to have near zero foam tendency, operators are likely to choose this fluid to extend the time interval between dry docks over other EALs and to increase pump life. With FUTERRA™, operators are able to increase the effectiveness of the lubricant, extend service life of the equipment, reduce the need for change-outs and minimize fear of fluid failure.

FUTERRA™ increases operator flexibility – By meeting the highest global environmental standards, we’ve eliminated a large degree of complexity.  Operators often need to switch equipment or change out products based on where vessels are positioned.  RSC Bio Solutions offers greater flexibility in terms of route changes and equipment because with FUTERRA™, you can go anywhere.

FUTERRA™ is suitable for use as a lubricant anywhere conventional oil is used, but is intended primarily as a marine VGP-compliant fluid for use in a wide variety of equipment applications.

RSC Bio Solutions has conducted its own extensive testing on the product prior to launch. Initial testing data supporting our performance claims is available by contacting RSC Bio Solutions. We also continue to test and validate our claims and are in talks with several industry players to begin field demos to further substantiate our performance in early 2017. 

FUTERRA™’s price is higher than standard petroleum-based products, but will fall below the price point of high-end synthetic esters currently on the market. However, it is important to evaluate fluids in light of total cost of ownership. Given FUTERRA™’s performance and sustainability benefits and its ability to extend equipment service life and increase uptime, we believe it will offer the lowest total cost of ownership of any product on the market.

FUTERRA™’s excellent oxidative and hydrolytic stability and near zero foaming tendency, ensure that the fluid will last much longer than other EALs and conventional oils.  Our testing shows that FUTERRA™ has oxidative stability* of 3 to 4 times longer than other EALs, thus resisting breakdown and extending the life of the fluid (*per RPVOT ASTM D-2270) and allowing operators to significantly increase the time interval between change-outs. FUTERRA™ offers the only 10-year warranty for stern tube applications (restrictions apply).

With FUTERRA™, conversion couldn’t be simpler. FUTERRA™ offers greater flexibility and the ultimate system compatibility, allowing for easy drop-in replacement for mineral oil-based lubricants. And, while many EALs are incompatible with certain types of seals, FUTERRA™ has very broad seal compatibility, even with traditional seals like NBR, allowing operators to use the seal that is the best choice for their specific needs.  Please refer to OEM recommendation for seal type to be used with EALs.

Drop-in replacement means the ability to replace one fluid with another without any configuration changes, equipment upgrades or negative impacts.

Yes, RSC Bio Solutions stands behind our products. In fact, FUTERRA™ is backed by a limited 10-year warranty for stern tube applications that surpasses anything in the market today.

FUTERRA™ High Performance Hydraulic Fluid (HF) Series meets the requirements for a growing list of manufacturers that can be found here.

Selection Performance of EnviroLogic® Lubricants

An EnviroLogic® product cost relative to petroleum oils will depend greatly on petroleum oil utilized. Our customers tell us that EnviroLogic® products save them more overall:

  • Little, if any, protective equipment needed
  • Lower shipping, handling and containment costs
  • Lower cleanup costs
  • Lower regulatory costs and reduced risk of fines
  • Potentially longer changeover intervals

EnviroLogic® is approved by many original equipment and subcomponent pump manufacturers, and we continue to partner with specific OEMs to add others as customers request. For more information regarding approvals, contact your OEM directly or refer to our current OEM approval list.

EnviroLogic® readily biodegradable products have been thoroughly evaluated both in performance testing and in the field. The products meet or exceed the performance requirements of most major equipment manufacturers. EnviroLogic® products meet all relative API, ASTM, and other industry standards.

RSC Bio Solutions stands behind its products and will underwrite any proven lubricant-related field failure, not warranted by the equipment manufacturer, caused from the use of these products and substantiated by records documenting the proper use of the fluids.

It is required for this General Product Warranty that any fluid that has prior service use in the field must have been utilized and handled according to equipment manufacturer requirements and standard lubrication practices. This would include the availability of appropriate maintenance records. RSC Bio Solutions warrants only EnviroLogic® fluid performance. This product warranty will apply to all EnviroLogic® products that are commercially available.

The shelf life for EnviroLogic® products is warranted for two years, after which it can be recertified by RSC Bio Solutions for an additional year.

Our products are formulated to have excellent demulsibility characteristics (splitting of water). If water is determined to be above 1000 pm, measures should be taken (as with any hydraulic fluid) to remove the water to prevent interaction with additives and base fluids.

Yes, they are compatible with NBR (Buna), HNBR (hydrogenated Buna), AU (Polyurethane) and FKM (Viton).

It will depend on the specific oil, operating system temperature and pressure. EnviroLogic® oils usually last as long as or longer than comparable petroleum based fluids.

Key fluid performance indicators measured in oil sampling and analysis include:

  • Stay-in-grade kinematic viscosity @ 40°C
  • TAN increase
  • Water contamination
  • Additive/wear elements
  • Particle counts

Always follow the original equipment manufacturer’s suggested oil change frequency requirements or conduct regular oil sampling and analysis to determine exactly when oil needs to be changed. RSC Bio Solutions works closely with our customers to develop oil sampling and analysis programs. Please contact your sales representative to learn more.

The flush and fill procedure to convert to EnviroLogic® products is as simple as the cleaning and maintenance procedure you currently use for scheduled care of your equipment. Although it is not required, we recommend flushing the hydraulic system with EnviroLogic® BioFlush before filling with the appropriate hydraulic fluid.

A residual amount of petroleum oil will remain in the sump of the equipment. This will have no effect on the performance of the EnviroLogic® fluid. 

For further detailed equipment flushing procedures, please contact us at (800) 661-3558 for EnviroLogic® Changeover Procedure.

The following information is used to determine the best biodegradable fluid:

  • Name and viscosity grade of current fluid used in the hydraulic system
  • OEM hydraulic fluid specification or recommendations
  • System operating temperature and pressure
  • System application specifics

Please refer to our product data sheets for best match or call our technical specialists for recommendation at (800) 661-3558.

Yes, EnviroLogic® and petroleum based fluids can be mixed together. When mixing fluids in a hydraulic power system, environmental benefits of EnviroLogic® are reduced in relative proportion to the amount of petroleum based oil. We recommend draining the system of petroleum oil, flushing with EnviroLogic® BioFlush and then refilling the system with recommended EnviroLogic® product for maximization of environmental benefits.

EnviroLogic® lubricants can be mixed and disposed of in the same waste oil drum as petroleum based fluids.

We also offer our EnviroLogic® customers reservoir and equipment decals to help minimize the risk of accidental system contamination.

Based on extensive field testing performed by and with our customers and independent laboratories, we have found that our fluids perform equally or superior to their petroleum based counterparts. The performance benefits EnviroLogic® products offer include:

  • Reduced environmental impact (Readily Biodegradable, Minimally Toxic and not Bioaccumulative)
  • Equal or better lubricating performance relative to petro-chemical based fluids
  • Equal or longer fluid change out intervals compared to incumbent petrochemical based fluids
  • Improved hydraulic component wear protection
  • Extended component life