Southern Oil Chief Operations Officer Dan Czubala at the company’s Yarwun oil recycling plant. Picture: Rodney Stevens
Southern Oil Chief Operations Officer Dan Czubala at the company’s Yarwun oil recycling plant. Picture: Rodney Stevens

EXPLAINED: Step inside nation’s biggest oil recycling plant

GLADSTONE is home to Australia's biggest oil recycling facility, with Southern Oil's Yarwun plant the first and most technologically advanced of its kind to be built in the country in the past 50 years.

Employing 35 people, including many locals, the plant was given a lifeline this week with the Federal Government announcing $7.8 million, to share between 11 facilities in Australia.

The oil recycling incentive sees rebates increase from 50 cents a litre to 62 cents a litre.

Between them, Australia's 11 plants recycle 300 million litres of waste oil a year, the Yarwun plant alone recycling 100 million, turning putrid black sump oil from 48,000 collection facilities nationwide, into clean, saleable products.

"The facility collects waste oil from all over Queensland and the country and recycles it back to an as new lubricant that can be used by industry again," Southern Oil Chief Operating Officer Dan Czubala said.

Mr Czubala said recycling oil was critical to protecting the environment, as just one litre of contaminated oil could pollute 100 million litres of water.

"The waste oil is collected from mechanics, factories, the mining industry and other industries and we get it here as a mixed feed of waste and re refine it back to various grades of a base lubricant oil," Mr Czubala said.

"That base lubricant oil is then sold to lubricant manufacturers, who, through different blending ratios and additives can create a whole host of products.

"From hydraulic oil for mining operations to engine oil for passenger cars through to industrial oil such as chain bar, hundreds of products can be created from this recycled product.

"Aside from five million litres of wastewater, which contaminates the product and is incinerated on site, the other 95 million litres are all usable products, from bitumen components, to lubricants, to fuel oils," Mr Czubala said.

The process works like a massive alcohol plant, distilling the waste oil delivered by semi-trailers, Mr Czubala said, then using solvents which are legislated by the Australian government to remove impurities, leaving a clear base oil.

He said the only by product other than water, are the waste impurities which are sold as fuel to power high temperature burners.

Products produced by Southern Oil's Yarwun plant include light fuel oil and light gas oil, three grades of base oil, light, heavy and very heavy, and asphalt extender.

"Thirty-two people are employed on site, but the facility supports a national network comprising of hundreds of direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs," Mr Czubala said.

"The announcement helps to ensure the recycling of waste oil can continue and waste oil can continue to be collected and make its way here, so we are very thankful to the government for facilitating this support."

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