July 7, 2015

EPA Clarifies Used Oil May Include Bio-Additives

The definition of used oil in §279.1 is “any oil that has been refined from crude oil, or any synthetic oil, that has been used and as a result of such use is contaminated by physical or chemical impurities.” However, EPA guidance notes used vegetable and animal oils do not meet this definition because they are not synthetic or derived from crude oil. [RO 14018, 14090]

In 2014, a bill introduced into the California legislature would have required lubricants be formulated with a certain percentage of bio-content. Based on the federal definition of used oil and clarifying guidance discussed above, the California used oil management industry was concerned that used lubricants containing bio-content could never qualify for used oil management but would require handling as solid and potentially hazardous waste.

EPA’s response to this concern [RO 14849] clarifies the definition of used oil does not preclude the use of bio-additives in lubricating oils. “We believe that such formulations, once used, could be regulated as used oil under Part 279....” The agency also noted in this guidance that, although used vegetable and animal oils derived solely from plant or animal sources would still not qualify as used oil, a mixture of used vegetable or animal oil with used oil could be regulated under the Part 279 used oil management standards if the mixture met the mixing criteria of §279.10(b–c).


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