Used Oil is...
Any oil refined from crude oil or synthetic oil that as a result of its use, storage, or handling has become unsuitable for its original purpose, but which may be suitable for further use.
Used oil includes crankcase oil, compressor oil, cutting oils, synthetic oils, etc.
The Problem With Improper Disposal
Improper disposal of oil could contaminate soil, surface water, or drinking water. In North Carolina, over 20,000,000 gallons of oil are sold annually for light trucks and automobiles.
As of March 1, 1990, North Carolina banned the disposal of used oil in landfills.
Hazardous or Non-Hazardous?
Used motor oil itself is not regulated as a hazardous waste in North Carolina if it is recycled or burned for energy recovery. If used oil is not recycled, the generator must determine if it is a hazardous waste prior to disposal.
Used oil generators include those who service vehicles and collect used oil from do-it-yourselfers (DIYers).
To Help Prevent Pollution . . .
- Change oil only when necessary and use longer lasting oils.
- Collect used oil in a proper container that prevents leaks and spills.
- Recycle used oil.
- Consider using by-pass filters for yourself or your customers.
- Consider offering a drop-off service for DIYers to recycle their used oil.
- Consider burning your own used oil and DIYer used oil in an on-site space heater. Space heaters must be vented to the outside and designed for a maximum capacity of not more than 500,000 Btu per hour.
- Maintain a log of used oil shipped off site (quantities, dates, destinations).
The Wrong Things to Do
- Do not pour used oil down a drain, on the ground, into surface waters, or into sewers.
- Do not burn used oil in an uncontrolled setting or conduct other burning without approval.
- Do not mix chlorinated solvents such as carburetor cleaner with used oil.
- Do not mix different used oils to facilitate recycling.
Applicable Laws: (G.S. 130A-290(B) and 309.15-24; 15A NCAC 13A.0018)
- No person may knowingly:
- Collect, transport, store, recycle, use, or dispose of used oil in any manner that endangers the public health or welfare.
- Discharge used oil into sewers, drainage systems, septic tanks, surface waters, groundwaters, water courses, or marine waters.
- Dispose of used oil in any landfill in the State unless such disposal has been approved by the Solid Waste Section of the Division of Solid Waste Management.
- Mix used oil with solid waste that is to be disposed of in solid waste landfills.
- Mix used oil with hazardous substances that make the used oil unsuitable for recycling or beneficial use.
- Used oil shall not be used for road oiling, dust control, weed abatement, or other similar purposes that have the potential to release used oil into the environment.
- Used oil mixed with a listed hazardous waste (listed due to corrosivity, toxicity, or reactivity) becomes a hazardous waste. If mixed with an ignitable hazardous waste, used oil is not considered hazardous.
- Generators of used oil are completely responsible for the proper storage, handling, and recycling or disposal of the used oil. If a generator also collects DIYer used oil, the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) provides a liability exemption for emergency response costs or damages resulting from threatened or actual releases associated with subsequent off-site handling of the oil. In addition to collecting DIYer used oil, other conditions must also be met for a generator to claim this exemption.
- Five gallons or less of DIYer used oil is assumed NOT to be contaminated with any hazardous substance.
- Any person who decides to dispose of used oil rather than recycle it or burn it for energy recovery must determine if it is a hazardous waste before disposal.
- Used oil underground storage tank fill lines and used oil containers must be labeled "used oil."
- Used oil generators may transport up to 55 gallons of their own used oil in their own vehicles to an approved collection center without having to become a certified transporter.
- Any person who transports more than 500 gallons per week of used oil over public highways must be a certified transporter or employed by one. The transporter must be certified with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and obtain an EPA ID number from the Hazardous Waste Section of the Division of Solid Waste Management.
For More Information . . .
This Fact Sheet is only an overview and does not contain detailed information which may apply to your situation. You should call one of these numbers for assistance if you have additional questions.
Hazardous Waste Section, Raleigh, 919/508-8400
Office of Waste Reduction, Raleigh, 919/715-6500
For information on vendor services, by-pass filters, or available equipment for handling and collecting used oil, contact the North Carolina Office of Waste Reduction at 1-800-763-0136 or E-Mail OWR.
The North Carolina Office of Waste Reduction provides free, non-regulatory technical assistance and education on methods to eliminate, reduce, or recycle wastes before they become pollutants or require disposal.
OWR-95-29. November 1995.