Hazardous and Solid Waste

Avoiding the Costly Cleanups of Used Oil

Service stations must:

  1. Comply with EPA’s used oil management standards,
  2. Not mix used oil with any hazardous substance, and
  3. Accept used oil from Do-it-yourselfers (DIYs) and send it for recycling. Call the RCRA Hotline for complete details regarding this liability exemption.

Some Help with Cleanup

EPA recommends used oil handlers follow these cleanup practices:

  • Maximize the recovery of used oil;
  • Minimize the generation of used oil sorbent waste by choosing reusable sorbent materials;
  • Use the spent sorbent materials to produce recycled sorbent materials; and
  • Buy sorbent materials with recycled content.

Extraction devices (e.g., centrifuges, wringers, and compactors) can be used to recover used oil from reusable sorbent materials. Sorbent pads can be reused between two and eight times depending on the viscosity of the used oil. These technologies, while not required, can be used to reduce the number of sorbent pads ultimately sent for remanufacture, energy recovery, or disposal. The potential to reduce waste and save money (i.e., lower disposal costs for spent pads and lower per use cost of sorbent pads) by reusing and recycling sorbent pads can be substantial.

Managing Cleanup Materials

If you have used oil on rags or other sorbent materials from cleaning up a leak or spill, you should remove as much of the free-flowing oil as possible and manage the oil as you would have before it spilled.

Once the free-flowing used oil has been removed from these materials, they are not considered used oil and may be managed as solid waste as long as they do not exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic. Note, however, that materials from which used oil has been removed continue to be regulated as used oil if they are to be burned for energy recovery (regardless of the degree of removal).

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