ROSE Foundation Sustainability Profile earns exemplary praise

Established in 1994, the ROSE Foundation (ROSE) is the industry EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) scheme for the lubricating oil industry in South Africa.

Thanks to the efforts of ROSE, the lubricants industry has kept more than 1.5 billion litres of hazardous used lubricant oil out of the environment, This is just one of the achievements published in ROSE’s recently published Sustainability Profile (report).  

The Sustainability Profile is intended to provide all stakeholders with information regarding the value created by ROSE, through its activities, as well as the economic, social and environmental impacts arising from many of these activities.

Developed using globally recognised reporting practices and principles, the Sustainability Profile is aligned with ROSE’s strategic objectives and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

“We are proud to have played a role in the development of ROSE’s inaugural report. The ROSE value creation story and sustainability achievements are important to share. This is an excellent example of how independent EPR programmes can demonstrate leadership and accountability in their sectors, ” said Lloyd Macfarlane, CEO of GSA Campbell, the agency responsible for compiling the profile.

More than 1.5 billion litres of hazardous used lubricant oil has been kept out of the environment, thanks to the efforts of the ROSE Foundation (Recycling Oil Saves the Environment) which is the industry EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) scheme for the lubricating oil industry in South Africa.

The ROSE Foundation, a non-profit organisation that was established by the major lubricant manufacturers and distributors in South Africa as part of their extended producer responsibility, has been integral in championing the responsible collection and recycling of used oil to ensure that it does not end up contaminating the environment.  ROSE is a prime example of a successful frontrunner in the voluntary formation of an EPR programme in South Africa and has enjoyed great successes in its 26 years of operation.

As the oil industry’s outsourced EPR scheme, ROSE’s primary objective is to drive the collection, recycling and reprocessing of used lubricating oil into economically valuable products, using the strictest environmental standards. The ROSE member companies make voluntary contributions of 10 cents per litre sold of virgin oil  as funding for administration of the EPR scheme.

Approximately 350 million litres of new lubricant oil is sold in South Africa every year. The new oil is a combination of locally manufactured, as well as imported lubes. Of the oil that is sold, approximately 150 million litres becomes used oil, of which 120 million litres is collectable for recycling. 

Considering that used oil is full of contaminants that are dangerous to the environment – with one litre capable of contaminating one million litres of water – this is a vast amount of contaminant that could make its way into our environment, were it not for the efforts of the ROSE Foundation.

The formation of the ROSE Foundation to drive used oil recycling was initiated in April 1994, after the government withdrew support for the used oil re-refining industry. Previously, lubricants were taxed to subsidize the re-refining of used oil back into lubricating oil. When this subsidy was removed, the major lubricant companies operating in South Africa took it upon themselves to help protect the environment. They formed the ROSE Foundation as part of an extended producer responsibility initiative, to encourage responsible recycling and to prevent the indiscriminate dumping and burning of used lubricating oil. Currently, 22 of the leading lubricating oil manufacturers and distributors belong to the ROSE Foundation.

Since ROSE’s formation, the major lubricant companies have invested over R100 million towards: building used oil storage depots, manufacturing used oil mini tanks, environmental awareness advertising and stakeholder communications, collecting and safely disposing of used oil, and encouraging collectors and processors of used oil to meet environmental standards.

A sustainable recycling model
Bubele Nyiba, CEO of ROSE, says that ROSE has been praised by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and other industries for its successful model – which has been recognised globally as best practice – and for being a leader in promoting and encouraging environmentally responsible management of used lubricating oils and related waste in South Africa.

“We are the government acknowledged industry representative body that is responsible for the management of the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for used oil in South Africa.  ROSE plays a supporting role for government, particularly in terms of industry standards, environmental policies, regulation, and the ideals and outcomes of the National Development Plan.”

Nyiba explains that the ROSE business model is strongly linked to the principles of the circular economy, which seeks to ‘design out’ waste and keep materials in use for as long as possible.

“Most used oil in South Africa is partially processed to remove certain impurities before being recycled into burner fuel, which is used in furnaces and kilns for the production of a wide range of products. Processing reduces hazardous air emissions and the end product is cheaper than virgin furnace oil.  Recycling used oil not only protects the environment, but also creates cost-efficient products for our economy, which is exactly what sustainable recycling should achieve.”

Retrieving and recycling used oil has proved to be a lucrative enterprise. Approximately 1,300 staff ranging from drivers, labourers and administrators, to operators and managers, are employed in the sector. The employment profile is predominantly male (85%) and African (64%). ROSE describes the used oil recycling industry as a success story on many levels: “The industry is sustainable in that it not only employs many people, but it also enables entrepreneurship.”

“All recycling models need to be sustainable and need to work towards a circular economy to be viable in the long term. ROSE has proved that recycling protects the environment, creates widespread employment opportunities and has a knock on financial benefit for many.  ROSE spearheaded Extended Producer Responsibility – an essential requirement in waste management – 26 years ago, long before it was a requirement in South Africa.  The organisation is a case-study example of a successful EPR programme that was voluntarily implemented,” says Nyiba.

ROSE’s primary objective is to collect as much used lubricating oil as possible and to add as much value to this oil within the strictest environmental standards. Our stated objective is to encourage cleaner production before waste reduction and waste minimisation.  Failing that we aim to recycle or reprocess used lube oil into economically valuable products.”

“With the reality being that one litre of used oil has the capacity to contaminate one million litres of water, coupled with the fact that oil can be recycled many times over, without losing its efficacy – there is an absolute necessity to responsibly collect and recycle used oil. ROSE champions the Petroleum industry’s ‘cradle to grave’ philosophy for used oil management and we are confident of the success of ROSE’s future and look forward to accounting for the collection of many more millions of litres of used oil,” concludes Nyiba.

Click here to read the full 2019 Sustainability Profile