According to the Recycling Oil Saves the Environment (ROSE) Foundation, used oil contains harmful compounds and carcinogens that can easily contaminate the environment, especially if thrown down drains, into landfills, or onto the ground where it leaches into the water table.
“Because of its harmful properties, used oil is classified as a hazardous waste and is strictly governed by environmental laws – with its storage and disposal needing to meet the requirements of the Waste Act,” says Bubele Nyiba, the CEO of the ROSE Foundation.
She explains that, due to a lack of education, many people who generate used oil may dispose of it improperly and illegally.
“It is estimated that South Africa generates an average of 120-million litres of used lubricant oil in a year. This is a large amount of used oil that, if not collected and recycled responsibly, could make its way into our environment,” Nyiba says.
The ROSE Foundation offers some practical tips on storing used oil:
• Drain oil into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid, but do not use a container that previously held chemicals.
• Keep these containers accessible by NORA-SA used-oil collectors and store them under cover and away from heat or sources of ignition.
• Keep oil-change pans tightly sealed and covered to protect them from rain water. Oil that is contaminated with water is far more difficult to recycle.
• Do not mix used oil with other automotive fluids.
• A bund wall around bulk used-oil storage tanks will contain a spill or leak. In this event contact your used-oil collector.
Used oil can be dropped off at approved municipal garden refuse sites. Otherwise, most reputable service centres have used-oil storage facilities and will take used oil, as they are paid according to volume by the collectors who take it away for processing.
Nyiba says that the safe disposal of hazardous waste has become a critical environmental issue in South Africa. “The legislation in place in South Africa means that responsible waste management is no longer a nice thing to do, but a necessary thing to do.”