Waste Oil Disposal

Waste Oil Disposal

Best Practices for Waste Oil Disposal

It is important to observe the right procedures when handling and disposing of waste oil and used oil. Most people do not understand the difference between waste oil and used oil and more often they use these terms interchangeably. Despite the two labels identifying the same fluid, there is a substantial difference from a regulatory point of view. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines gives the following definition for used oil, “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.” This only includes petroleum and or synthetic-based oil that has been used before and excludes vegetable or animal based oil. There is a likelihood of oil getting contaminated and being considered not safe to use. For instance, you can have a case where the cap on a new oil drum is broken and leaks water into the drum. In this situation, the oil is considered unusable and hence it would be regarded as waste oil.

If oil contains cadmium (2 ppm), arsenic (5 ppm), lead (100 ppm), and chromium (10 ppm), more than 4,000 ppm total halogens, and a minimum flash point of 1000 F, then it would typically be considered to be off-specification and qualify as hazardous waste.

Considering the previous example, if the seal of the drum was not broken and the oil was not contaminated, then it would be put into service. If it so happens that the seals on the pump in which the oil was placed leak water into the lubricant sump, then when this mixture would be considered as “used oil” when drained into a container. This shows the significant difference between the two terms, seeing that in both situations water was the cause of contamination.

There is an important need for companies to label storage containers correctly in order to specify and avoid mixture of “waste oil” and “used oil”. If your used oil is contaminated by waste oil or hazardous waste, then you might be forced to comply with the hazardous waste regulations of both federal and state authorities used oil management standards. The only way to avoid this strict, lengthy and the costly regulatory process is by ensuring that your used oil is not contaminated, by storing it separate from all solvents and chemicals.


Used oil is considered to be a valuable resource. If the used oil is disposed of at a used-oil collection facility, there are chances of it being recovered and recycled without necessarily having a negative effect to humans or the environment. It should be kept safe from contamination from by other substances, including water, as contaminated oil cannot be recycled.

Regrettably, there is still a percentage of used oil that is not well disposed of in Australia. For instance, when put into containers in house garbage bins, used motor oil mostly ends up in landfill. Spraying on roads for dust suppression, pouring onto weeds, protecting posts, timber and fences from termites and cleaning tools are some of the harmful practices that can lead to oil leakage into the soil and therefore contamination of underground water.

Used oil is flammable and should not be stored in farm-sheds or garages. It also degrades most materials and therefore should not be stored in containers for a long time as it increases the probability of spilling.

Therefore, it is vital to contact an oil collection service provider so as to make it possible to recover as much of used oil as possible and help us to dispose of hazardous waste oil properly to minimise environmental pollution. Contact Coopers Environmental for your waste and used oil disposal today.

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