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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

Making a difference - recycling used motor oil

Used engine oil can be more conveniently recycled 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 being inappropriately disposed in Australia.

A recent survey commissioned by the Australian Government found that one in three households have motorists who change their own vehicle oil, and that nearly half of those people inappropriately dispose, store or reuse the oil.

"Quite simply, many people aren't aware of the ramifications. As oil circulates through your engine, it picks up hazardous, toxic and carcinogenic contaminants. Just one litre of used oil can contaminate one million litres of water," Dr Kemp said.

"Heavy metal in used oil can bio-accumulate in plants and wildlife, poisoning the food chain and posing a risk to human health.

"The good news is used oil can be recycled safely and productively. The properties that make oil a valuable lubricant also make it ideal for recycling."

The Product Stewardship for Oil Program 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.

"Oil never wears out; it just becomes dirty and therefore, it can be reprocessed and re-refined. Used oil extracted by "do-it-yourselfers" is critical to Australia's used oil recycling system," Dr Kemp said.

To locate your nearest used oil collection facility, visit or call 1800 982 006.

Commonwealth of Australia