A Guide to Waste Oil Recycling and Disposal – From Collection to Conversion

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Proper waste oil disposal, also referred to as waste lubricant oil, is crucial in protecting the environment from potential hazards. 

This guide delves into the environmental impacts its collection and disposal, the regulations and expenses associated, as opposed to waste oil recycling and the possibilities of converting it into a fuel source. 

Ultimately, this article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the various aspects of waste oil management, replying to the most frequently asked questions about the potential environmental and economical advantages of its recycling and its various industrial and commercial applications. 

A post by Alice Frassin

Table of Contents

The Environmental Risks of Waste Oil Disposal: What You Need to Know

What is the definition of waste oil, to begin with?

Although used cooking oil is typically included in the term “waste oil”, in this context we are solely referring to the byproducts of the industrial and automotive industry which can come in various forms, such as used motor oil, hydraulic fluids, transmission fluids, and other lubricating oils.

These oils usually contain heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and other toxic and carcinogenic compounds. When not properly disposed of, they eventually find their way into the environment through spills or leaks and become a highly alarming problem for human health and wildlife.

Burning waste oil, for instance, can cause the discharge of air-polluting gases such sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.

It can spread out and cover a large region if it gets to our oceans, stifling fish and other aquatic life and making it hard for plants and animals to survive.

Waste oil can also degrade the quality of water that is accessible for drinking and irrigation through groundwater and surface water contamination, making it challenging for industries that depend on clean water, such agriculture and power generation.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 200 million gallons of used oil are produced annually in the United States alone, raising worries about the amounts involved.

Waste Oil Disposal and Collection: Regulations, Cost, and Value


Collecting waste oil, as well as its disposal, are controlled by strict regulations that can be different depending on country and region, put in place to ensure proper practices and to prevent negative environmental impact and protect human health. Failure to comply with them can result in fines and penalties.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for instance, regulates the collection, transportation, and disposal of waste oil in the United States, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This also includes requirements for proper labeling and storage as well as guidelines for its recycling or disposal in approved facilities.

In the European Union, the Waste Framework Directive sets waste oil disposal regulations for its proper and environmentally friendly management. 

Other countries also have their own laws and rules in place, but the specifics can vary widely. In general, once it is generated, waste oil has different ways to end its journey.

Sales Price

If the intention is to sell the waste oil to the market, how much is waste oil worth?

Its cost can differ depending on several factors: in general, it is typically lower than that of virgin oil due to its lower quality and impurities. Prices can range from a few euros or dollars per tonne to around 200 euros or dollars per tonne.

Some of the factors that can affect the market price of waste oil include logistics (location and transportation), method of disposal, demand, supply, local markets availability, the cost of processing and refining and, additionally, higher or lower taxes.

Disposal Cost

In the same way that some companies might be able to sell their used oil, others might have to sustain disposal expenses. So what is the cost of waste oil disposal? This can also vary depending on the type of waste oil, the location of the facility, and the regulations in place. 

Many companies choose to pay for the oil to be collected and taken to a specialized infrastructure for recycling or proper disposal, oftentimes required by law to do so, as it is very common that fines or penalties for improper disposal are put in place. 

In general, the cost of disposal can be significant, especially for large companies with high volumes of waste oil.

Sales price, disposal cost and other expenses related to waste management can change depending on the country you are living in. For this reason, we always suggest contacting a local waste oil supplier or a recycling company for an estimate. 

From what has been explained so far, selling used oil is one of the ways to generate income, but it is not always practical or accessible for every business.

In that case, waste oil can also be profitable if recycled and reused, as it can be turned into valuable and sustainable resources. This way, the demand for virgin oil is lower and the negative environmental impact of oil production and consumption is reduced.


How can waste oil recycling add value? Can you make money recycling oil?

Larger companies that generate high quantities of waste oil can benefit from on-site recycling. This saves on disposal and logistics costs while creating a revenue stream when the recycled oil is sold on the market.

Smaller companies can also recycle their waste oil by working with companies that specialize in oil recycling, collecting the waste, transporting it to a recycling facility and handling the process.

From Waste to Fuel: How to Turn Waste Oil into Diesel

One of the most common concerns in the used oil processing industry is conversion to diesel and how to filter waste oil for fuel.

The process of turning used oil into fuel is known as waste oil refining or recycling. It involves several steps, including testing, cleaning and refining to remove impurities and make it suitable for use as a fuel source.

Not all types of used oil suit this purpose, as they are often a mixture of different oils. Consider the waste oil you are generating before determining the most profitable recycling option: it is always a good idea to analyze it first.

Here is a little guide to understand and decide if your specific waste oil should be recycled:


Once these pre-qualification steps have been completed, here are the main points of how the process itself will look like:

  1. Testing: Since the input oil can vary from time to time, the first step in the process is to analyze its quality and physical and chemical properties such as viscosity, acidity and water content. Test results are used to determine proper cleaning and refining processes and to determine suitability for use as fuel.

