Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Re-refined Oil?

Used oil is a resource, not a waste.

Re-refined oil is used motor oil that undergoes an extensive re-refining process removing contaminants.

Used oil can be recycled for re-use in its original application as a lubricant or to a product that may be used as fuel or an energy source.

How much useable oil can be recovered from 1 litre of used oil?

Re-refineries recover 75% of base lube oil from each litre of used oil and the heavy oil residue which contains the depleted additives can be added to bitumen for use in road-making or used as a heavy fuel oil.

How many times can used lube oil be recycled?

Used oil can be re-refined indefinitely (it does not wear out).

Does re-refining used oil have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions?


Re-refining is an energy-efficient and environmentally beneficial method of managing used oil.

Re-refining used motor oil takes only 1/3 the energy of refining crude oil to lubricant quality.

The statistic regarding energy efficiency and re-refined oil is derived from the fact that re-refined oil does not need to be:

  • explored for
  • drilled for
  • pumped out of the ground
  • shipped/transported hundreds and/or thousands of kilometers
  • does not require as many steps in the refining process as crude oil.

What treatment technologies are used?

Filtered used oil is a product that has simply passed through a metal mesh screen to remove gross contaminants such as dirt, bits of rag and cigarette butts, etc.

Dewatering can be simply draining off free water. Use of high speed centrifuges and chemical emulsion breakers rapidly remove water and sludge, while the use of heat will completely dry the oil.

Demineralised used oil undergoes a chemical/surfactant treatment process that removes a large amount of heavy metals, water, ash and sediment from used oil.

Re-refined oil undergoes distillation processes such as thin film evaporation, and/or propane de-asphalting that effectively removes all heavy metals, water, ash and sediment from used oil. The re-refined oil is further processed by hydrogen, solvent or clay treatments and put to use as lubricant base oil or high grade burner fuel.

How else does recycling used oil help Australia?

One litre of crude oil is saved for every litre of recycled oil which in turn impacts upon Australia's balance of payments issues since much of our crude oil needs are imported.

Funded by the Australian Government under the Product Stewardship for Oil Program.