How to Choose a Hazardous Waste or Used Oil Contractor - A Help Guide


Used Oil Collection and Fuel Blending

Used oil processors accept and manage a variety of petroleum-based materials that can be treated and recycled into fuels or lubricating stocks. The processing typically involves phase filtering, separation through settling (phase separation), or heat. Processing may also involve the mixing of acids or bases and flocculants, or the use of a centrifuge to further separate oils from water or other contaminants. Used oil processing may be found as a stand alone operation, or as part of other waste management activities at a multi-purpose facility.

Used oil processors are facilities that receive used oil and oily wastes to recycle, refine, and/or recover oil under WAC 173-303-515 and 40 CFR Part 279, subpart F. These regulations allow used oil that would otherwise be considered a hazardous waste to be managed under less stringent standards.

Used oil and other materials that can be managed as used oil are picked up by collectors and transporters. The oil is brought to processing sites to be blended into fuel for pulp mills, ships, and other types of industrial boilers and furnaces, or refined back into lube stock.

Washington’s processors recover oil to blend it into fuel. There are no re-refineries in this state, although there are such facilities in existence in other states. This website lists the processors that currently conduct used oil blending activities (see List of Active Facilities).

How are used oil processors regulated?

Used oil collectors, transporters, and processors are required to notify Ecology about their activities. If the used oil management company you are interested in has not notified Ecology as a processor, the company may be a broker or “marketer,” a middleman in the used oil recycling/reuse cycle, or only a transporter or “collector” of used oil. Ecology’s “List of Active Facilities does not provide information on used oil collectors and transporters.

Used oil processors are required to determine whether a shipment contains hazardous waste, off-specification oil, or on-specification oil. For this reason used oil is usually screened with a test kit when it is picked up at the generator site, and analyzed later at the processor site.

Be cautious of facilities that require only a certification statement and that are not concerned about the nature or source of the used oil generated. A good facility will require some basic information about how your oil is generated, what types of sources it comes from, and what contaminants might exist or be introduced in the process of generating or storing the oil.

Financial assurance in the form of liability insurance and closure funding is required of used oil processors.