The mining industry consumes about 25% of the country’s lubricants, or about 300-million litres year, whith 40% being potentially recyclable used oil, notes the Recycling Oil Saves the Environment (ROSE) Foundation.
ROSE Foundation CEO Bubele Nyiba notes that most mining enterprises are compliant in terms of the proper collection and storage of used oil, but, given the fact that one litre of oil can contaminate one-million litres of water, “it is essential that each and every mining enterprise ensures that [it is] doing all [it] can to protect the environment from this harmful waste”.
Pointing to the water scarcity in the country, particularly in the Western Cape and the Northern Cape, Nyiba emphasises that companies cannot allow South Africa’s surface and underground water resources to be contaminated.
The organisation notes that used oil is classified as a hazardous waste, as it contains harmful compounds and carcinogens that can easily contaminate the environment. As such, it is governed by strict environmental laws and its storage and disposal have to meet the requirements of the Waste Act.
The foundation explains that any entity generating in excess of 20 kg of used oil a day is required to register on the South African Waste Information System (Sawis).
Once registered, the generators need to enter their figures quarterly onto Sawis. The information needs to be based on actual volumes and not estimates, and should be submitted and retained by the waste generator for five years, producing it for inspection when required.
The required information includes the month and year to which the information applies, the category of waste, the source from which the waste comes and the quantity of waste reported in tons.
Additionally, since used oil is classified as hazardous waste, companies are required to produce a Hazardous Waste Manifest, a document that will track the used oil from cradle to grave and offer a clear snapshot of how it has been managed.
The manifest should comprise a unique consignment identification number; the companies’ contact details, including the contact person, physical and postal addresses, phone and fax numbers and email address; the physical address of the site where the waste was generated; and an emergency contact number.
Additionally, the following should be specified: the origin/source of the waste; waste classification and category; the physical nature/consistency of the waste (liquid, solid, sludge; pumpable or nonpumpable); the quantity of waste; packaging (bulk, small containers, tank); the transport type (tanker, truck, container); special handling instructions; the date of collection/dispatch; and the intended receiver.
The ROSE Foundation suggests that mining enterprises store used oil in bulk storage tanks with specially built bund walls around them to contain any leaks or spills.
“Position used oil tanks in a place that can be accessed by a ROSE-registered used-oil collector and keep the surrounding area clear and clean. Ideally, store them under cover and away from heat or sources of ignition,” says Nyiba.
“Keep used oil free of water and ensure your storage tanks are tightly sealed and covered to protect them from rainwater. Oil that is contaminated with water is far more difficult to recycle – requiring several laborious and costly processes to separate the water from the oil before it can be recycled.”
Nyiba adds that companies should ensure that they do not mix used oil with other fluids, such as antifreeze, transmission fluid, petrol or diesel, as mixing them may make them nonrecyclable as well as hazardous and flammable.
Further, companies are urged to gather and store used oil for responsible collection by a ROSE-registered oil collector who will remove the oil and take it to be recycled in an environmentally compliant and safe manner. “Your collector must always issue you with a safe-disposal certificate, which is now required by law under the Waste Act,” Nyiba stresses.
This safe-disposal certificate issued by ROSE-registered collectors also acts as a Hazardous Waste Manifest, thereby fulfilling the requirements of reporting by law; the same information can be entered onto Sawis.
“Make sure that your used-oil collector is licensed and registered with ROSE, as this ensures that the collectors are compliant with all waste transportation legislation and are strictly managed and audited, further ensuring your compliance as a waste generator.”