Recycling your oil

Cars, trucks, farm machines and boats all need regular lubricating oil changes.

Do you remember to recycle your used oil after an oil change?

Around 500 million litres of lubricating oil is sold in Australia each year. While some engines, such as two-stroke lawn mower engines burn oil completely, others like motor vehicle engines and machinery produce large volumes of used oil that can be reclaimed and reused. Industry and the community generate at least 250 million litres of used oil in Australia each year.

Disposing of used oil the wrong way has the potential to pollute land, water and infrastructure, so we need to recover and recycle as much of it as possible. Consider that it takes only one litre of oil to contaminate one million litres of water and a single automotive oil change produces 4 to 5 litres of used oil.

Used oil, or 'sump oil' as it is sometimes called, should not be thrown away.

Although it gets dirty, used oil can still be cleaned and re-used. In fact, recycled used oil can be used as an industrial burner fuel, hydraulic oil, incorporated into other products or re-refined back into new lubricating oil.

Australians are becoming better at recycling used oil. About 269 million litres of used oil was collected and recycled in 2008-09. Used oil disposed of inappropriately, dumped in landfill or stored on farms and in garages can cause harm to the environment, so it is important that we recycle as much of it as possible.

Used oil facilities

If you only produce a small amount of used oil from vehicles or farm machinery, you can take it to your local used oil facility run by your local council or shire. Usually the facility will be located at the landfill, waste transfer station or works depot.

Some used oil facilities will also take your oil filters, oily rags, and plastic oil containers. Check this out when you next recycle your oil.

Used oil collectors

Some industries including service stations produce more used oil than a local facility is able to take. Instead, used oil collectors will visit and remove the used oil (this may be free because used oil is valuable).