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ECAR Fact Sheet for New York
Used Oil

(includes transmission & brake fluid) 


Management of Used Oil

Used oil must be managed properly to protect the environment. It can be burned as a fuel, recycled or discarded. If it is burned off or recycled and not mixed with other materials, it is NOT considered hazardous waste. If it is disposed of/discarded, however, it must be managed as hazardous waste (see HW regulations at http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/40cfr262_03.html).

Definitions of Used Oil


Federal Regulations/Information

EPA Used Oil Regulations

EPA's Fact Sheet on Managing Used Oil

EPA's Hazardous Waste Regulations

Managing Used Oil: Advice for Small Businesses

Oil Pollution Prevention Regulation Overview

Finalized Amendments to the Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Rules

State Environmental Department/Recycling Association Fact Sheets/Manuals

New York Conservation Rules and Regulations on Used Oil Management (NYCRR 360)

Mandatory Annual Report for Vehicle Dismantlers

Summary of Laws, Rules and Regulations Relating to Automobile Recycling

Burning Used Oil
6 NYCRR Subpart 225-2


For general questions, contact DEC Solid and Hazardous Materials Program at

For information on registration of petroleum storage tanks, contact 518-402-9543.

Used Oil
In addition to the automobile crankcase oil that is traditionally referred to as "used oil", the term "used oil" includes nearly any of the petroleum based or synthetic substances that are used for lubrication, heat transfer, or hydraulic fluid. ((Title 40 of the US Code of Regulations (CFR), part 279 – commonly referred to 40CFR279)) http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title40/40cfr279_main_02.tpl

Following is a chart from EPA's page on used oil recycling that lists what is and what is not considered used oil. http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/usedoil/usedoil.htm

Table of What Used Oil Is and Is Not

Oil Storage

Used Oil Is:

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 equipment.

Transmission fluid.

Refrigeration oil (not MAC governed).

Compressor oils.

Metalworking fluids and oils.

Laminating oils.

Industrial hydraulic fluid.

Copper and aluminum wire drawing solution.

Electrical insulating oil.

Industrial process oils.

Oils used as buoyants.

Used Oil Is 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 lubricant.

Petroleum distillates used as solvents.

Oils that do not meet EPA's definition of used oil can still pose a threat to the environment when disposed of and could be subject to the RCRA regulations for hazardous waste management.

Other Examples of used oil:

  • Brake fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Bearing oil
  • Gear oil
  • Grease
  • Isolation oils
  • Rolling oil
  • Cutting oil

Used Oil Generator
Any person, by site, whose act or process produces used oil or whose act first causes used oil to become subject to regulation is defined as a generator. Generators may also be considered used oil fuel marketers if they direct a shipment of off-specification used oil from their facility to a used oil burner.

The following actions, if performed on-site by generators, are not considered to be used oil process operations, and are not regulated:

1) filtering, cleaning or reconditioning used oil prior to reuse; and,
2) separating used oil from waste water.

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. 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.

Management Options for Used Oil

  1. Burning Used Oil as Fuel

    • Only the generator's or do it yourselfer (persons who change their own oil) used oil is allowed to be burned.

    • Burn used oil in used oil-fired furnaces that have a maximum capacity of not more than 0.5 million (500,000) Btu per hour and ensure that the combustion gases from the heater are vented to the ambient air.

    • Check with your state or local air quality division to inquire about air quality requirements, and check with state building code personnel to inquire about building codes for the installation and use of the burner.

  2. Preparing Used Oil for Transport to be Recycled/Disposed
    • Store used oil in closed containers or tanks in good condition.

    • Label all storage containers as "Used Oil" that can be see up to 25 feet away.

    • Use a transporter with an EPA identification number to ship used oil off site.

    • Under certain conditions, generators may transport small quantities of used oil (less than 55-gallons at one time, in sealed containers, in an enclosed portion of the vehicle).

Restrictions on Used Oil Disposal/Management

  1. Do not discharge used oil to sewers, drainage ditches, septic tanks, or streams.
  2. Do not dispose of used oil in landfills or mix used oil with wastes that will be disposed of in landfills (include individual state regulation link)
  3. Do not mix used oil with gasoline or cleaning solvents.  The resulting mixture may be a hazardous waste.  This classification brings into effect a lot of additional regulations.
  4. Do not use used oil for road oiling, dust control, weed control or for similar purposes.

Used Oil Spill Prevention

  1. Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs) must have in place spill prevention controls to prevent overfilling or overtopping, and procedures that require employees to check oil tank levels by observation or remote sensors. In addition:
    • All ASTs should have a secondary containment area that contains spills and allows leaks to be more easily detected.
    • The containment area surrounding the tank should hold 110 percent of the contents of the largest tank plus freeboard for precipitation.
    • Secondary containment for ASTs must be impermeable to the materials being stored.
    • Routinely monitor ASTs to ensure they are not leaking.

    For more information, see: http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/lawsregs/opprover.htm

  2. Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan. A facility is subject to the SPCC Rule, if it is:
    • non-transportation-related; and,
    • has an aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons for all petroleum products or a completely buried storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons.

For more information, see: http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc/index.htm

Categories of Used Oil Handlers

Those who fall under the definitions of the following four categories MUST maintain records documenting the acceptance and delivery of each used oil shipment for three years. There are no such tracking and recordkeeping requirements for generators of used oil who do NOT fall under the following categories.

  • Used Oil Transporters
    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.
  • Used Oil Re-refiners and Processors
    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.
  • Used Oil Burners
    Burn used oil for energy recovery in boilers, industrial furnaces, or in hazardous waste incinerators. Burners of used oil that meet a certain set of quality standards called the used oil specifications (Table 1 of 40 CFR §279.11) are not regulated under the used oil management standards, as long as the used oil is burned in appropriate boilers, furnaces, or incinerators.
  • Used Oil Marketers
    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. See http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2005/julqtr/40cfr279.11.htm.

Used oil marketers must determine if used oil burned for energy recovery meets the specifications outlined in Table 1 of 40 CFR §279.11. Provided that the marketer complies with the notification and recordkeeping requirements of Part 279, Subpart H, used oil meeting the specification levels of Table 1 may be marketed as an onspecification fuel. The specifications include maximum concentrations for four metals: arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and lead.

Check your state used oil regulations for guidance on who must test for used oil specification status.
For more information see definitions at: www.epa.gov/epawaste/laws-regs/regs-haz.htm

Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Used Oil


  • Do not contaminate used oil with even small amounts of gasoline, brake cleaner, carburetor cleaner, or other solvents. Even small amounts of solvents turn recyclable oil into a hazardous waste.
  • Keep storage containers closed when not actively adding or removing material.
  • When storing drums keep an aisle space between drums to allow for inspection for leaks and damage.
  • Install secondary containment to prevent the release of used oil to the environment.

Spill Management

  • Try to prevent spills when dismantling vehicles. If spills do occur, contain the oil by erecting sorbent berms or by spreading a sorbent over the oil.
  • 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.
  • 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). For more information see: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/usedoil/usedoil.htm


The following fact sheet was prepared by the ECAR Center staff. Once prepared, each ECAR Center fact sheet undergoes a review process with the applicable state environmental agency(ies). You can check on the status of the review process here. Please read the disclaimer on the status page. While we have tried to present a summary of the essential information on this topic, you should be aware that other items, such as local regulations, may apply to you.


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