New Zealand Lube Suppliers Talk Rubbish

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New Zealands biggest lubricant brands have joined forces to recover and recycle their packaging.

Z Energy, Aegis Oil,Allied Lubricants Ltd.,Castrol,Farmlands Co-Operative,Lubricants NZ,Penrite Oiland Valvoline are all on board to work out how to collect and repurpose the packaging. Z Energy, Farmlands, Lubricants NZ and Oil Intel supply Caltex and Chevron; Gulf; Vertex and Elf; and Total branded lubes, respectively.

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Other brands are expected to join up over the coming months, said Adele Rose, chief executive at 3R, a privately owned consultancy that specializes in waste solutions. The lube suppliers retained 3R to manage the introduction of voluntary, industry-led scheme for stewardship of waste lubricant containers. 3R is behind other recycling initiatives in New Zealand, including one for mattresses and another for paint products.

The goals set so far include a launch date in mid-2019, choosing a brand name for the scheme and securing government funding. The group will find out in September if its application for a grant from the central governments Environmental Protection Authority has been successful.

Among the details that need to be worked out are costs and whether to impose a tax to help fund the program. Rose said the group is studying similar setups in Canada and the United Kingdom for ideas.

Brands already on board account for an estimated 80 percent of lubricants and greases sold on the South Pacific island state. An estimated 7 million lubricant and grease containers sized 20 liters and less are sent to landfills each year, said Rose, plus an unknown number of 200-liter drums. This figure, according to data extrapolated from Caltex-branded volumes sold in New Zealand, includes 2.3 million grease cartridges and more than 2 million 4- and 5-liter packs. Those containers are sold with some 1.4 million kilograms of lubricants and greases.

Waste lube containers are a concern to many New Zealand residents, a population that generally accepts the science of climate change and is willing to change their habits to contribute to a cleaner environment. New Zealands emblem is a silver fern leaf symbolizing new life and growth. Indeed, lubricant brands customers raised the question, What do we do with the packaging? said Z Energys Anthony Hume, who bears the title sustainability champion. He was brought on board to help provide answers to their environmentally conscious lube and grease customers.

Z Energy first raised the idea of the product stewardship with 3R. Rose said other brands approached were grappling with how to respond to similar concerns from their users and quickly jumped aboard.

Unlike other recycling programs for paper and food waste at service stations, Lubricant packaging needs to be triple-washed, and so it had been put into the too-hard basket, Gerri Ward, Z Energys sustainability and community manager, told Lube Report.

The scheme aims to close the loop on lubricant packaging and contribute to the development of a so-called circular economy in New Zealand. The country, dependent on imports rather than local production, recognizes its need to repurpose waste and packaging for economic and environmental benefits.

Considering that most lubricant containers are manufactured from high-density polyethylene or metal, both highly recyclable after pre-treatment, this provides the ideal opportunity to capture these resources onshore, said Rose.

The group has already identified some uses for recycled lube containers, such as using them in the manufacture of culverts in high-terrain forests. Forestry and agriculture are the main contributors to New Zealands economy. Working out what to do with the packaging is one of the groups biggest challenges. It is confident the environmentally conscious population will readily respond to any roll-out of collection points, said Rose, adding that Z Energys 200-plus fuel service stations will surely be among a string of repositories for lube and grease waste in the future .

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