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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

11 June 2002

National Oil Advisory Council Meeting in Shepparton

Have you ever wondered what to do with used oil, or the bottles or drums that it comes in?

500 million litres of oil is sold in Australia each year with much of it disappearing without a trace, demonstrating that we need to make a greater effort to try and recycle more of it, according to Parliamentary Secretary and Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone.

Dr Stone was addressing the fifth meeting of the Oil Stewardship Advisory Council, held for the first time outside a Capital City, in Shepparton today.

The 16-member Council, drawn from oil producing and recycling industries, Commonwealth, State and local government and consumers, provides expert advice to the Minister for the Environment, Dr David Kemp on the collection, uptake and recycling of waste oil.

"Recent figures suggest that more than 100 million litres of waste oil goes missing each year, which can be harmful to humans and the environment. It takes only one litre of oil to contaminate a million litres of drinking water," Dr Stone said.

The Howard Government has allocated $60 million to the Product Stewardship arrangements for waste oil, which began in January 2001. The new body was established to encourage better management of waste oil.

"In years gone by used oil was tipped down drains, used by people to settle dust, to paint fence posts, dumped at the tip or was simply left in the back shed at risk of catching on fire", Dr Stone said.

"Producers and users share a responsibility to 'do the right thing' and use oil carefully, from production to distribution, right through to disposal".

"We have already funded a variety of projects as part of the Product Stewardship arrangements. These include the development of a low cost oil-water separator, the development of a mobile recycling plant for PCB contaminated transformer oil and an examination of the potential end-uses for plastic do-it-yourself oil containers," Dr Stone said.

Dr Stone invited OSAC to host today's meeting in Shepparton and said that local Campaspe Shire Councilor Cathie Halliday was making an important contribution to the group's work. Councils from the region are also involved, finding out more about the grants available to help them better promote waste oil management in the community.

"This meeting in Shepparton is all about taking the issue of waste oil, and how to dispose of it adequately outside of Canberra to rural and regional areas. Local farmers, transport operators and small business have long wanted to do the right thing when disposing waste oil but have lacked the facilities to do so", Dr Stone said.

"This Government is now providing the information and funding to make sure that we have infrastructure in place to make it easier to be 'clean and green' in the regions".

Simon Frost 0419 495 468

Product Stewardship Arrangements for Waste Oil

More than 500 million litres of lubricating oil is sold each year in Australia, over half of which is collected and recycled after use. Still, a large percentage of this used oil remains unaccounted for, and it could be hurting our environment.

Waste oil contains hazardous materials that are toxic and carcinogenic, and is harmful to the environment when irresponsibly discarded. These materials include benzene, toluene, dioxins, and other light hydrocarbons.

To address these environmental concerns, the Commonwealth Government introduced new Product Stewardship Arrangements for Waste Oil that began in 2001.

The Arrangements aim to improve the handling of waste oil and to increase the uptake of recycling oil as a solution to the issue of missing oil and the possible effects this oil has on human and environmental health.

How do the Arrangements work?

The objectives of the Arrangements are to:

This will be done through a levy-benefit system. The system will use revenue, collected by a levy on certain oil products, to fund benefit payments to oil recyclers who are recycling oil in environmentally appropriate ways. In addition to the levy-benefit system, the Commonwealth Government has provided $60 million as transitional assistance over four years to target the key barriers to the collection and recycling of waste oil.

Environment Australia is responsible for monitoring and reviewing the Arrangements, and for administering and managing the transitional assistance funds. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Customs Service collect the levy on domestic and imported oil products.

Members of the Oil Stewardship Advisory Council

Commonwealth of Australia