Every year about 60 million litres of lubricating oil is sold in New Zealand for use in petrol and diesel engines and hydraulics. When an engine is serviced (either privately or by a commercial mechanic) and the engine oil is changed, the left-over, used oil contributes to the single largest non-watery liquid waste stream in New Zealand – an estimated 30 million litres of used oil per year. This substance is potentially harmful to human health and the environment and therefore, the safe recovery and reuse (or disposal) of used oil helps to ensure the protection of our health and the environment.
It is estimated that 656,000 litres of used oil produced by non-commercial users is in need of collection in the Auckland region, and that only one third (31 per cent) of this is being recovered by the existing services (local councils, waste oil collection agents and other known sources).
A snap-shot survey of used oil customers undertaken by the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) in 2009 revealed that 53 per cent of customers routinely undertook their own oil change. Of these, 12 per cent dispose of their waste oil through the Hazmobile and 21 per cent reported that they take it to a garage or mechanic. Other methods range from pouring it down the drain, digging a hole in the garden or storing it at home.
This means that around 437,000 litres of used oil could be recovered from householders each year and safely disposed of.
Auckland Council launched a pilot used oil scheme in 2011, with the support of the Ministry of Environment and industry groups and organisations. On 1 August 2012, the scheme was handed over to industry partners, Repco, Segedin's Auto Spares and Recover Oil Save Environment (ROSE) to run.