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Used Oil Collection Sites

The Pennsylvania DEP and Bureau of Waste Management are encouraging government agencies and businesses that change motor oil to volunteer to serve as used oil collection sites (uocs). A uocs is a place where private citizens and do-it-yourselfers (diy) can drop off used motor oil in an appropriately designed drum or tank. The collection center should be well marked to ensure that it is used for only uncontaminated lubricating oil and it should be serviced regularly by a used oil transporter to make sure there is always room for more oil.

Benefits to a Business serving as a Collection Site include:

  • Participation should increase consumer traffic at the establishment and can therefore boost business. The collection site will become part of the statewide network and will be entered into the database which is accessible through the toll free recycling hotline phone at 1 (800) 346-4242. Anyone can call this number to locate the nearest uocs. Furthermore, the collection center can receive free advertising as a public used oil collection site. This will be beneficial as customers who believe in giving their gasoline, oil, auto service, or other business to environmentally sensitive/green care companies will prefer your company over others who are non-participants.
  • Participation can increase customer good will. The firm's name may be listed and distributed throughout the county and state as an example of a good business practice in which the operator is cooperating to protect the environment by collecting and recycling used oil. The business can receive the positive public relations value of helping to be a part of the solution to pollution in Pennsylvania. This may be more of a value than the firm might expect, because the cost of a lost or dissatisfied customer may never be fully known or appreciated.
  • Participation helps fight pollution and conserves a valuable natural resource. Pennsylvania leads the nation when it comes to the number of community based recycling programs operating, keeping many tons of materials out of landfills. This recycling effort serves a very critical need, that of keeping used oil from contaminating waters that may serve as drinking supplies. This helps to ensure clean drinking water for generations to come. Recycling used oil can also significantly decrease the amount of damage done to natural habitats such as wetlands and waterways. This, in turn, ensures the preservation of wildlife and sport fishing areas.
  • Participation may bring about a small source of revenue from the sale of used oil whenever the used oil collectors and transporters may be paying to pick up used oil. Should the cost of virgin oil increase, paying for used oil will increase. Additionally, the commonwealth encourages used oil recycling into re-refined lube oil through offering a 5 percent price preference when reviewing bids for lube oil purchases for state use.
  • An executive federal order sets guidelines for federal agencies to favor environmentally preferable products in purchasing including re-refined lube oil.
  • Enjoy exemption from spill response costs or damages that might result from any release or threatened release of recycled oil under the coverage of Act 108 of 1988. The service station operator may presume that a small quantity of used oil is not mixed with other hazardous substances when it has been removed from the engine of a motor vehicle by the owner of the vehicle and is presented to the operator for collection, accumulation and delivery to an oil recycling facility.

Responsibilities of Managing a Used Oil Collection Site:

  1. Displaying a sign indicating that the location is a used oil collection site;
  2. Providing a suitable collection container easily accessible to the public;
  3. Inspecting the collection site on a daily basis;
  4. Making arrangements with a reliable transporter to pick up the oil for recycling and proper management;
  5. Installing safeguards to prevent the deposit of hazardous, incompatible, or other materials that could contaminate the used oil; to prevent fire hazards; and to control and respond to spills or releases; and
  6. Maintaining records of how much oil is collected from the public, who collects the oil and its disposition; filing of the necessary forms with DEP.

Spill Avoidance and Emergency Response

For spill avoidance it is recommended that the above ground tanks provided to collect used oil be placed on impervious curbed surfaces designed to contain any release of oil. In the event of an accidental oil spill, a used oil collection center owner or operator must do the following:

  1. Attempt to stop the source of the spill and begin setting up initial containment procedures. The presence of an impervious liner underneath the collection and/or storage tank may allow much of the spilled oil to be contained and recovered. Containment may also be initiated by using absorption products such as Oil Dry or a form of pet litter. If a small amount of oil should spill on the ground, it is advised to remove the affected soil by digging up until there is no more oil present. The contaminated earth and oil mixture should be shoveled into a container or sack. Provided that there is no contamination with hazardous materials the nearby landfill should be able to accept the material for disposal.
  2. Without hesitation contact the Department's emergency 24 hour telephone number (717) 787-4343 if the amount of oil spilled exceeds 25 gallons.
  3. Contact the Regional DEP office which has responsibility for your county and report the spill. The Department would benefit from notification of smaller spills even though 25 gallon spills and above are mandatory.
  4. Follow technical guidelines in applying emergency cleanup measures.


Your facility is welcomed as a used oil collection site. To register complete the department's one page Used Oil Collection Site Registration Form and submit it to your County Recycling Coordinator or by e-mail to recyclepa. To request additional information or to have a technician contact you concerning used oil recovery, call and place your request on the department's Recycling hot line, 1 800 346-4242.

For more information or to register as a collection site to accept used motor oil feel free to write to:

Used Oil Recovery Coordinator
Bureau of Waste Management
Department of Environmental Protection
Rachel Carson State Office Building
P.O. Box 8472
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8472