Getting the most from every drop

A “win-win” approach started in Quebec gives used oil a second life.

Amélie Ferron-Craig is a Media Relations Officer at the University of Ottawa and former Manager of Communications at the Canadian Fuels Association.

When you consider that a single litre of used oil can contaminate one million litres of water, the need to prevent the release of petroleum products into the environment becomes paramount.

Gilles Goddard knows. He’s General Manager of Société de gestion des huiles usagées du Québec (SOGHU), a private body funded by companies that market motor oil, oil filters, antifreeze and lubricants. SOGHU’s task: under Goddard’s leadership, protect the environment by recovering used oil and other potentially harmful products.

A systematic approach

SOGHU’s unique approach to recovery and reclamation breaks the market into three groups. Generators comprise the 12,000 industry and automotive service sites where oil and related products are used. Collectors gather the used products from more than 1,000 collection facilities. Collection is free, thanks to refunds paid by SOGHU. The products are then sold to processors, who decontaminate and transform the products to give them a second life.

This approach benefits everyone, a fact that helped Goddard promote SOGHU to all stakeholders in the value chain. “The win-win approach is one of my basic principles,” Goddard explained. “When I consider a project, I always think of the people who will be involved and what benefits they will derive from it. That’s how the program is managed.”


above: Automotive service centres are among the 12,000 sites from which used oil is gathered.


Goddard has a reputation for getting things done. Throughout his 16-year career in municipal government, he applied his skills to form partnerships and solve problems. When he served as municipal representative on the Board of Directors of Éco-Peinture, the organization responsible for paint recovery in Québec, he quickly drew the attention of Recyc-Québec, the province’s recovery and recycling corporation. That’s how he ended up with the demanding mandate to set up SOGHU.

Bringing on new partners

Goddard has succeeded in extending his approach to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island through the Atlantic Used Oil Management Association (SOGHUOMA). In 2015, 190 collection facilities in these two provinces gathered more than 3.4 million litres of used oil.

Despite rapid success, SOGHUOMA had to adapt to new challenges. For example, many garages in Atlantic Canada burn used oil to power auxiliary heating systems, which accounts for 55 percent of the volume of oil sold.

Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia are now on the horizon for SOGHU. Goddard has been working with these provincial governments for nearly three years to help them adopt regulations harmonized with those of other provinces.

Well earned recognition

Goddard’s efforts aren’t going unnoticed. In 2015, he received the prestigious Canadian Stewardship Award from the Canadian Product Stewardship Council, recognizing those who have achieved distinction in recovery and reclamation. What makes Goddard especially proud is that he was nominated by Recyc-Québec, with letters of support from several Canadian provinces—a great accolade for a win-win approach that delivers results.

by the numbers




Valuable industry support
SOGHU and SOGHUOMA benefit in a variety of ways from the support of the Canadian Fuels Association. Member companies of Canadian Fuels are among those who fund these organizations. Senior Canadian Fuels staff have taken up key roles. Carol Montreuil, Vice-President, Eastern Canada, is Chair of the Board of Directors of SOGHU. Director of Public Affairs, Bill Simpkins, provides valuable strategic guidance in Atlantic Canada. Brian Ahearn, Vice-President, Western Canada, is also Chair of the Board of Directors of the Used Oil Management Association, SOGHU’s parent body.