Waste oil: good practice

It’s essential that you use good practice when you store, handle or dispose of waste oils, especially those that are classed as hazardous or special waste.

When oil becomes waste

There are many types of oil and their properties, which may have changed during use, dictate how they are classed when they become waste. Technical guidance to help you classify your waste can be found on GOV.UK.

The most common waste oils are derived from petroleum oil, sometimes known as mineral oils. But synthetic and vegetable based oils can become waste as well.

Waste oil is harmful to the environment and can cause cancer, so it needs to be managed carefully. You may need to account for Health and Safety guidance as well as the environment.

Legal requirements

There are different legal requirements depending on where and how your waste oil was produced. All waste mineral oils are deemed hazardous waste; these may have additional legislation requirements.

Household waste oils are normally produced in small quantities. Waste oil legislation doesn’t apply unless you transfer the oil from the household to a commercial company, for example if you take it to an oil recycling bank or civic amenity site, the company then becomes responsible for it’s storage and disposal.

Waste oils produced by or collected from an industrial or commercial business activity are covered by waste oil legislation for their storage, transport, and recovery or disposal.

Store waste oils separately to other wastes, this may be a legal requirement.

Safe waste oil storage

It’s essential to make sure your waste oil storage is robust and safe so your oil is less likely to cause pollution before you can dispose of it. You should check if you need to meet minimum legal standards for waste oil storage.

Keep all wastes in secure areas under lock and key and in containers that are vandal proof and safe from flood risk.

Disposal for households

If your waste oil is a lubricating oil, eg from a vehicle, make sure you put it into a container that isn’t damaged and has a secure lid. Check the Oil Bank Line web site to find your nearest waste oil bank. Never pour oil down a drain or onto the ground.

If you have waste fuel to dispose of you need to be aware of the risk of fire or explosion. Don’t try to get rid of waste fuels yourself, for example by burning or adding to a home heating oil tank. Contact your local authority or a member of the Oil Recycling Association and ask for disposal advice. It will help if you can describe as accurately as possible what the waste fuel you have is and how much you have. Is it petrol or diesel, home heating oil or maybe a mix?

If you’ve put the wrong fuel in a vehicle don’t turn the engine on, this could cause serious engine damage. Contact your local garage or motoring organisation for help and advice. Don’t try to drain fuel yourself; this is a job for professionals.

Disposal for Businesses

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There are legal requirements you must meet if you produce or store waste, collect or transport waste (carrier) or receive waste for recovery, recycling or disposal as a waste receiver (consignee).

Waste mineral oils can have value. Companies offer collection services as they can be treated to recover valuable components or, in some parts of the country, used as a fuel at authorised sites.

You should not dispose of waste oils from your business or commercial premises at a household civic amenity site.

If you are unsure about the rules that apply to your business contact your environmental regulator or the Oil Recycling Association.