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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Used Oil in Australia

Prepared by Meinhardt Infrastructure & Environment Group
Environment Australia
January 2002


On 1st January, 2001 waste oil product stewardship arrangements approved by the Commonwealth Government commenced operation. The product stewardship program links oil companies, Commonwealth and State Governments in ensuring the environmentally sustainable management and re-refining of waste oil and its re-use.

The program allows for the oil companies to progressively assume a greater share of the costs involved in the management of waste oil. The product stewardship arrangements consist of a per-litre levy on oil products which are utilised to fund volume-based incentive payments for operations involved in waste oil recycling or re-use. The incentive payments are intended to encourage increased collection and recycling of waste oil, reducing the potential for environmental damage from inappropriate disposal of waste oil.

The product stewardship arrangements incorporate a Commonwealth Government funding program intended to provide transitional assistance to industry. The transitional assistance program aims to:

The objective of this project is to more accurately quantify the amount of oil in Australia (sold, collected and unaccounted for waste oil) and to investigate and assess the major issues and reasons surrounding the unaccounted for oil. This is intended to assist in targeting government expenditure under the Transitional Assistance funding program.

This report details the outcomes of research and consultation undertaken to investigate and analyse:

To estimate the unaccounted for used oil in Australia, the size of the Australian lubricants markets was determined. The used oil generated by the Australian market was then assessed. An estimate of the quantity of used oil currently collected was made and thus the amount of unaccounted for used oil determined. This approach can be represented by the following formulae:

Total Lubricants Market - Oil Consumed During Use = Used Oil Generated


Used Oil Generated - Used Oil Collected for Recycling = Unaccounted for Used Oil (potentially recoverable & not recoverable)

As mentioned above, determination of these volumes includes a number of estimates, some of which are reliant on assumptions made about the available data. Where assumptions are made, the nature of such assumptions has been detailed.

It should be noted that the types of oil addressed in this project are limited to petroleum-based oils of certain categories (refer Section 2.1); it does not include vegetable oils, food oils or cooking oils.

Stakeholders consulted during this project are detailed in Appendix A.