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Motor Oil Moving On

In Swaziland, as in many countries in Africa, it is not unusual for car owners to service their own cars. However, many people still dispose of used motor oil in an environmentally irresponsible manner.

In Swaziland we do not have waste facilities for hazardous products, nor do we have used-oil collectors such as in neighbouring South Africa.

The result is that used oil is dumped, into landfill, or onto open ground. Oil is known to have numerous adverse effects when dumped in water or land.

Some other uninformed methods of disposal of motor oil is rubbing it on timber as a repellent for dry wood termites, and some use it to kill off unwanted vegetation such as weeds. All these uses are harmful to the environment because they can either contaminate soil and/or ground water.

The issue of used oil disposal is not one that can be solved by simply requiring that people make a change in behaviour. What is required is that government must intervene by either setting up disposal facilities, or call for tenders for persons who will be able to acquire resources and know how to destroy used oil or recycle it.

Yes, used oil can be recycled because oil does not wear out, it merely gets dirty. So there are processes to clean it out and reuse it. Given the spike in car ownership occasioned by the introduction of cheap imports from Japan, the amount of motor oil has also risen. The government is thus urged to look into including motor oil disposal in its environmental policy.

One litre of oil has a contamination potential of one million litres of water, it is therefore important that this issue be afforded the priority status it demands.

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