Intent on doing its part to reduce environmental impact -- and generate a bit of new green business in the process -- Valvoline has just launched its new line of NextGen motor oil. This greener alternative contains 50 percent recycled motor oil, but as its producer notes "offers 100-percent Valvoline protection" and is made using a propriatery formula that exceeds all manufacturer and SAE/API specifications. Just like the company's current line of traditional lubricants, it's backed by the Valvoline Engine Guarantee program.

Formulated in conventional, synthetic and Max (for higher-mileage vehicles) blends, Valvoline NextGen is created by re-refining select high-grade used motor oil to remove all of the contaminants -- including dirt, fuel, solvents and metal particles that effectively diminish its otherwise unchanged inherent lubricating qualities -- as well as the other 15 percent of the basic volume that consists of various additives. The result is "base" oil that possesses all of the characteristics of virgin petroleum. It subsequently gets blended with an equal amount of newly refined or synthetic oil plus a new batch of select additives to become NextGen.

In addition to requiring less actual new crude to be pulled out of the ground and refined, the NextGen production process also results in a significantly smaller carbon footprint as well as fewer pollutants being released to the atmosphere. With Americans alone going through about three billion quarts of oil in their vehicles each year, Valvoline believes there will always be a ready supply of this "raw" material and that if everyone on the country switched to NextGen, we'd be able to trim our vehicle-based petroleum demands by some 400 million gallons of oil annually.

Valvoline's vice president of global marketing, Blair Boggs, admits that some formidable hurdles remain on both the supply and demand side of the equation for his company and any other producer who sees the benefits of marketing recycled formulations. "Our challenge is to drive consumer acceptance. NextGen will reduce our dependence on crude oil. It's not going to change the world, but it is going to make a dent." Currently being sold in several regional markets, Valvoline plans to roll out national distribution and TV advertising for its NextGen oil starting in April.

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