  2. Parameters Adaptation: Depending on the analysis results, process parameters are adjusted to ensure that the waste oil is suitable. This includes adjusting temperature, pressure and other parameters to remove contaminants or make the oil more stable.

  3. Cleaning: The next step involves cleaning the oil to remove contaminants such as dirt, debris and water, which could affect the quality of the fuel produced. This can be done using various methods such as centrifugation, filtration and distillation.

  4. Refining: The oil is then distilled into different fractions such as gasoline, diesel and heavy oil. The fractions are then further refined to remove impurities, improve fuel quality and ensure that the product meets industry standards.

  5. Storing: After refining, the fuel is stored in appropriate containers and in appropriate conditions to ensure its quality and stability.

  6. Logistic optimization: The final step includes finding the most efficient and cost-effective way to transport and distribute the fuel to end users. It is necessary to evaluate different transport modes (such as trucking and delivery) as well as identify the best delivery routes based on distance, frequency, and amount of fuel required. Additionally, proper fuel storage and handling requirements is critical to maintain the quality and the stability of the fuel.

Waste oil re-refining is a sustainable and profitable solution, as it not only reduces waste by repurposing used oil but also creates a valuable fuel source.

The process might be quite costly, therefore it is important for companies to carefully evaluate all the options available to sustainably dispose of or recycle their waste oil. For companies that generate large amounts of waste oil and can afford the process, it can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution.

Is Recycling Waste Oil Profitable? The Economical Benefits Explained

Recycling waste oil is a cost-effective solution that can provide a number of economic benefits for businesses and industries that generate large amounts of waste oil.
Saving on Disposal Costs

One of the primary benefits is cost savings on disposal. As already explained, the cost of disposing of waste oil can be substantial, especially for companies that generate large amounts. 

Recycling the oil would significantly reduce these costs.

Selling the Refined Oil

Another advantage is the potential for revenue through the sale of recycled oil.

Once the oil has been cleaned and refined, it can be sold to be used as a fuel source or as a raw material in other industries, providing a new source of income.

CO2 Emissions Subsidies

Because waste oil recycling can have a positive impact on reducing CO2 emissions, some governments and organizations offer subsidies or financial incentives to companies and businesses that invest in waste oil recycling to help reduce CO2 emissions.

Tax breaks, grants, or low-interest loans are just a few of the ways to help cover the costs of setting up and operating a recycling facility.

The carbon credits generated by reducing CO2 emissions through waste oil recycling can also be sold and bought through carbon offset programs, often implemented in many countries.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Recycling waste can also give the chance to businesses and industries to rightfully comply with local laws, through which they can demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection, while saving money on those salty fines and penalties.

Putting Waste Oil to Use: Applications in Tank Cleaning, Marine Sludge and More

Waste oil recycling has a wide range of applications, from industrial to commercial use.
Tank Cleaning

One of the most common uses is in tank cleaning. Tanks used to store oil, fuel, and other liquids can accumulate dirt, debris, and other contaminants over time, which affects the quality of the stored product and complicates tank cleaning.

The incorrect disposal of those residues can cause operational problems in the long run and immediate negative environmental impact such as soil, water and air contamination.

Recycling the byproduct built up allows a more eco-friendly and cost-saving management of tank cleaning, reducing disposal cost and turning waste diesel and hearing oil into green fuels

Marine Sludge

Another application of oil recycling is in the treatment of marine sludge.
Marine sludge is a mixture of oil, water and sediments generated by the industrial shipping activities, usually accumulating during the normal operation of ships.

These residues can contain various contaminants such as heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and are normally first dumped into a mud tank and finally landed or incinerated, a time consuming and not cost effective disposal practice.

Marine sludge can be highly hazardous for the environment, which is why it is important to properly handle it. Through recycling, it can be freed from the contaminants and turned into in-spec reusable fuels.


Biofabrik’s WASTX Oil was developed to help solve many of these problems.

The innovative recycling technology is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to recycle waste oil and give it value in a variety of ways, directly where it is generated.

This process typically involves a series of steps such as filtration, distillation and refining, providing an effective way to recycle and reuse waste oil instead of throwing it away, reducing costs and environmental impact.


Discover more about the WASTX Oil technology

Turn your waste into opportunity

In conclusion, proper waste oil management is essential for protecting the environment and balancing economic considerations.

Adequate disposal practices, in conjunction with investment in technology, enable the recycling and conversion of waste oil into a valuable fuel source, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and mitigating environmental impacts.

A comprehensive understanding of the advantages and risks associated with waste oil management is key to ensuring its safe and responsible handling for the benefit of all stakeholders.