Every campus generates used oil from a variety of processes including vehicles, maintenance equipment and facilities management. Used oil includes motor oil, grease, cooling and heating media, brake, transmission and hydraulic fluid, electrical insulating oil, metalworking fluids and refrigeration oils. Used oil has value as a recycled commodity but can also pose substantial threat to the environment if not properly managed.

Regulatory citations

Used oil is regulated under the provisions of NR 679 . Provisions of Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) also apply. If you store used oil in a storage tank, the provisions of SPS 310 apply as well.

Employee training

Although NR 679 has no specific requirements for training campus oil handlers, it is imperative they be trained in the provisions of the regulations and in proper spill response should a release occur. This training may be provided in-house or in part by attending the annual hazardous materials awareness training provided through the state hazardous waste contract. Initial and annual SPCC training applies to facilities covered under that rule.

General requirements

Used oil generators and handlers must:

  • Store used oil in containers or tanks that are in good condition and not leaking
  • Label containers and tanks with the words “Used Oil”. No other words are acceptable (e.g., Waste oil)
  • Stop, contain and clean any spills. Properly manage used spill equipment. Repair or replace container or tank before return to service
  • Use a licensed transporter who has an EPA ID number.

A generator may self-transport only used oil generated on-site. The oil must be transported in a campus vehicle, in no more than 55 gallon shipments, to a collection center or aggregation point.

Used oil cannot be mixed with hazardous waste or any other liquids such as cleaning solvents or refrigerant oils. Campuses should not burn used oil or deliver oil to others to burn. Burning oil can affect a campus’s air permit. Campuses should contract with reputable, licensed, adequately-insured oil recyclers.

Oil picks up contaminants as it moves through the lubricating, hydraulic or transformer processes and may contain chromium, cadmium, naphthalene, chlorinated hydrocarbons or benzene. Hazardous waste requirements may apply if the used oil contains greater than 1,000 ppm total halogens or if the used oil has been mixed with a listed hazardous waste. Used oil that is regulated as hazardous waste must be managed according to the hazardous waste rules in chs. NR 660 to 670; the ch. NR 679 used oil standards do not apply. Additional requirements may apply to oil contaminated with CFCs or PCBs


This publication was prepared for environmental, health and safety staff at University of Wisconsin System campuses, to assist in finding resources and information for regulatory compliance. It is not intended to render legal advice.

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