by Bubele Nyiba, CEO, the ROSE Foundation
The 2022 World Environment Day global campaign, “#OnlyOneEarth”, is calling for transformative changes to policies and choices to enable cleaner, greener, and sustainable living in harmony with nature. Waste management of a wide range of products is a key component in achieving the goal of a healthy environment. In South Africa, the government is implementing stringent waste management legislation across various sectors, utilising Section 18 of the National Waste Management Act, a section that deals with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
In 2020, the government published Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations and Notices for the producers in the in electric and electronics, lighting, packaging, and single-use plastics industries to implement EPR. Most recently, the government has also issued notices to implement EPR in the lubricants, pesticides, and battery industries.
The lubricants industry welcomes the introduction of legislation to enforce EPR. Our industry has been implementing EPR since 1994, when we took a proactive stance to mitigate the potential harmful effects of oil on the environment by establishing a voluntary extended producer responsibility scheme, through the establishment of the ROSE Foundation. The purpose of the organisation is, “to promote the common interests of the oil industry to prevent the pollution of the environment by used lubricants in South Africa.”
Used lubricating oil is classified as hazardous waste, as used oil and grease from vehicles and machinery contain three types of dangerous pollutants: polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals and lubrication additives. These hazardous pollutants are generated through the use of the oil as a lubricant in motor vehicles and in industrial operations. If used oil is irresponsibly disposed of into landfill, down drains or onto the ground, it can leach into wetlands, and rivers, where it can pollute the water and have serious environment effects on marine and fresh water organisms and human health.
The ROSE Foundation is strongly aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs), especially Goal 6, which is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all and Goal 7, which is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
With billions of people on the planet lacking access to safe drinking water and many living in water-stressed countries, it is more important than ever to make sustainable choices to address climate change and to preserve our environment. Keeping used oil out of our groundwater is a key step towards a healthy environment.
The ROSE Foundation has been successful in driving responsible recycling of used oil on behalf of the lubricants manufacturing and reselling industry. The organisation has overseen the recycling of over 1,5 billion litres of used oil since its inception and continues to grow its initiatives to educate the market and to increase the volumes of used oil recycled.
From large industries to individual backyard mechanics, generators of used oil have a legal duty to store and recycle used oil responsibly to protect the environment in South Africa. The disposal of used oil is strictly governed by environmental laws and its storage and disposal has to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act No. 59 of 2008.
Large used oil generators should store used oil safely for collection by a ROSE Foundation accredited oil collectors who will issue the generators with safe disposal certificates, as required by the Waste Act.
When used oil is recycled in South Africa, it is usually partially reprocessed to remove particulates and is sold as an industrial burner fuel. In some instances, it is being re-refined back to base oil, but this is a costly process to establish, and the demand for burner fuel is still dictating the economics of recycling.
Around the world, over 3 billion people rely on dirty fuels and animal waste for cooking and heating. Burner fuel from used oil is the second cheapest source of energy for industrial purposes, with coal being the cheapest. However, used oil as a burner fuel contributes to CO2 emissions into the environment, so the ROSE Foundation is advocating the use of scrubbers by industries that burn fuel, to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. Scrubbers are air pollution control devices that use liquid to remove particulate matter or gases from an industrial exhaust or flue gas stream. The use of scrubbers significantly reduces emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides, toxic stable organic chemicals, mercury and particulates.
The safe disposal of hazardous waste has become a critical issue, South Africa needs to manage in order to protect our environment. Responsible waste management is no longer a nice thing to do but a necessary thing to do.
How to recycle used oil
• Drain oil into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid, such as a reusable combination drain pan/storage container. If you generate a lot of used oil in your industry, the ROSE Foundation recommends using drums or a cubic-shaped 1000 litre mini tank which make maximum use of available space, hold more oil and to make things even easier, the collections require no handling of the containers. Sealed couplings are used to pump the contents straight into a tanker truck so there's no spillage or leakage.
• Empty oil containers and drums make effective makeshift storage vessels for used oil, however, do not use a container that previously held chemicals, such as cleaners, solvents, fuels, paint or bleach.
• Always clearly label the container “Used motor oil”
• Keep your containers in a place that can be accessed by a ROSE registered used oil collector and keep the surrounding area clear and clean. Ideally store them under cover and away from heat or sources of ignition.
• Keep oil change pans free of water and ensure your storage containers are tightly sealed and covered to protect them from rain water. Oil which is contaminated with water is far more difficult to recycle.
• Ensure that you do not mix used oil with other fluids such as antifreeze, transmission fluid, petrol, diesel, etc. Mixing them may make them non-recyclable as well as very hazardous and flammable.
• If you generate a large quantity of used oil in your business, you should arrange to have your oil collected by a ROSE Foundation registered Collector. This will ensure that you comply with the requirements of the Waste Act.
• If you only generate a small quantity of oil, store it safely and you can drop it off at selected Autozone stores. Otherwise, most reputable service centres have used oil storage facilities and will take your oil, as they have collectors who take it away for processing. You can also contact the ROSE Foundation for advice about how to dispose of your used lubricating oil. Larger motor workshops who have bulk storage facilities, are urged to accept used oil and related waste from private individuals. The workshops will be paid by collectors for the oil collected, so accepting oil from backyard mechanics is at no cost to them and it is the environmentally responsible thing to do.
About the ROSE Foundation
The ROSE Foundation (recycling oil saves the environment) is a national non-profit organization made up of the major lubricating oil producers and distributors in South Africa. It was established by the industry in 1994, in response to growing concern around the consumption and recycling of oil and petroleum products worldwide in relation to environmental concerns about environmental pollution.
ROSE promotes and encourages the environmentally responsible and legally compliant collection and recycling of used oils and related waste in South Africa, through education, compliance support, audits and incentives. Since its inception, ROSE has received great support from industry stakeholders and has championed the responsible collection of well over a billion litres of used oil in South Africa.
The recycling of used lubricant oil in South Africa is a well-established and thriving industry thanks largely to the efforts of the ROSE Foundation and the compliance of licensed collectors and processors across South Africa.
Together, they ensure that the collection, transportation, storage, refining, recycling, disposal and utilisation of used oil is managed in a sustainable, ethical, environmentally compliant and responsible manner.
To obtain more information about used oil recycling, the ROSE Foundation, accredited collectors, processors and drop-off points, contact the ROSE Foundation, Phone 021 448-7492, www.rosefoundation.org.za , #OnlyOneEarth