United States
                           Environmental Protection
                            Solid Waste
                            and Emergency Response
                                                         November 1996
                           Managing  Used  Oil
                          Advice  for  Small   Businesses
• Synthetic oil—usually
  derived from coal, shale,
  or polymer-based
  starting material
• Engine oil—typically
  includes gasoline and
  diesel engine crankcase
  oils and piston-engine
  oils for automobiles,
  trucks, boats, airplanes,
  locomotives, and heavy
• Transmission fluid
• Refrigeration oil
• Compressor oils
• Metalworking fluids and
• Laminating oils
• Industrial hydraulic fluid
• Copper and aluminum
  wire drawing solution
• Electrical insulating oil
• Industrial process oils
• Oils used as buoyants

This list does not include all
types of used oil.
   Used Oil \& Not
  Waste oil that is bottom
  clean-out waste from
  virgin fuel storage tanks,
  virgin fuel oil spill
  cleanups, or other oil
  wastes that have not
  actually been used
  Products such as
  antifreeze and kerosene
  Vegetable and animal
  oil, even when used as a
  Petroleum distillates
  used as solvents
Oils that do not meet EPA's
definition of used oil can still
pose a threat to the environ-
ment when disposed of and
could be subject to the RCRA
regulations for hazardous
waste management.
*|^his fact sheet contains valuable information for businesses such as service stations,
     fleet maintenance facilities, and "quick lube" shops that generate and handle used oil.
  I  It summarizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) used oil manage-
ment standards—a set of "good housekeeping" requirements for used oil handlers. These
requirements are detailed in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 279.
For a complete understanding of these standards, contact the RCRA Hotline at 800 424-
9346. Small businesses should also refer to EPA's Emergency Response Division's
Information Line  at 202 260-2342 for information on how to manage spills.
What  \e  Used Oil?
     PA's regulatory definition of used oil is as follows: Used oil is any oil that has been
     refined from crude oil or any synthetic oil that has been used and as a result of such
     use is contaminated by physical or chemical impurities.
   Simply put, used oil is exactly what its name implies—any petroleum-based or synthetic oil
that has been used. During normal use, impurities such as dirt, metal scrapings, water, or
chemicals can get mixed in with the oil, so that in time the oil no longer performs well.
Eventually, this used oil must be  replaced with virgin or re-refined oil to do the job at hand
   EPA's used oil management standards include a three-pronged approach to determine if a
substance meets the definition of used oil. To meet EPA's definition of used oil, a substance
must meet each of the following three criteria:
   Origin—the first criterion for identifying used oil is based on the origin of the oil. Used oil
   must have been refined from  crude oil or made from synthetic materials. Animal and
   vegetable oils are excluded from EPA's definition of used oil.
   Use—the second criterion is based on whether and how the oil is used. Oils used as
   lubricants, hydraulic fluids, heat transfer fluids, buoyants, and for other similar purposes
   are considered used oil. Unused oil such as bottom clean-out waste from virgin fuel oil
   storage tanks or virgin fuel oil recovered from a spill, do not meet EPA's definition of
   used oil because these oils have never been "used." EPA's definition also excludes
   products used as cleaning agents  or solely for their solvent properties, as well as
   certain petroleum-derived products like antifreeze and kerosene.
   Contaminants—the third criterion is based on whether or not the oil is contaminated
   with either physical or chemical impurities. In other words, to meet EPA's definition,
   used oil must become contaminated as a result of being  used. This aspect of EPA's
   definition includes residues and contaminants generated from handling, storing,
   and processing used oil. Physical contaminants could include metal shavings,
   sawdust, or dirt. Chemical contaminants could include solvents, halogens, or

How \e>  Veed  Oil  Recycled?
     Once oil has been used, it can be collected, recycled, and used
     over and over again. An estimated 380 million gallons of
     used oil are recycled each year. Recycled used
oil can sometimes be used again for the same job
or can take on a completely different task. For
example, used motor oil can be re-refined and
sold at the store as motor oil or processed for
furnace fuel oil. Aluminum rolling oils also can
be filtered on site and used over again.

 > Printed on paper that contains at least 20 percent postconsumer fiber.

