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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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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.

Caltex Refinery: Lytton, QLD
Cleaner Production - Solid Waste Management

This case study is no longer current with respect to the Company's business activities and operations and was not updated in the review of 2001, but is retained for informational, educational and historical purposes

The Caltex Refinery in Lytton, Brisbane has implemented substantial changes in its solid waste management system since commissioning of the refinery in 1965. A number of new initiatives have been introduced within the solid waste management program and the integrated environmental management system. These initiatives were based on the cleaner production elements and in particular "at source" wastes reduction and recycling of waste products. This program resulted in a considerable reduction of waste generation and substantial savings in waste handling and disposal costs.


Construction and commissioning of Ampol Refinery ( now Caltex Refinery ) was completed in 1965. It is an integrated refinery with two crude processing units, fluid catalytic cracking, HF alkylation, polymerisation and catalytic reforming. The refinery has an advanced waste water treatment system which includes segregated oily, contaminated water and storm water systems, and secondary biological treatment plant.

The Excisting Process

Solid waste management in the refinery's early days was comparable with the petroleum industry standards at the time. However, these standards and the refinery waste management practices along with them, have undergone substantial changes over the last three decades. These changes occurred due to a variety of reasons namely company policies, economic conditions, regulatory and licensing requirements, health, safety and changing public attitudes. This case study aims to present a detailed description of improvements in the refinery's solid waste management over the last decade and some of the results achieved.

A number of solid wastes from various sources are generated in the refinery manufacturing process. The majority of these wastes are of a hazardous nature due to contamination with hydrocarbons and other contaminants. These wastes have been categorised and tested and, for most of them, Material Safety Data Sheets have been developed. Table 1 characterises major wastes generated at the present time.

Table 1. Solid Waste Inventory



FCC unit

Catalyst fines

Al2O3, SiO2

Alky unit

Lime sludge

CaF2, Ca(OH)2

Storage tanks

Oil contaminated solids

Oily water sewer

Oily sludge

Various sources

Contaminated soil

Process units



There is also a variety of uncontaminated, recyclable solid wastes which have a considerable impact on overall management and costs. Table 2 summarises these wastes.

Table 2: Inventory of Uncontaminated Recyclable General Wastes.



Clean drums


Scrap metal


Waste paper




Aluminium cans


Green waste


Cleaner Production Initiatives

Earlier Upgrades

Before the late 80's solid waste management involved "end of pipe" solutions ie. primary treatment, stockpiling on site and off site disposal to local authority disposal site.

With changes of economic conditions, higher environment and industry standards, these practices no longer met the company environmental requirements, and had also become very expensive. A number of initiatives were undertaken to improve the waste management in the early 90's. These initiatives included some elements of emerging cleaner production techniques, putting the refinery ahead of other refineries in Australia:

Progressive Improvements

In recent years the rate of change has accelerated, pushed by the company's changing policies and a drive to implement best practice standards. This was ahead of changes in the regulatory requirements, anticipated closure of the local authority disposal site and rapidly increasing costs of waste disposal.

The new situation required a more systematic approach. A site environmental audit was conducted by an external contractor and resulted in a number of recommendations for improvement. These improvements included review of solid wastes management and development of a waste management program. Both these programs became a part of a wider environment upgrade program under the site's integrated environmental management system developed in 1994.

The basis for the waste management program was the introduction of cleaner production elements to the manufacturing process. These elements included:

Development and implementation of the waste management program resulted in a number of process related projects aiming to reduce/minimise waste generation. These projects are being implemented now and it has become clear that considerable reduction in waste generation is being achieved. A full assessment of the reduction is to be done when more data becomes available. The projects listed below are the examples of process related improvements.


Recycling initiatives

These initiatives resulted from an intensive research of external industrial technologies capable of reuse of the solid material. This research was conducted by refinery personnel and external contractors resulting in a number of identified alternatives. Most of the recommended options have been implemented:

Advantages of the Process

The average annual rates of reduction in solids wastes over the last decade are shown below.


Reduction %

FCC catalyst
Alky spent lime
Tank sludge
up to 80
up to 80

Disposal of other sludges




General refuse


These results show considerable reduction in generation and disposal of solid wastes.


A comprehensive waste management system involving a high degree of waste minimisation will not be effective without training of employees and implementation of procedures. The procedures for on-site and off-site waste disposal including requirements for an internal and external waste tracking system was introduced. Training on these procedures was provided to all employees at the early stage of the system's implementation. Further training on the elements of the system is included in a regular environmental updates provided to employees and contractors.


Mr Anton Drobowiecki
Environmental Specialist
Caltex Australia Ltd
Ph: (07) 3362 7352

Date of implementation: 1996
Case Study Prepared: October 1998 
Last reviewed: June 2001