Oil is a valuable resource that can be harmful to the environment when disposed of incorrectly. Although it gets dirty, used oil can be collected, cleaned and re-used again and again.
At least 250 million litres of motor oil is used in Australia each year. Used oil is hazardous because it picks up a variety of contaminants when used in engines and transmissions including lead, dioxins and benzene. When disposed of incorrectly it can harm the land, waterways, underground reservoirs and the marine environment. It takes only one litre of oil to contaminate one million litres of water. Oil stored in a shed or garage is also a potential fire hazard. Used oil can be cleaned of contaminants and be recycled again and again which reduces the demand on natural resources and can also reduces costs as recycled oil is generally cheaper to buy than new.
Australia has a government-administered Product Stewardship for Oil Program, which is partly funded by a a levy on new oil.
Numerous facilities across the countries can recycle used motor oil. Small amounts of used oil from vehicles or machinery can be taken to a local used oil facility run by your local council. For larger quantities, commercial operators offer collection services from site. Some oil facilities will also take used oil filters, oily rags and plastic oil containers.
Before oil can be recycled it is pre-treated to remove any water in the oil. Next the oil is filtered to remove any solids. Further processing may be necessary to remove other impurities such as inorganic materials and additives. Distillation is used to re-refine the oil.
Re-refined used oil, blended with additives, produces oil suitable for re-use in the same situations as a virgin oil product and is tested to strict health and safety standards.
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