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Did you know that around 500 million litres of hydraulic fluid are sold each year in Australia?

When you don’t properly store and dispose of hydraulic fluids such as oil, you run the risk of polluting the surrounding environment.

Whether it’s hydraulic fluids such as oil, lubricants, or other toxic liquid waste, having a strategy for storage and recycling isn’t just good practice from an environmental standpoint, it’s also the law. So how should waste hydraulic fluid be stored and disposed of? Here’s what you need to know.

Oil waste and the law

Strict regulations exist that manage the disposal, containment, storage, and transport of used hydraulic oils and fluids. First up, it’s illegal to send hydraulic fluid waste to the tip. Oil is classed as a toxic waste product, and even residue oil on barrels, filters, and old equipment parts can be refused at landfill sites. The Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000 specifically outlines what you, as a business, must do to safely dispose and recycle such toxic liquids.

Why is it important to correctly dispose of this hydraulic fluid?

Aside from the legal ramifications, your business must protect the local environment from toxic waste. As hydraulic fluids are highly toxic, they take many years to break down, endangering plants and wildlife. Having an effective oil waste disposal and recycling system is key to ensuring the integrity of your work, minimising the effects on the surrounding environment. 

Understand your oil footprint 

Finding the right solution to your hydraulic fluid waste problems starts with getting to know your own oil footprint. Understanding how much oil you go through will depend on the kind of operation you run, what sorts of equipment you’re using, and how often. Different industries will have varying amounts of hydraulic fluid waste, so there’s no one size fits all answer to this question. A good starting point is to safely collect and store your waste oil over a given period to measure how much waste you’re dealing with. 

Where does this oil come from?

Whenever you clean your hydraulic systems or replace the oil, there will inevitably be oil wastage. Hydraulic oil and other lubricants can also leak from a system causing unwanted mess and damage to other equipment or the surrounding environment. These leas can be external or internal. Here are some places to watch out for:

Eliminate unnecessary waste

A steady drip can accumulate over time and gather on the floor or seep into the ground. Mishandling of oil before it enters the hydraulic system is also a major cause of oil leaks and wastage. Ensuring you handle oil with care will reduce the risk of polluting the ground and wasting precious time and money.

Applications with higher oil waste 

Not all machines are created equal, nor is any machine the same when it comes to oil usage or consumption – that’s because every machine has a different working life and is subject to varying environments and job-sites. 

How should the waste hydraulic fluid be stored and disposed of? – Step by step 

Whether your oil comes from farm tractors, production facilities, or heavy machinery, there are a number of good practices that make your oil usage compliant with the law and keep your business on top of its environmental obligations. 

  1. Safely collect and store all oil waste in clearly marked drums. 
  2. Storage of waste hydraulic oils should be in a secure and undercover location. If stored in a single skin tank – ensure binding surrounds the barrels, in the case of double skin tanks, no binding is required.
  3. Oil filters must be drained and stored in a drum for collection 
  4. Hire an EPA-approved contractor to remove your oil waste.
  5. Ensure you hold onto the contractor-issued “Waste Transport Certificate” for at least 24 months.
  6. Small amounts of oil can be collected and brought to local council depots, ring ahead to check, especially if you’re disposing of filters or empty oil containers.

How to avoid excess hydraulic oil waste

Ensuring your business is fully compliant with waste oil laws is crucial in a time where environmental regulations are increasingly strict and penalties becoming harsher. Staying on top of your obligations isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s also important that you keep up good practices as a company on environmental protection issues. In order to reduce your environmental impact, it’s important to keep your hydraulic systems in good working order. Costly leaks and spills are often the results of inadequate planning and maintenance. 

At Hydraulic Solutions and Sales, we understand that not every business has time to service and maintain their hydraulic systems. Get our team of professional technicians to cover your bases and ensure your hydraulic systems are running efficiently. Becoming fully compliant with your oil waste and environmental obligations is easy with the right expertise. Contact our team today and see how you can evolve your business.