Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Used Oil Under Spotlight

What to do with 30 million litres of used oil?

That is the situation facing New Zealand every year – and it’s a question the Environment Minister, Marian Hobbs, wants answered. She is releasing a discussion paper today focusing on reusing, handling and disposing of our vast quantity of used oil.

“Used oil is the single largest non-watery liquid waste stream in New Zealand. Some 30 million litres are generated annually,” Marian Hobbs said. “During use, oil becomes contaminated with a number of substances that are hazardous to human health and the environment. Therefore, it needs careful management to ensure that human health and the environment are safeguarded.”

The discussion paper describes and proposes solutions for issues such as the effectiveness of national recovery networks, safety and handling and the inappropriateness of using it for low temperature burning and spraying on roads.

The Minister initiated a series of meetings with companies that sell oil at wholesale level. The major oil companies have agreed to work on a better recovery network, providing all sellers of oil are involved.

“This is only fair,” Marian Hobbs said. “We will get a better result if companies feel that they are operating on a level playing field. The Government will regulate if necessary to ensure we get a comprehensive national oil recovery programme, but I would prefer to see industry involved in developing a solution which it can manage.”

The issues raised will be of particular interest to regional and local authorities producing plans under the Resource Management Act, people working in industries that deal with oil and used oil, and to people and groups concerned about the environmental effects of used oil.

Used oil guidelines
The Occupational Safety and Health Service and the Ministry for the Environment are also working towards better management of used oil. They are releasing guidelines on safe, practical ways to manage used oil.

The guidelines were written to address uncertainties about the Dangerous Goods Act 1974 and its application to the management and handling of used oil.

In provisions that become effective from 1 April 2001, garages and workshops storing used oil will need to demonstrate to their local dangerous goods inspector that it is being stored safely. If they can’t do that they will be required to meet the more expensive and complex requirements which apply to flammable liquids under the Dangerous Goods Act.

The guidelines also spell out the various responsibilities of retailers of lubricating oil, home mechanics and others who handle used oil. The aim of the guidelines is to provide useful advice and information to everyone handling used oil, and to people such as council staff and garage staff who might be asked for advice.

The document is intended to sit alongside such key legislation as the Dangerous Goods Act 1974, the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and the Resource Management Act 1991. The guidelines do not replace or supersede any legal requirements and are not intended for use as a technical specification.

“These practical guidelines reflect the collective experience and expertise of many of the people involved in managing used oil in this country. We have tried to steer a course, which is safe and environmentally acceptable, without involving operators in significant additional costs,” Ms Hobbs said.

“We need robust procedures and facilities in place if we are to handle and dispose of large volumes of used oil in ways that are safe and environmentally sound.“

Copies of the guidelines and discussion document are available from the Ministry for the Environment, Box 10-362, Wellington, or from the website The deadline for submissions on the discussion document, in written or electronic form, is 1 March 2001. A series of meetings with interested parties is scheduled for February or March 2001.

For further information, contact:

Justin Brownlie at Occupational Safety and Health Service (04 915 4390)


Kate Barlow at the Ministry for the Environment (04 917 7492).

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Rapid Antigen Testing

National Party leader Christopher Luxon is being allowed to get away with murder. Luxon is not being challenged over his repeated assertions that the rest of the world has enjoyed ready access to rapid antigen tests (aka RATS) for a year, so why aren’t we? In fact, the reality across the Tasman for the past month has seen a colossal shambles unfold over (a) the availability and (b) the affordability of these tests. RATS have become a case of panic buying on steroids. Amid reports of price gouging, stock-piling, socially inequitable access and empty shelves...


Government: Announces Three Phase Public Health Response To Omicron
The Government has announced a three phase Omicron plan that aims to slow down and limit the spread of an outbreak, Associate Minister of Health, Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. “Through the course of managing Omicron, we will be taking a phased approach. As case numbers grow both testing and isolation approaches will change in response... More>>

Save The Children: Thousands Join Call To Retain New Zealand’s Children’s Commissioner

More than 6000 Kiwis have joined Save the Children New Zealand’s call to retain the vital role of Children’s Commissioner, as the Government considers a new bill proposing major changes to the office, including the removal of a named Children’s Commissioner... More>>

Science Media Centre: Omicron Outbreak Would Move The Country To Red - Expert Reaction

The Prime Minister has announced if Omicron cases spread into the community, the country will move to the traffic light system's Red setting within 48 hours. Jacinda Ardern also mentioned there will be changes to the country's testing regime, with more use of Rapid Antigen Tests... More>>

Transparency International: New Zealand Retains Top Ranking In Annual Corruption Perceptions Index
New Zealand is once again ranked least corrupt in the world by Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index. This year New Zealand’s score of 88 out of 100 is unchanged resulting in it being first equal with Denmark and Finland... More>>

TradeMe: Property Prices Increase By A Record 25% In One Year
In December, the national average asking price jumped by a quarter year on year, to reach a new high of $956,150, according to the latest Trade Me Property Price Index. Trade Me Property Sales Director Gavin Lloyd said last month’s national average asking price increase was the largest on record... More>>

Statistics: Departures Lift Border Crossing Numbers

The number of people crossing New Zealand’s border went up in November 2021, mostly due to an increase in departures, Stats NZ said today. There were 28,700 border crossings in November 2021, made up of 12,300 arrivals and 16,400 departures... More>>




InfoPages News Channels