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Used Oil

Used oil includes any petroleum-based or synthetic oil that has been used, and therefore contaminated by physical or chemical impurities. Used oils may include lubricants, hydraulic fluids, and heat transfer fluids such as engine oil, sludge from used oil tanks, transmission fluid, refrigeration oil, compressor oil, or electrical insulating oils. Oil wastes originating from virgin (unused) oil, oils used solely for their solvent properties, and animal and vegetable oils are not regulated as used oils.

One gallon of oil can contaminate up to one million gallons of water. The effect of oil on organisms can include genetic damage, structural deformities, and reproductive failure. However, used oil can be a valuable resource when it is properly managed to avoid release to the environment and recycled for its lubricant or fuel value.

Used oil could be considered hazardous waste based on its characteristics, but it is regulated separately. IDEM’s used oil rule is in Indiana Administrative Code 329 IAC 13. Federal standards are in 40 CFR 279. This rule applies to used oils that are destined for recycling. Generators of used oil are not required to notify OLQ, and it is not tracked on a hazardous waste manifest. However, a site that conducts any of the following activities is required to register as a Used Oil Handler:

  • Transporting used oil
  • Operating a used oil transfer facility
  • Processing and/or re-refining used oil
  • Burning off-specification (off-spec) used oil fuel
  • Marketing off-spec used oil directly to a burner

If used oil is discarded, then it will be regulated under the solid waste or hazardous waste program. A generator of used oil wanting to dispose of it must first determine whether it is a hazardous waste, and then dispose properly.

The use of used oil as a dust suppressant or storing in surface impoundments is prohibited. OLQ has prepared a used oil guidance document [PDF] to help companies comply with Indiana’s used oil rule.


Indiana Rule 329 IAC 13-7-8 requires used oil processors or re-refiners to submit a report every other year which describes their used oil activities for the preceding year. This report is due on March 1 of every even numbered year for the activities conducted during the previous odd numbered year. If you have any questions about this report you may contact the Office of Land Quality.

The Used Oil Management Report form is available on the IDEM Forms page, under the Office of Land Quality, Hazardous Waste.


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