       Used oil can be recycled in the following ways:

          • Reconditioned on site, which involves
          removing impurities from the used oil and using
           it again. While this form of recycling might not
           restore the oil to its original condition, it does
            prolong its life.
            • Inserted into a petroleum refinery, which
            involves introducing used oil as a feedstock
            into either the front end of the process or the
           coker to produce gasoline and coke.
         • Re-refined, which involves treating used oil to
       remove impurities so that it can be used as a base
   stock for new lubricating oil. Re-refining prolongs the life of
   the oil resource indefinitely. This form of recycling is the
   preferred option because it closes the recycling loop by
   reusing the oil to make the same product that it was when
   it started out, and therefore uses less energy and less
   virgin oil.
   Processed and burned for energy recovery, which
   involves removing water and particulates so that used
   oil can be burned as fuel to generate heat or to power
   industrial operations. This form of recycling is not as
   preferable as methods that reuse the material because it
   only enables the oil to be reused once. Nonetheless,
   valuable energy is provided (about the same as
   provided by normal heating oil).
Recycling Used Oil \& Good for the Environment
        and the Economy—Here's Froofl
  •  Re-refining used oil takes only about one-third the
     energy of refining crude oil to lubricant quality.
  •  It takes 42 gallons of crude oil, but only one gallon
     of used oil, to produce 2 1/2 quarts of new,
     high-quality lubricating oil.
  •  One gallon of used oil processed for fuel contains
     about 140,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) of
Doe& My  Business Handle
Used Oil?
   e following paragraphs describe different types of
  businesses that handle used oil.
   Generators are businesses that handle used oil through
   commercial or industrial operations or from the
   maintenance of vehicles and equipment. Generators are
   the largest segment of the used oil industry. Examples
   of common generators are car repair shops, service
   stations, quick lube shops, government motorpools,
   grocery stores, metal working industries, and boat
   marinas. Farmers who produce less than an average of
   25 gallons of used oil per month are excluded from
   generator status. Individuals who generate used oil
   through the maintenance  of their personal vehicles and
   equipment are not subject to regulation under the used
   oil management standards.
•  Collection centers and aggregation points are
   facilities that accept small amounts of used oil and store
   it until enough is collected to ship it elsewhere for
   recycling. Collection centers typically accept  used oil
   from multiple sources that include  both businesses and
   individuals. Aggregation points collect oil only from
   places run by the same owner or operator and from
•  Transporters are companies that  pick up used oil from
   all sources and deliver  it to re-refiners, processors, or
   burners. Transfer facilities include any structure or area
   where used oil is held for longer than 24 hours, but not
   longer than 35 days. Examples of transfer facilities are
   loading docks and parking areas.
•  Re-refiners and processors are facilities that blend or
   remove impurities from used oil so that it can be burned
   for energy recovery or reused. Included in this category
   are re-refiners who process used oil so that it can be
   reused in a new product such as a lubricant  and
   recycled again and again. EPA's management standards
   primarily focus on this group of used oil handlers.
•  Burners burn used oil for energy recovery in boilers,
   industrial furnaces, or in hazardous waste incinerators.
•  Marketers are handlers who either a) direct  shipments
   of used oil to be burned as fuel in  regulated  devices or,
   b) claim that certain EPA specifications are met for used
   oil to be burned for energy recovery in devices that are
   not regulated. They also sometimes help move
   shipments of used oil to burners. By definition,
   marketers must also fall into  at least one of the above
What Standards  Should My

Business  Follovv?

  If your business generates or handles used oil, there are
  certain good housekeeping practices that you must
  follow. These required practices, called "management
standards," were developed by EPA for businesses that
handle used oil. The management standards are common
sense, good business practices designed to ensure the safe
handling of used oil, to maximize recycling, and to minimize
disposal. The standards apply to all used oil handlers,
regardless of the amount of the oil they handle.
   Although different used oil handlers may have specific
requirements, the following requirements  are common to all
types of handlers. These requirements relate to storage and
to cleaning up leaks and spills, as follows.

•  Label all containers and tanks as Used Oil.
•  Keep containers and tanks in good condition. Don't
   allow tanks to rust, leak, or deteriorate. Fix structural
   defects immediately.
•  Never store used oil in anything other than tanks and
   storage containers. Used oil may also be  stored in units
   that are permitted to store regulated hazardous waste.
   Tanks and containers storing used oil  do not need to be
   RCRA permitted, however, as long as they are labeled
   and in good condition. Storage of used oil in lagoons,
   pits, or surface  impoundments that are not permitted
   under RCRA is prohibited.

Oil Leaks or Spills
•  Take steps to prevent leaks and spills. Keep machinery,
   equipment containers, and tanks in good working
   condition and be careful when transferring used oil.
   Have sorbent materials available on site.
•  If a spill or leak occurs, stop the oil from flowing at the
   source. If a  leak from a container or tank can't be
   stopped, put the oil in another holding container or tank.
•  Contain spilled oil. For example, containment  can be
   accomplished by erecting sorbent berms or by
   spreading a sorbent over the oil and surrounding area.
•  Clean up the oil and recycle the used oil as you would
   have before it was spilled. If recycling is not possible,
   you first must make sure the used oil is not a  hazardous
   waste and dispose of it appropriately. All  used cleanup
   materials, from rags to sorbent booms, that contain free-
   flowing used oil also must be handled according to the
   used oil management standards. Remember,  all leaked
   and spilled  oil collected during cleanup must be handled
   as used oil. If you are a used oil handler, you  should
   become familiar with these cleanup methods. They may
   also  be part of a spill response action plan.
•  Remove, repair, or replace the defective tank  or
   container immediately.
Record Keeping
   EPA uses 12-digit identification (ID) numbers to track
used oil. Transporters hauling used oil must have a valid
EPA ID number, and generators, collection centers, and
aggregation points must use transporters with EPA ID
numbers for shipping used oil off site. If you need an ID
number, contact your EPA regional office or your state
director. (You also can call the RCRA Hotline for more
information.) Generators, collection centers, aggregation
points, and any handler that transports used oil in
shipments of less than  55 gallons  do not need an ID
number, but may need  a state or local permit.

