Waste oil can be defined as any oil that has been used, or oil that is unsuitable for its purpose. As it is a hazardous waste, waste oil disposal should be carefully considered.
Examples of waste oils typically generated include:
- Engine oil
- Hydraulic oil
- Gearbox Oil
- Diesel, Gas Oil and Kerosene
- Turbine Oil
- Aviation Fuel
- Marine Oil
As with all hazardous wastes, waste oil must be managed with the utmost caution and in line with regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations can have serious cost and legal implications for an organisation.
Safe, best practice management of waste oil can be categorised into three main areas – storage, collection, and recovery.
Waste Oil Storage
As waste oil is categorised as a hazardous substance, it’s storage on-site should be carefully considered. Bunded storage is designed to collect any product run-off, leaks or spills – protecting both employees and the environment from harm. Waste oil should always be stored in suitable bunded drums or bunded storage tanks.
Containers should be clearly labelled with all applicable hazard symbols, as well as labelled ‘waste oil’ in a large and legible form. These containers should be stored completely separately from any other storage containers or drums on site, to avoid cross-contamination.
In order to mitigate any risk to employees or the environment, it is imperative that large quantities of waste oil are not allowed to build up on-site. Regular waste oil collections should be arranged as often as is necessary.
Waste Oil Collection
All organisations must ensure that all waste oil is collected and removed by a licenced waste oil contractor. There are a limited number of licenced companies permitted to handle waste oil. Organisations that require waste oil to be collected are themselves responsible for ensuring the contractor has a relevant waste oil licence. If an organisations contracts someone to collect their waste oil who doesn’t have the appropriate permits, they are liable to prosecution.
Some organisations will request licence information when the contractor comes to collect the waste – others with more regular waste oil requirements may request it at the start of each year and hold it on file along with other records such as oil collection paperwork.
Upon collection, all waste oil contractors will be able to provide the organisation with paperwork outlining the nature of the waste that has been removed, and the volume/quantity. Waste oil removal records should be kept for a minimum of 2 years (compared to other hazardous wastes where records should be kept for a minimum of 3 years).
Waste Oil Recovery
Some waste oil contractors are committed to recovering waste oil, to re-use it as an alternative fuel. Waste oil recovery is a best practice as it significantly minimises impact on the environment. Again, this process may only be carried out by licenced operators in accordance with regulations.
Waste oil recovery is the process of retrieving substances from waste oil for reuse. Waste oil is collected, taken to laboratory and analysed to assess its suitability for reuse, before being treated in the appropriate manner to salvage whichever fuels, lubricants or metals are present in the mixture. For example, waste oil can be treated and processed to be used as a fuel for the asphalt industry and steam raising boilers.
The benefits of recovering waste oil:
Waste oil recovery is widely viewed as the best option for handling waste oil for a number of environmental and reputational reasons:
- Recovery prevents waste oil from re-entering the local ecosystem and causing damage
- The carbon footprint of recovered oil is significantly lower than crude oil
- A new recycled product is created
- Every litre of recovered oil is a litre that does not have to be taken from the ground
- Organisations who are seen to recover waste oil benefit from enhanced public perceptions
It should always be remembered that waste oil is a hazardous substance that poses a threat to both humans and the environment, and that failure to manage it appropriately could mean breaching regulations.
Enva are licensed waste oil operators with a commitment to waste oil recovery; we have recovered over 100 million litres of waste oil in the past 5 years – so you can be assured of our commitment and capabilities. To find out more, visit our waste oil recovery page.