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Initiative to recycle lubricant packaging makes headway in New Zealand

Major lubricant brands in New Zealand have called on importers and distributors to join them in tackling millions of waste lubricant packages being discarded every year.

In a bid to tackle the problem, the 3R Group, a privately owned consultancy, is leading the Waste Lubricant Container Product Stewardship Scheme which has been established with the aim of exploring recycling options for used lubricant containers. 3R Group, which was established in 2004, is located in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

It is estimated that around 7 million (20 liter and under) lubricant and grease containers, plus an unknown number of 200-liter drums, are sent to landfills each year.

The scheme intends to “close the loop” on lubricant packaging and contribute to the development of a circular economy in New Zealand, with a focus on supporting the development of processing capacity and end use markets.

Members intend to work together as part of a voluntary, industry-led scheme to recover, reuse and recycle waste lubricant containers for urban and rural customers. It is hoped that this will maximize the number of containers diverted from landfill and reduce the need for virgin resin imports.

“Considering that most lubricant containers are manufactured from high density polyethylene (HDPE) or metal, both highly recyclable after pre-treatment, this provides the ideal opportunity to capture these resources onshore,” said Adele Rose, chief executive of 3R Group.

“The scheme is focused on creating an environment for market pull through of the collected material, supporting the economy through improved resource use and employment opportunities. The scheme will create a united industry position that will help bring positive behavioral change to the way that waste lubricant packaging has traditionally been disposed of,” Rose said.

3R began working with the industry after being approached by Z Energy Ltd earlier this year to facilitate an industry working group to develop stewardship for waste lubricant container recycling. Initial meetings with the industry made it clear that a nation-wide solution was needed, she said.

Z Energy is joined by other companies — Aegis Oil Co., Allied Lubricants Ltd (HWR), Castrol NZ, Farmlands Co-Operative Society Ltd (Gulf Oil), Lubricants NZ (Vertex & Elf), Oil Intel Ltd (Total Lubricants), Penrite Oil NZ Ltd and Valvoline NZ Ltd — in the effort. Other lubricant companies are expected to join in the coming months.