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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

 

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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

17 May 2004

Do the right thing: responsibly dispose of used motor oil


Farmers and those living in rural areas can more conveniently recycle their used engine oil with the establishment of hundreds of additional collection facilities around the country, said Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp.

Through the Product Stewardship for Oil Program, the Australian Government has provided $10 million in funding to develop an extensive infrastructure of collection sites throughout both metropolitan and regional areas. Over 400 new sites have already been opened, with another 300 scheduled to open by the end of 2004.

"Over 500 million litres of virgin lubricating oil are sold annually in Australia, but recent figures suggest that up to 100 million litres of the used product go "missing" each year," Dr Kemp said.

Put into perspective, the catastrophic Exxon Valdez spill - one of the greatest environmental tragedies in history - was relatively small compared to the amount of used oil inappropriately dumped, including being poured in ditches and on farm fields, used for general equipment maintenance, or left lying around in sheds.

"Used oil can seep into the ground water and run off into surface waters. In fact, more than half of the used oil applied to roads for dust suppression, for example, enters the environment through runoff," Dr Kemp said.

"One litre of oil can contaminate up to one million litres of water, and the heavy metal in used oil can bio-accumulate in plants and wildlife, poisoning the food chain and posing a risk to human health."

The i provides incentives to increase used oil recycling. As part of the Australian Government's commitment to managing used oil, a levy-benefit system has been introduced where a levy collected on new oil funds benefit payments to used oil recyclers.

Complementing the benefit payments is transitional assistance funding, where $34.5 million over seven years is being provided to encourage environmentally sustainable management and re-refining of used oil.

"Automotive and machinery oils can be recycled safely and productively. The properties that make oil a valuable lubricant also make it ideal for recycling. Oil never wears out; it just becomes dirty and therefore, it can be reprocessed and re-refined," Dr Kemp said.

In addition to used oil collection facilities, there are a number of collection companies operating around the country which will pick up used oil from rural areas. For further information visit www.oilrecycling.gov.au or call 1800 982 006.

Commonwealth of Australia