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Extras - Oil Recycling


Elsewhere I’ve written about the importance of oil changes. Now here’s a thought-provoking article about oil recycling which I’ve reproduced from Brisbane’s Courier Mail in the interests of the environment:

Where Does All The Oil Go?

As a new-age environment-conscious 4WD owner, did you ever wonder where all the engine oil sold at supermarkets and auto outlets ends up?

Much of it no doubt is bought by owners of older vehicles looking to save a quid, and a fair bit ends up on the road or in the atmosphere.

Unfortunately a lot of home servicing oil ends up in the sea, even though the unthinking handyman may dispose of it many kilometres from that beleaguered resource. Incredibly, some people still pour old sump oil on fence posts or on house stumps or use it to kill weeds on garden paths. Sooner or later some of it will seep into groundwater and make its way to the sea, where it depletes the oxygen supply for fish and other aquatic life.

Off-roaders generally are much more environment-conscious than we were even 10 years ago. Yet the practice of spraying a vehicle underneath with sump oil to protect it is still fairly common. This isn’t as bad as pouring the oil onto the land but it surely isn’t far behind.

The latest Motor Trader magazine has some chilling figures on oil recycling which are worth repeating. It’s estimated that Australians use 550 million litres of lubricating oil a year in their vehicles and that less than one quarter of this is recycled. (work it out yourself: that’s more than 400 million missing litres of oil a year). The used oil from a single engine can ruin 4.5 million litres of fresh water - a year’s supply for 50 people. (If you’ve still got the calculator out, and starting with an average 5-litre sump, Australians alone are losing enough oil to contaminate pure water for 4000 million people a year or two-thirds of the entire world population).

Phew! What do you do with your used sump oil? More importantly, what can you do? Michele Sheumack of the Oil Recyclers Association of Australia says it should be stored in the four or five-litre plastic bottle it came in and taken to the council transfer station collection bins. Most councils with the old landfill style of tip have a collection point for used oil and other contaminants and if they haven’t, chew someone’s ear until they provide one.

Michele says some service groups like Lions sometimes have collection points which are serviced by members of the association and some garages are willing to collect sump oil from customers. If you don’t have a used oil container, use something clean and sealable and mark it "used oil for recycling". Don’t mix old oil with contaminants like kerosene because they interfere with recycling and cost a lot to remove.

If you’re not sure where to take the oil, call the state environment department, local council, or the Oil Recyclers Association of Australia (07 3204 0822). Apart from recycling used oil, it helps not to waste it in the first place. Use a drip tray in your garage and check your vehicle for oil leaks. Change your oil only when necessary and use long-life oils.

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