It is estimated that less than half of the approximately 500 million litres of lubricating oil sold in Australia each year is recycled.

In addition to this, between 60 million and 100 million litres of oil sold each year cannot be accounted for.

It isn’t clear what happens to this missing oil, however, it is likely to be: 

  • Sitting in home garages and sheds 
  • Retained in scrapped vehicles and equipment 
  • Lost due to leaks and spills 
  • Disposed of in household rubbish; or 
  • Illegally dumped 
Used oil is hazardous, toxic, and harmful to the environment and humans if irresponsibly discarded or handled.  It is also a valuable resource, which, even after it has been used in motor vehicles, can be recycled, and reused. 

Where does used oil come from? 

Motor vehicles are a major producer of used oil with the average passenger car producing four to five litres each 5,000 to 10,000 km they travel. While oil doesn’t wear out, it does become dirty, with the additive packages that make oils perform their various tasks eventually being used up. The oil is then unable to perform its intended function. 

Where do I dispose of waste oil?

Waste oil collection facilities are usually located in rubbish tips or waste transfer stations.  For the location of your nearest facility contact your local authority.

What happens to the oil that is collected?

Used oil is cleaned and distilled to produce re-refined base oil that is suitable for use in a range of products, such as lubricating oil, hydraulic or transformer oil. It can also be used as an industrial burner fuel. 

Need more information?

For more information about oil recycling, the stewardship program or related issues visit Environment Australia at


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