    Used oil transporters, processors, burners, and
marketers also must record each acceptance and delivery
of used oil shipments. Records can take the form of a log,
invoice, or other shipping document and must be
maintained for three years. Re-refiners, processors, transfer
facilities, and burners must have secondary containment
systems (e.g., oil-impervious dike, berm, or retaining wall
and a floor) so  that oil can not reach the environment in the
event of a leak or spill.  EPA also encourages generators to
use a secondary containment system to prevent used oil
from contaminating the environment.
    Burners of used oil that meets a certain set of quality
standards called the used oil specifications are not
regulated under the used oil management standards, as
long as the used oil is burned in appropriate boilers,
furnaces, or incinerators. Call the RCRA Hotline for more
    Know and understand your state regulations
governing the management of used oil—they might be
stricter than EPA's. Contact your state or local environ-
mental agency to determine your best course of action.
Mixing Used Oil and Hazardous Waste
   In addition to EPA's used oil management standards,
your business may be required to comply with federal and
state hazardous waste regulations if your used oil becomes
contaminated from mixing it with hazardous waste. If used
oil is mixed with hazardous waste, it probably will have to
be managed as a hazardous waste. Hazardous waste
disposal is a lengthy, costly, and strict regulatory process.
The only way to be sure your used  oil does not become
contaminated with hazardous waste is to store it separately
from all solvents and chemicals and not to mix it with
anything. If you believe your used oil might be mixed with a
hazardous waste, call the RCRA Hotline at 800 424-9346.
Hotline representatives can answer most of your questions
or direct you to appropriate state environmental offices.

How Should My Business Manage Used
Oil Filters?
   The Filter Manufacturers' Council maintains a  regulatory
hotline and database to encourage the proper management
of used oil filters. By calling the hotline at 800 99-FILTER, you
can access the proper management requirements for your
particular states. The database contains:

•  Overviews of federal and state regulations relevant to
   the management of oil filters.
•  Addresses and phone numbers  of the regulatory
   agencies governing the management of used filters in
   each state.
•  A listing of companies, by state, that transport, process,
   and recycle used filters.

How Can My Business Avoid
Costly Cleanups?
What Else Can My Business Do
to Conserve  Oil?
       Meeting the following conditions relieves service
       station dealers from responsibility for costly
       cleanups and liabilities associated with off-site
handling of used oil. To meet these conditions, service
stations must: (1) comply with the management standards
described on page 2 and 3, (2) not mix used oil with any
hazardous substance, and  (3)  accept used oil from
Do-it-yourselfers (DlYs) and send it for recycling. Call the
RCRA Hotline for complete details regarding this liability

Recommended Cleanup Practices
    EPA recommends, but  does not require, the following
cleanup practices for used oil handlers: (1) maximize the
recovery of used oil; (2) minimize the generation of used oil
sorbent waste by choosing  reusable sorbent materials;
(3) use the spent sorbent materials to produce recycled
sorbent materials; and (4) 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).
   Minimize the amount of used oil you produce. The less
   used oil that is produced in the first place, the less that
   ultimately has to be handled. Businesses can filter,
   separate, and recondition used oil to prolong its
   usable life.

   Purchase re-refined used oil products instead of virgin
   oil products. Re-refined oil works just as well as virgin
   oil. Products that display the American Petroleum
   Institute (API) "starburst" meet the same high-quality
   specifications as virgin oil.

   Practice safe management of used oil. Don't mix used
   oil with anything. Always store used oil in leak-proof
   containers that are in secure areas safely away from
   workers and the environment. Send used oil to a
   re-refiner whenever possible.
              For More Information
  For additional information, call the RCRA Hotline.
  Callers within the Washington Metropolitan Area must
  dial 703 412-9810 or TDD 703 412-3323 (hearing
  impaired). Long-distance callers may call 800 424-
  9346 or TDD 800 553-7672. The RCRA Hotline
  operates weekdays, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Write to the
  RCRA Information Center (5305W), U.S.
  Environmental Protection Agency, 401  M Street, SW,
  Washington, DC 20460.
   United States
   Environmental Protection Agency
   Washington, DC 20460

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