Present at the meeting were:
Mike Williamson (Chair)
Malcolm Forbes (for Phillip Glyde)
Ewen McPherson (for Bryan Nye)
Bruce Male (Environment Australia)
Donna Bond (Secretariat officer)
Richard LaGanza (Special Projects - Fuchs) - present for Item 11 only
Alf Untersteller (Managing Director - Fuchs) - present for Item 11 only
Pierre Muehlheim (Application Technology Manager - Fuchs) - present for Item 11 only
Summary Record of Discussions and Resolutions
Item 1: Welcome
Mr Williamson welcomed delegates and apologised for his late arrival, which he explained was due to Melbourne traffic. Mr Williamson introduced Mr Ewen McPherson (representing Mr Bryan Nye) and Mr Forbes apologised for Mr Phil Glyde who was unable to attend.
Item 2: Adoption of the Draft Agenda
- OSAC adopted the draft agenda.
Item 3: Approval of Minutes of the Last Meeting
- The Minutes of the last meeting were approved without amendment. Moved by Ms Halliday and seconded by Mr O'Connor.
Item 4: Expression of Conflicts of Interest
- There were no conflicts of interest expressed.
Item 5: Australian Taxation Office - Report (Patrick Colmer)
Mr Colmer reported:
- A slight increase in benefit payments.
- The $2.78 million benefit claims paid since August is in line with expectations.
- On track to pay $8.4 million in benefits this financial year.
- The process of removing the indexation on excise has not progressed since the election.
- Applications for exemptions are still being assessed and will be provided to the new Ministers shortly.
Mr McPherson asked about the status of the annual report. Mr Forbes explained that the report was completed before the election and, following clearance by the new Minister, will be tabled in Parliament. This is expected to occur early in 2002.
Mr O'Connor asked which categories generated benefit claims/payments. Mr Colmer answered that most claims have been for burner fuels (categories 5 and 6) with some claims for diesel (category 3). There have been no claims for base oil or diesel extenders (categories 1, 2 and 4).
Matters Arising from Previous Meeting
Item 6: Transitional Assistance Funds - Environment Australia (Bruce Male)
Mr Male reported:
- Environment Australia is finalising the first round expression of interest. As soon as this is completed, OSAC will be advised of the results.
- Environment Australia will be advertising the second round expression of interest in February 2002.
- Environment Australia will be writing to rural councils prior to Christmas inviting them to apply for grants of up to $20,000 to construct or upgrade waste oil collection facilities. Applications will be accepted until about the end of March.
- Copies of these letters will be sent to OSAC members.
Ms Halliday asked how much money Environment Australia intends to allocate to the local government grants program. Mr Male said that he anticipated spending up to $8 million, but noted that an upper limit has not been set.
Mr Poole asked whether earlier suggestions to make all waste oil facilities uniform would be incorporated in the letter to be sent to councils. Mr Male said that Environment Australia would try and put together a set of principles or desired design features, but noted that Environment Australia does not want to be too restrictive.
There was general discussion about the proposed principles/desirable features. This discussion covered the purity of the waste oil; preventing water entering storage facilities; signage; location; training/staffing; monitoring; linkages to other facilities; and packaging.
Mr McGarry stated that he didn't support funding going to capital cities, as it is his view that the numerous problems in regional/rural Australia should give these regions priority.
Mr Borlace asked whether anyone is working on technology to re-refine base oil. Mr Male said that Environment Australia had received grant applications from companies wishing to re-refine base oil. These applications are being assessed.
Mr Williamson announced that he would be meeting the new Minister on behalf of Collex. He asked whether OSAC members wanted him to mention anything on their behalf.
Item 7: "Missing Oil" Consultancy - Environment Australia (Bruce Male)
Mr Male reported:
- The consultant, Meinhardt (NSW) Pty Ltd, is finalising the "Missing Oil" Report and expect to deliver it to Environment Australia by mid December.
- The consultant has advised Environment Australia that it has had trouble collecting information, as some important stakeholders were reluctant to co-operate.
- Consequently, the report is unlikely to yield much more information than was already available. However, it will confirm some previous estimates and does explore data weaknesses.
- The Commonwealth is not inclined to spend further money on this type of research if stakeholders are not prepared to contribute.
- PPK Environment and Infrastructure has won a Transitional Assistance grant to prepare regional implementation plans for the management of waste oil in South Australia. This work includes a 'bottom up' approach to determining sources of 'missing oil' in SA.
Mr McPherson mentioned that plastic do-it-yourself containers absorb oil during storage and that this could account for some of the missing oil.
