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Used Oil Management

The US EPA has under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (40 CFR 279) and the State of North Carolina under the North Carolina Administrative Code (15a NCAC 13A.0118), promulgated a set of standards for the collection, accumulation, transport, storage, treatment, and disposal of 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 and chemical impurities.  Used oil includes:

  • Materials containing or otherwise contaminated with used oil that are burned for energy recovery,
  • Used oil drained and removed from materials containing or otherwise contaminated with used oil, or
  • Mixtures of used oil and fuels or other products.

Stored used oil is subject to the following regulations or Best Management Practices:

Container Management

  • Containers that store used oil must be in good condition (no severe rusting), be free of any apparent defects or deteriorations, and not be visibly leaking 
  • Containers and aboveground storage tanks used to store used oil must be labeled or marked clearly with the words “Used Oil”
  • Containers and aboveground storage tanks used to store used oil must have secondary containment sufficient to collect any incidental spills from container failure.
  • Containers and aboveground storage tanks used to store used oil must be secured against tampering when not in use.

Recycling of Used Oil

Generators have two options when recycling used oil:

  • Contact an approved used oil recycling vendor and coordinate the pick up of the used oil.  Records of the amount of used oil recycled by the vendor should be maintained by the generator, or
  • Submit a request to the Environmental Programs Division of OESO for the pick up of the used oil for proper disposal.

Upon detection of a release of used oil to the environment, generators must:

  • Stop the release,
  • Contain the release of used oil,
  • Clean up and properly manage the release used oil and other materials,
  • If necessary, repair or replace any leaking used oil storage containers or tanks prior to returning them to service, and
  • Document the date, type, volume, and steps taken to mitigate the release.

What is not a used oil

  • Mixtures of used oil and hazardous wastes are subject to hazardous waste rules not used oil rules
  • Used oil containing greater than 1,000 ppm total halogens is presumed to be hazardous waste not used oil
  • Used oil containing any concentration of PCBs greater than 50 ppm is subject to PCB management rules.


A used oil generator is any person whose act or process produces used oil or whose act first causes used oil to be subject to these standards

Used Oil Filters

Used oil filters must be treated as a hazardous waste unless they are gravity hot drained.  If they have been drained correctly, they can be recycled or discarded.