What to do with used motor oil
Drain your sump and suddenly you’ve got a few litres of black, sticky liquid you want to get rid of. The ‘black gold’ now seems worthless. But what you do next with this oil could have serious repercussions if you throw it away, or pour it down the drain or on your garden.
In landfill, used oil will slowly leach into surrounding land, underground water and infrastructure. In the sewerage, its effects will be even more immediate and catastrophic. It only takes one litre of oil to contaminate 1,000,000 litres of water (that’s about half the water in an Olympic swimming pool). In fact, the large accidental oil spills we all dread only account for about 10 – 15% of all the oil that enters our oceans every year. Oil-polluted stormwater and sewage is the biggest single source, causing extensive, immediate and long-term damage to coastal and marine habitats and ecosystems, seabirds, mammals, fisheries and people. It’s also, by the way, a terrible waste of resources.
The good news, though, is that there are now lots of places where you can take oil, no matter whether it’s freshly drained from a vehicle or equipment, or it’s been sitting around the shed for ages. And when you bring it in, it can actually be recycled. So you’re not only avoiding an environmental problem, you’re giving this oil a second life. (Seeing it took thousands of centuries for oil to form in the first place, surely that’s the least we can do.)
What’s even better than recycling used oil?
It’s reducing the amount of oil that needs to be recycled. For a start, make sure you only buy the quantity of motor oil recommended by the manufacturer and store any left over until you need a top-up or your next oil change. If you’ve still got surplus, you might even offer it to community groups or the neighbours.
How to dispose of used oil safely
Bring your oil in a clean, plastic container with a lid. The original container is perfect. Please avoid using paint cans or other metal containers.
What happens to the oil you bring in?
Although oil gets dirty when it’s used, it can still be cleaned and reused. Recycled oil fuels industrial burners, is incorporated into other products, comes back as hydraulic oil or is re-refined as lubricating oil.
What about the oil containers?
There are approximately 50 sites in South Australia that also collect the used oil containers for recycling into new oil containers and other plastic products. For a list of participating waste oil container collection facilities and more information about this program click here.
What not to do with used oil
Do not put used oil in a recycling bin. This causes a lot of problems at recycling centres, often resulting in damage to equipment, and valuable resources being sent to landfill. This article is from The Port Lincoln Times, 17 March 2010:
OVER two tonnes of recyclable material had to be dumped at Port Lincoln’s landfill after it was contaminated by sump oil last week. Sump oil had been placed in a residential recycling bin emptied into the Port Lincoln City Council truck during the Wednesday, March 10 recycling collection. “While the contractors Veolia Environmental Services manually remove any obvious wrong items, not everything can be removed,” the council’s special projects manager Janet Grocke. “Unfortunately the sump oil went through the baling machine, and contaminated three bales or over two tonnes of recyclable material, which had to go to landfill. “Kitty litter was used on the floor and the baling machine to soak up the oil that leaked from the baler and the bales as they were pushed out and moved outside.”
Mrs Grocke said while the council was pleased recycling had continued to increase since the new wheelie bin collection service was introduced last year, the public had to respect recycling rules. She said the recycling service was for household recyclable materials from the kitchen, laundry and bathroom and was primarily for glass bottles and jars, cans, rigid plastic and foil products, paper, cartons and cardboard, but not soft plastic or plastic bags. “The wrong materials can break the baler at the Port Lincoln Resource Recovery Centre and cause damage to the mechanical sorters when the baled materials are sent to Adelaide.”
The service does not take any items resembling electrical goods, hardware, green waste or food scraps. “Shredded paper also jams up the mechanical sorters and should be put into a separate container such as a bag or box and taken to the recovery centre.”
SUMP OIL: Veolia Environmental Services supervisor Steve Clampit shows the sump oil leaking out the bottom of a large bail of recyclable materials that had to be thrown out last week due to the contamination from a residential recycling bin.
Reproduced courtesy Port Lincoln Times, original article by Natasha Ewendt