Item 8: Tradeable Certificates - Environment Australia (Bruce Male)
Mr Male reported that the consultancy on Tradeable Certificates has been completed and Environment Australia is preparing a brief for the Minister to consider. Mr Male noted that he was not able to discuss the contents of the report prior to the Minister's consideration but committed to provide the report to OSAC members as soon as possible.
Item 9: The Packaging Covenant - Environment Australia (Bruce Male)
Mr Male reported:
- The National Packaging Covenant is a voluntary/self-regulatory agreement between industry and all spheres of government. It has over 400 signatories representing thousands of brand names.
- Signatories are required to develop and submit an Action Plan.
- The National Packaging Covenant is backed by a National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM). The NEPM is legislated in each jurisdiction and requires brand owners who are not Covenant signatories to take back and reutilise a percentage of their packaging.
- The Australian Institute of Petroleum, BP Australia Ltd and The Shell Company of Australia Ltd are signatories.
Mr McPherson said that the AIP has almost finished drafting its Action Plan. It schedules a trial in the first year and, if successful, will see the establishment of a collection and recycling scheme handling approx 3000 tonnes of plastic by the end of the third year.
OSAC noted the report.
Item 10: Testing Of Base Oils - Environment Australia (Bruce Male)
Mr Male reported:
- The Commonwealth deliberately set very high standards for re-refined oil because it cannot afford to pay subsidies, in the form of benefits for products that are toxic, hazardous or carcinogenic.
- The standards were not based on virgin lubricants but on health, safefty and environment protection principles.
- Environment Australia has decided to commission a study to find out more about the content of base oils and finished lubricants produced form crude oil. There have been suggestions from some industry quarters that such virgin lubricants would not pass the high standards set in the PSO Regulations.
- Environment Australia has organised a blind testing regime with the co-operation of the major oil companies.
- Originally, the modified AIMS test was thought not to be available from laboratory facilities in Australia. However, it is now clear from background work conducted as part of this study that this test is available from some laboratories. Others may also perform the test if the demand is there.
Mr O'Connor mentioned the Queensland regulations and the risk of PCBs contaminating waste oil. Mr Male said that PCB contaminated oil is classed as a hazardous or toxic waste and must be managed and disposed of under appropriate State and Territory legislation. Mr Kirwan stated that his operation has strict testing in place to make sure PCBs etc are not present before the waste oil gets put through his system.
- Mr Colmer foreshadowed an item for the next meeting. The ATO are reviewing the tax legislation and asked OSAC members to raise issues at the next meeting.
3c/litre benefit category
- Mr Williamson asked whether there is a case to make the 3c/litre-benefit category higher in regional areas.
- Mr Male referred to the Act and said he didn't think it precluded any changes but recommended OSAC seek legal advice.
- Mr Hart requested information concerning the empirical impacts of this proposal be provided to OSAC at the next meeting. Mr Male noted that this would be difficult as information about volumes would be required.
- Mr McGarry stated that there is a lot of waste oil in storage in the Northern Territory, because the distances between collection points make collection difficult. He added that when the limekiln is converted to gas there will be a lot more waste oil without an end use.
- Mr Wren said that one of the problems with remote areas was that there was no industry in the area to use waste oil.
- Mr Colmer noted that OSAC doesn't have a vision of where it is headed. OSAC needs to work this out before it can respond to the issues set out above.
- Mr Williamson responded by saying that it was Council's role to not go into too much detail but to provide broad advice, with a focus on better environmental outcomes.
- Mr McGarry suggested OSAC prepare a Mission Statement.
- OSAC agreed that 'where OSAC is headed' be an agenda item at the next meeting.
Australian Environmental Labelling Association
- Mr Male announced that the Australian Environmental Labelling Association had sent an email to him and that they may try to contact OSAC members as well. He wished to let everyone know that the Association is not associated in any way to Environment Australia. Mr Forbes reiterated that the Association had nothing to do with the Commonwealth.
- David Braham announced that he had compact discs to give members, which had a Microsoft presentation on the waste oil industry.
Item 12: Next Meeting
Mr Williamson stated that all OSAC appointments expire on 16 February 2002. He suggested that the next meeting be held in Canberra at Parliament House during sitting time, following the reappointment of members.
Summary of Follow-Up Activities
- Continue informing OSAC of progress with Local Government Grants Program and the Second Round Expression of Interest.
- Environment Australia to assess the environmental claims made by Fuchs.
- Consider any issues with the legislation
Agenda items for next meeting
- Consider Environment Australia's assessment of the Fuchs proposal.
- The Australian Taxation Office's review of legislation.
- Identify where OSAC is headed.