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Used Oil in Australia

Prepared by Meinhardt Infrastructure & Environment Group
Environment Australia
January 2002

Conclusions & Recommendations

This report has quantified the amount of oil in Australia (sold, collected and unaccounted for used oil) and investigated and assessed the major issues and reasons surrounding the unaccounted for oil. This report is intended to assist in targeting government expenditure under the Transitional Assistance funding program.

Quantification of these volumes was difficult due to a lack of or conflicting data presented by the varying data sources. The Australian lubricants market volume had data available from ABARE, AIP, ATO and DISR. The quality and detail of data provided by DISR was superior to other data sources. The DISR data was thus accepted with reservations.

The total amount of used oil generated by the Australian market was calculated based on used oil generation factors for specific industry segments. No direct studies on Australian generation factors were identified and thus modified international factors were utilised to determine the total amount of used oil generated in Australia.

The quantity of waste oil collected in Australia was based on advice received from collectors and reprocessors. Additional volumes were added for companies that did not provide information and for collection for direct reuse.

The result of the above investigations estimated that between 103 and 153 megalitres of used oil was unaccounted for.

Following analysis of all available data, this project has determined the volume of the lubricants market and the amount of used oil generated, collected and potentially recoverable as detailed in Figure 8.1.

Figure 8.1 Used Oil Pathway

Used Oil Pathway diagram

This report has investigated and assessed the major issues and reasons surrounding the unaccounted for oil. It has concluded that the unaccounted for used oil has a variety of sources including DIY activities and stockpiles. Based on the limited information currently available, the quantity associated with these processes cannot be assessed. It has, however, been broadly estimated that 20% of the unaccounted for oil is unrecoverable for a number of reasons.

A variety of issues were identified relating to the unaccounted for volume of used oil. These included data reliability, collection system infrastructure, industry, regulatory, and educational issues. As a result of the issues identified, the following recommendations are made.

RECOMMENDATION #1: Environment Australia investigate greater coordination between the reporting organisations (viz. ABARE, AIP, ATO and DISR) in order to more closely align reporting categories.

RECOMMENDATION #2: Environment Australia consider initiating investigations into the consumption of oil in key processes in Australia with a view to establishing benchmarks for generation of used oil.

RECOMMENDATION #3: Environment Australia investigate the provision and coordination of data from all Australian States and Territories on the amount of used oil collected in ChemCollect, household hazardous waste collections and other State / Territory programs.

RECOMMENDATION #4: Environment Australia investigate research into retained / recovered used oil from end-of-life vehicles.

RECOMMENDATION #5: Environment Australia consider the feasibility of additional research, surveys and reporting requirements to determine the amount and sources of oil currently unaccounted for.

RECOMMENDATION #6: Environment Australia encourage the establishment of better managed used oil collection infrastructure in regional areas. This may be achieved through infrastructure funding assistance.

RECOMMENDATION #7: Environment Australia encourage Local Government to provide supervision at waste disposal facilities to assist in correct disposal of used oil and used oil containers.

RECOMMENDATION #8: Environment Australia encourage the oil recycling industry to investigate the feasibility of establishment of temporary collection facilities for large construction, mining, etc. projects in remote areas.

RECOMMENDATION #9: Environment Australia encourage relevant statutory authorities to prioritise enforcement of regulations covering licensed collection and disposal of used oil.

RECOMMENDATION #10: Environment Australia consider encouraging prioritisation of used oil as an environmental management issue at State / Territory level.

RECOMMENDATION #11: Environment Australia support programs aimed at raising awareness of used oil collection and recycling at Commonwealth, State / Territory and Local Government level.