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Best Practices for Waste Oil Management

Proper management of waste oil, used oil that now contains chemical or physical impurities, has never been more important. Each year, Americans use nearly 1.3 billion gallons of motor oil, but less than half is reprocessed by recyclers. Oil spills can cost businesses and municipalities at least $20,000 for cleanup and fines levied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plus state or local agencies.

Clean water is increasingly viewed as one of our most precious natural resources, yet used motor oil is the largest single source of oil pollution in our lakes, rivers and streams. It takes only one quart of oil to pollute ground or surface water sources and make 250,000 gallons of water unfit for drinking.

Removing oil from a vehicle and placing it in a bulk storage tank sounds easy, yet spills can and do occur all too often. Some spills result when waste oil is added to an already full bulk oil tank that no one knew had reached capacity.


  • Carefully drain engine oil into a barrel with a capture funnel or drain cart.
  • Use a good-quality pump, hose and control valve system to pump the waste oil from the barrel or drain cart directly into a bulk waste oil tank.
  • Always use separate containers and pump systems for waste oil and antifreeze to prevent them from being contaminated. Clearly label each.
  • Use an automatic tank level monitoring system to prevent the bulk waste oil tank from reaching capacity and possibly overflowing. Look for a pump system that automatically shuts off when the tank is full to prevent overflow accidents.
  • Be prepared for a potential waste oil spill by having sorbent materials on hand to promptly contain and clean up any spills that occur.
  • Train employees and communicate the importance of safe waste oil handling best practices to help prevent oil spills and ensure a safer work environment.

It’s more important than ever to carefully capture and properly transport every drop of waste oil in fleet maintenance facilities. The consequences of not doing so are steep fines, polluted surface and ground water, and potentially a damaged reputation for the company or municipality involved in an oil spill.

If you have questions or need more information on pumps, drain carts or bulk waste oil tank monitoring systems, please contact us.