Rules for used oil generators

If your business generates used oil, there are rules you need to follow.

Find information on what used oil is, how to handle it, and where to take it.

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." Because it is a recyclable or reusable commodity, it may be re-refined for use or burned for energy recovery.

Do not contaminate used oil with dangerous waste, halogenated compounds, or any solid wastes. In some cases, oily wastes may be managed as used oil even when they do not fit the used oil definition.

Do I have used oil or waste oil?

Waste oil is contaminated or off-specification oily waste that must be handled in accordance to the dangerous waste regulations.

Materials that may or may not be managed as used oil provides more detailed information on which oily wastes qualify as used oil.

Handle used oil properly

It is your responsibility to:

  • Store used oil in safe tanks or containers and physically inspect these units regularly.
  • Keep all containers stored inside or under cover.
  • Keep containers closed, except when adding or removing used oil.
  • Handle containers safely so they do not leak or rupture.
  • Be prepared to respond to spills by stopping, containing, cleaning up, and making necessary repairs.
  • Label containers, tanks, and associated pipes "used oil."

Keep in mind that you can accept used oil from do-it-yourself (DIY) generators but you cannot accept used oil from other commercial generators.

We recommend you store used oil in areas with secondary containment. Keep DIY oil separate from your own used oil. Do not blend oils.

Check halogen content

Check the total halogen content of the used oil. If it is over 1,000 parts per million, assume it is mixed with dangerous waste and no longer passes as used oil. Do not mix anything into used oil. If you do, it may become a dangerous waste and no longer qualifies as used oil.

Hire an oil recycler

As the generator, you are responsible for proper handling and disposal of your waste, so it is important that you hire a reputable recycler.


Know how your used oil will be recycled before it leaves your site.

You may transport used oil to an aggregation point yourself as the used oil generator in batches no more than 55 gallons at a time. If you take more than 55 gallons at a time to an approved collection center, you are a transporter and must follow additional rules.

If someone else carries your oil, they must follow transporter requirements. If you take someone else's used oil to another site for refining, you must comply with the used oil transporter requirements. If the oil is not going to be recycled, only a dangerous waste transporter may carry it.

Keep records

Used oil generators are not required to keep records, but it is wise to keep an activity log of all of the following:

  • Do-it-yourself used oil you accept.
  • Test results used to determine on-specification, off-specification, or dangerous waste status of your used oil.
  • Inspections and repairs conducted on used oil storage containers, tanks, secondary containment areas, and space heaters.

Can I burn used oil in space heaters?

Generators may burn their own used oil or DIY oil in space heaters under certain conditions:

  • Do not burn waste oil, oil with more than 2 parts per million of PCBs, or metal-working oils with any amount of chlorinated compounds in the formulation.
  • Your space heater must be vented to the outside and must have a capacity of no more than 0.5 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour.