WHILE much of Australian manufacturing is going down the gurgler, a new, innovative and environmentally friendly industry was officially launched in Yarwun on Wednesday.
The $55 million Northern Oil Refinery is the biggest of its kind in Australia and it sits in Gladstone's backyard.
It brings 40 new operational jobs and countless indirect jobs for the region.
The joint venture project between Southern Oil Refinery and JJ Richards & Sons was officially launched by Queensland Environment and Heritage Minister Andrew Powell, who said the value of the materials in commercial and industrial waste was estimated at $26.5 billion a year.
In Australia about 350 million litres of waste oil is created every year, with 60% of that burned and 24% exported overseas to be burned.
Once fully operational, this re-refinery will reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 290,000 tonnes per year.
SOR managing director Tim Rose said the plant was the next generation of waste oil management.
"To the uninitiated 'lube oil' may not sound too sexy, but it is essential…it keeps your cars running, our planes in the air, mining and farming equipment going - it literally lubricates the wheels of commerce and industry," he said.
Mr Rose said the refinery was an investment in manufacturing, an investment in regional Australia, and an investment in a better environmental future.
"Burning destroys a valuable commodity and permanently removes lube oil from productive use," he said.
JJ Richards general manager business development Richard Taylor said it was mining giants looking for better waste options that had taken them on a journey to Mr Rose's Southern Oil plant in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales - a much smaller plant that already runs to capacity.
"Once fully operational, this re-refinery will reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 290,000 tonnes per year," he said of the Gladstone plant.
"One hundred per cent of Queensland's annual waste lube oil production can now be processed through Gladstone."
He said 99% of the lube oil component in the waste oil was recovered as high-quality lube oil for reuse.
Facts on waste oil
- Waste oil is a hazardous substance.
- 1 litre of waste oil will contaminate about 1million litres of water.
- Every tonne of oil burnt in Australia releases almost 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents.
- If all of Australia's waste oil was re-refined, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by about 1million tonnes.
'We want your waste oil'
WHILE the joint venture operators of the Northern Oil Refinery have brought the next generation of environmentally friendly re-refining of lube oil to town, they are now calling for strong support from waste oil producers.
And the country's politicians backed them on the call to get heavy industry on board.
Cited as a "game changer" for Queensland, all producers - from the garages where our cars are serviced to the significant users in mines, on farms and in big industry - will now have an environmentally friendly option to remove their waste oil for free.
Southern Oil Refinery managing director Tim Rose said it was a great environmental and economic story happening right here in Gladstone.
"What we need now is strong support from waste oil producers like mines, and local governments, to direct their waste lube oil to make sure it is re-refined," he said.
Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell said every year in Australia about 100 million litres of waste oil went unaccounted for.
"Keeping resources in the economy allows us to capitalise on opportunities which would otherwise be lost," he said.
Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said they would "much rather see more of these re-refineries established in Australia than continue to see a valuable resource quite literally go up in smoke".