Waste oil removal is an industry that has evolved over the years as new methods of disposal have been developed. Pumping waste material out of a tank with air pressure and into tanks for storage or recycling is a common method. Although, continual research of other techniques reduces negative effects on our environment.


Oil waste can pollute the water and groundwater around it, for example. Following proper disposal protocol prevents long-term environmental damage. Fortunately, oil recycling has shown to be more beneficial than just disposing of it in landfills or allowing it to seep into waterways.


What is the Difference Between Used Oil and Waste Oil?


Oil is a valuable resource. It’s important to know how to manage it. So, let’s start by examining these two types of commonly confused oils: used and waste.


Used Oil

Any kind of petroleum-based or synthetic oil filtered from crude oil creates used oil. Consider oil “used oil” if it serves a purpose. Used oil does not include animal-based and vegetable oils. Used oil gets dirty, essentially. Accidental, mixed-in dirt, chemicals, bits of metal, or even water causes it to not work as well.


Treat used oil as a hazardous waste, when mixed with hazardous waste. Unfortunately, disposal of these wastes is a time-consuming, costly, and regulated process. Prevent used oil from becoming polluted with hazardous waste by storing it separately from all substances and chemicals. Also, don’t mix anything with it.


Businesses such as service stations and fleet maintenance facilities use and produce used oil. Check out the EPA’s Code of Federal Regulations to learn how to properly manage used oil. However, state and local regulations sometimes differ, might be stricter, and should be reviewed.


Used Oil Storage

You may store your used oil in above-ground tanks or containers. First, properly storing, labeling, and separating containers is key. Next, keep a record of all oil containers, shipments, EPA numbers if applicable, and amounts.



Waste Oil

Waste oil is any oil that didn’t meet specifications and that can’t be used as planned. Improperly sealing or storing oil containers leads to contamination. Then, impurities or contaminants keep waste oil from being used. Examples of waste oil can include bottom clean-out waste from product oil storage tanks, fuel oil spill cleanup, or other oil wastes that haven’t been used. Unfortunately, waste oil is oil that never got a chance to be used at all. Hence, it is completely “wasted.”


Workers evaluate waste oil to decide whether it is hazardous waste under OAC rule 3745-52-11 before disposing of it. Notably, waste oil could show any of the characteristics (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity) of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste protocols outline correct waste removal. However, if it’s determined to be a non-hazardous waste, it would be managed with appropriate Solid and Infectious Waste requirements.



waste oil

Is Oil a Hazardous Waste?


No, oil is not a hazardous waste. However, mixing oil with hazardous materials creates hazardous waste. Hazardous waste qualities include ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity, according to the EPA.


Can Waste Oil Be Recycled?


Simply put, yes. When properly controlled, recycled and reused waste oil provides fuel and other resources to companies and businesses in need.


Waste Oil Removal Services


Many businesses use waste oil removal services. Waste management experts use advanced processes to return oil to its original state, making it ready for use again. Ideally, preventing oil from ending up in landfills benefits everyone, including the environment.


How is Used Oil Recycled?


According to the EPA, 380 million gallons of used oil are recycled each year. There are many ways you can recycle oil waste. Reusing it on-site, sending it off to a refinery to turn it into new oil, or burning it for fuel are all viable options.


Used oil can be:

  • reconditioned (removes impurities, allows it to be used again, & prolongs its life)
  • inserted into a petroleum refinery
  • re-refined (prolongs the life of the oil indefinitely)
  • processed and burned for energy recovery (less desirable because it only allows the oil to be reused once, but does provide valuable energy)


For example, re-refine used motor oil to sell again or turn into furnace fuel oil. Also, aluminum rolling oils can be purified and reused.


Is Recycled Oil as Good as New Oil?


Typically, yes! New recycling techniques produce high-quality based oil that equals crude oil. For example, Valvoline boasts that its motor oil meets or exceeds industry standards with its high-end processes. Their oils work just as well, independently or mixed, with the same protection and performance qualities as original, unused oils.


Oil Spill Clean Up


Oil spills immediately begin to harm the environment. Unfortunately, the effects of this are quite severe, as it can negatively impact local wildlife and make water sources unsafe for drinking or bathing. It leads to economic loss and ecological damage. 


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends immediate cleanup of spills. It’s always best to use a Hazwoper-trained expert for help when dealing with hazardous materials like some petroleum products. 


According to the EPA, “the primary tools used to respond to oil spills are mechanical containment, recovery, and cleanup equipment. Such equipment includes a variety of booms, barriers, and skimmers, as well as natural and synthetic sorbent materials. Chemical and biological methods can be used in conjunction with mechanical means for containing and cleaning up oil spills.”


Restoring the site back as closely as possible into its original condition is the final step in the process of cleaning up. For example, this might mean using appropriate chemicals on hard surfaces and vegetation, removing contaminated soil around trees, or ensuring there are no leftover slippery spots.



Conserving Oil to Prevent Waste Oil Removal and Landfill Dumps


Finally, some conservation tips to remember:

  • Properly store all oils to prevent used oil from becoming waste oil.
  • Reduce the amount of used oil you create. Creating less oil means more recycling and reusing of old oil. Businesses and companies can filter, purify, separate, and clean used oil to prolong its life of use.
  • Buy re-refined or restored used oil products instead of brand new oil products. Re-refined oil works just as well as brand new oil. Products that show the American Petroleum Institute (API) “starburst” meet the same high-quality standards as brand new oil.
  • Practice proper treatment of used oil. Also, don’t mix used oil with anything at all. Always store used oil in leak-proof, labeled containers that are in safe areas away from workers and the environment. Send used oil to a re-refiner whenever possible.
Waste Oil Removal