The ROSE amongst the thorns in local oil recycling challenge

03 July 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201915270

Environmental Management & Control
Green Industries & Renewable Energy

MORE than 1.5 billion litres of hazardous used motor oil have been kept out of the environment, thanks to the efforts of the ROSE (Recycling Oil Saves the Environment) Foundation which celebrates 25 years of driving the responsible recycling of used lubricating oil.

That’s according to Bubele Nyiba, CEO of the non-profit organisation that was established by the major lubricant manufacturers and distributors in South Africa.

He said that ROSE has been praised by the government and other industries for its successful model – which has been recognised globally as best practice – and for being a leader in promoting and encouraging environmentally responsible management of used lubricating oils and related waste in South Africa.

“Recycling used oil not only protects the environment, but also creates cost-efficient products for our economy, which is exactly what sustainable recycling should achieve.”

According to the foundation, approximately 350 million litres of new lubricant oil is sold in South Africa every year. The new oil is a combination of locally manufactured, as well as imported lubes. Of the oil that is sold, approximately 150 million litres becomes used oil, of which 120 million litres is collectable for recycling.

Most used oil in South Africa is partially processed to remove certain impurities before being recycled into burner fuel, which is used in furnaces and boilers for the production of a wide range of products. Processing reduces hazardous air emissions and the end product is cheaper than virgin furnace oil.

Retrieving and recycling used oil has proved to be a lucrative enterprise. Approximately 1,300 staff ranging from drivers, labourers and administrators, to operators and managers, are employed in the sector. The employment profile is predominantly male (85%) and African (64%). ROSE describes the used oil recycling industry as a success story on many levels.

“The industry is sustainable in that it not only employs many people, but it also enables entrepreneurship,” said Nyiba.

“All recycling models need to be sustainable and need to work towards a circular economy to be viable in the long term. ROSE has proved that recycling protects the environment, creates widespread employment opportunities and has a knock-on financial benefit for many.

“ROSE spearheaded Extended Producer Responsibility - an essential requirement in waste management - 25 years ago, long before it was a legal requirement in South Africa. The organisation is a case-study example of a successful EPR programme that was voluntarily implemented,” Nyiba said.

Foundation chairperson Fabian Magerman said ROSE aimed to continue to increase the volumes of used oil collected and recycled.

“We all share a common goal when it comes to saving our environment from oil contamination and winning the war in waste management. ROSE is building on our organizational capabilities to ensure our people meet the demands of the future and we are very excited about the ROSE journey ahead.”

According to Magerman the single biggest challenge facing the used oil sector is, and will continue to be, legislation and how it will impact the industry.

“It is imperative that ROSE works alongside government to ensure we help shape legislation which will benefit all stakeholders in the oil industry. We will continue to lobby key stakeholders who make up the value chain in used oil collection to follow our example. This must be done in conjunction with government.”

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