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Disposing of Oil at CopperRock Recycling Centre

Around 500 million litres of lubricating oil is sold in Australia each year. That is, oil that’s used in engines, and while some engines (such as two-stroke lawnmower engines) burn oil completely, others like motor vehicle engines and machinery produce large volumes of used oil that can be reclaimed and reused. You can bring this used oil into CopperRock to recycle for a small fee.

Another type of oil that needs to be disposed of correctly is Cooking Oil. Unfortunately, we cannot accept cooking oil for recycling at CopperRock. However, there are many local companies that can collect your cooking oil waste – such as Your Oil Man, and Cookers.

Disposing of used oil the wrong way has the potential to pollute land, water and infrastructure. 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. There are at least 250 million litres of used oil generated in Australia each year.

But it’s not just oil waste that’s a landfill hazard, it’s also the packaging that oil comes in – particularly lubricating oils due to residual oil contamination. Hence, why we cannot accept your empty oil container at Copper Rock. Every year there are approximately 3,050 tonnes of contaminated small volume motor vehicle oil containers sent to landfill. This number is expected to be higher when considering the full range of petroleum-based oil lubricants.

To tackle this issue, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), under the Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands Plastics Pact (ANZPAC), has received funding to develop a national product stewardship scheme for the recovery and reprocessing of used oil containers.

APCO has completed stage one of the project which includes understanding the current landscape for oil containers and developing preliminary scheme design options. They’re working to have the scheme design finalised and an implementation plan by March 2023.

The high-level scope of the project includes investigation of:

  • The collection and recycling of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) motor oil containers sold in Australia up to 20 litres in capacity.
  • Labelling and public education.
  • The potential for packaging re-use models.
  • End-markets and use of recycled content.

Once the project is implemented a whole supply chain approach will be adopted to ensure industry engagement in the design of an efficient and effective scheme which aims to:

  • Increase the recovery of oil containers up to 20 litres.
  • Reduce the impact of oil bottles on the environment and human health.
  • Investigate innovative advanced recycling technology and alternative reuse models for oil bottles.
  • Establish recovery targets in line with the ANZPAC Plastics Pact.

To learn more about the project or stay up to date on its progress visit the ANZPAC website under ‘delivering product stewardship’.