Waste oil is produced by a huge array of businesses, from mechanics to marinas, and makes up the UK’s second largest hazardous waste stream.

At the moment, the sludge and water is removed from the majority of waste oil and the resulting recovered fuel oil is burned for heat and energy.

But under the new Waste Incineration Directive, due to be implemented on December 28, companies must meet strict environmental criteria to reduce emissions and regulators believe it is unlikely that many of the current users of waste oil will be able to meet these standards.

As a result most of the oil will need to be disposed of by registered waste collectors with all the paperwork associated with hazardous waste.

While this is likely to mean a surge in work for waste management companies, it is almost certain to lead to a rise in disposal costs.

The Environment Agency has launched a new awareness campaign reminding companies, businesses and local mechanics of the tough penalties they face if they choose to ignore the new legislation.

“Local garages, lift and hydraulic businesses, small manufacturing sites, waste oil collectors, metal cutting facilities and marinas are today reminded that they must dispose of waste oils in a safe, legal and environmentally sound way,” said Richard Martin, the agency’s oil care campaign manager.

“Waste oils are hazardous to the environment and to human health, they must be managed, stored and disposed of safely.

“The illegal disposal of waste oils will not be tolerated – you will be prosecuted.”

The EA said the disposal methods favoured by cowboy operators – tipping waste oil down the drain or simply burning it – are both highly polluting and the environmental damage they cause is difficult to clear up.

Penalties for these sorts of offences can be up to £50,000, or more in a Crown Court.

“Help protect the environment by ensuring the oils you produce are managed and disposed of safely and legally by yourself and your customers,” Mr Martin told businesses.

All companies have a legal Duty of Care to make sure the waste they produce are properly disposed of, he said, and those who were already meeting this would not see much of a change with the introduction of the new regulations, apart from an increase in their disposal bills.

The EA has published a list of guidelines outlining its recommendations to producers of waste oil and the obligations they must meet.

  • Store oil securely in a container. We recommend a container with a bund that could contain 110% of the liquid in the tank. The bund should not have any drainage holes and should contain all pipework.

  • Use a registered waste carrier to collect your waste oil. You should ask to see their certificate, or call the Environment Agency on 08708 506506 and ask for a waste carrier check.

  • Waste oil is a hazardous waste. Producers of hazardous waste must register with us. Your waste contractor may be able to do this for you.

  • There are strict requirements for disposing of hazardous waste. When waste oil leaves your premises it will have to be described for consignment, using a hazardous waste consignment note.

    By Sam Bond

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