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Waste not - cleaning up the oil filters

Oil-contaminated waste, particularly used oil filters, is an ongoing issue for the motor trade. The good news is, there are a range of recycling options around the country.

oil filter brent ward USE

MTA member Brent Ward of Wairarapa Diesel Services became interested in finding a solution about 15 years ago.

“Workshops were just throwing the oil filters into a skip and sending them off to the tip. But about that time, the rules started changing and you weren’t allowed to put these things in the landfill. But, of course, people still did, they just buried them a bit deeper in the bin.”

Brent has gone on to drain the filters and has built his own press to compact them.

“I thought about buying a press but it was very expensive – around $15,000. I reckon it still cost several thousand to make my own.” He recently began promoting a collection service within the Masterton area, charging a small fee to take away the used filters. He provides workshops with a 200-litre drum and collects it once it’s full (a crushed full drum produces 20 litres of oil).

Brent gives the oil to a local business, which uses it for fuel, and he sells the crushed filters to a scrap metal merchant. “It doesn’t make me much money, but I am concerned that there may still be workshops in the area who are not recycling their oil filters.” He encourages those who use his service to charge a dollar or two to the customer for the disposal.

Safe disposal

MTA would support a national stewardship programme for sustainable disposing of these filters at their end of their lives, but there are no immediate plans for such a scheme. However, several waste management companies do offer safe disposal of the filters.

These include Waste Management NZ and Salters Cartage (in Auckland and Waikato). Salters Cartage has recently introduced machinery and a process to drain the oil and strip out the metals and paper from the filters. Salters also cleans and shreds plastic oil containers, which are then recycled into pallet wrap.


In the lower North Island, Filter Disposal Services collect the filters from workshops in Manawatu, Wairarapa, Wellington and Hawke’s Bay. At a facility in Foxton, the oil is extracted using a large press. The metal containers are sent off to be recycled by a scrap merchant.

Owner Craig Dias (above) says, “About 2,500 litres of oil is collected from us very two or three weeks by ExOil who recycle and reuse it.” Craig, bought the business in 2016 and says it has been going for at least 10 years. The assets included the purpose-built truck that is designed to collect oil from the filters as they drain in transit.

“Our ultimate aim is to make sure that the whole process from collection to leaving the workshop is fully streamlined and self-contained. Also, everything that leaves will be 100 percent free of oil. But in order for this to happen it will require more investment, so we’re building up to that.”

In the meantime, he’s happy that his facility and process has been inspected and accredited by Ministry for the Environment officials.