Federal laws/regulations; Other States laws/regulations; Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report

March 7, 2000





By: Matthew Ranelli; Associate Attorney

You asked whether there are programs for do-it-yourself oil changers to properly dispose of their used motor oil. How do other New England states handle it?


All New England states have programs to encourage “do-it-yourself-oil-changers” (DIYs) to properly dispose of their used oil. The main feature of all the programs is providing at least a municipal used oil collection center (a drop off center). At least four of the states, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, provide grants or other financial incentives for towns to set up drop centers. All of the states allow garages to accept and burn DIY oil for heat.

Only Massachusetts requires retailers to accept used oil from their customers.

Federal regulations establish minimum standards for DIY collection centers (40 CFR 279.30).


Connecticut law requires used motor oil to be collected for reuse or recycling (Ct. Regs. 22a-241b-2). When this requirement was first established, the state offered grants to towns to establish drop points for DIYs to bring their used oil. According to Tom Metzner of the DEP, almost all towns received grants and set up a drop point at either the town garage or transfer station. In addition to town drop points, local garages and other entities may also set up a drop point with a DEP permit. Depending on the nature of the entity setting up a drop point, they may be able to incorporate the used oil collection component into their existing permits. If not, generally they must apply for a drop site general permit. The cost may vary; generally the permit fee is $100.

According to Metzner many garages and several auto parts chains accept motor oil from DIYs. The garages may burn the oil for heat in the garage under certain conditions.


Massachusetts regulates used motor oil as a hazardous waste, but exempts DIY from the regulations. Massachusetts's law requires retailers licensed to sell motor oil to accept used motor oil from their customers (Mass. Gen. L. Ch. 21 53a attachment 1). Once the used oil is transferred from a DIY to the retailer, it falls under the hazardous waste regulations.

The state offers a grant program to municipalities interested in setting up used oil drop off centers. Approximately 151 of 351 municipalities have set up drop centers. According to the Massachusetts DEP the municipal drop center is the most successful way to recover used motor oil.

Garages may also voluntarily accept used motor oil from DIYs. Garages may apply for a permit to burn the oil they generate and collect form DIYs for heat.


Maine operates a voluntary program. The state encourages used oil recycling by providing incentives to establish oil drop centers to collect oil from DIYs. The state offers low interest loans to purchase above ground tanks to receive oil to towns or businesses that agree to establish a center. The state also assists towns that have drop points in the event that they receive a load of oil that turns out to be hazardous. Faculties that agree to accept DIY oil must register with the DEP to be eligible for the benefits (Me. Rev. Stat. tit 38 1319-Y, attachment 2).

The Maine DEP annually canvas garages and towns and asks them to accept DIY oil. They allow collection centers to burn the oil to heat the facility.


New Hampshire does not require retailers to take back used oil, but it does impose a two-cent surcharge on each gallon of gas to help fund a recovery system (N.H. Stat. 147:B12, attachment 3). The surcharge is deposited in the states Hazardous Waste Clean Up fund and is set aside to provide grants to towns to set up municipal collection centers. According to the New Hampshire DEP 134 of 234 towns have drop points. The grants are limited to $2500.

New Hampshire also allows garages to voluntarily accept DIY used motor oil and to burn it along with garage generated used oil for heat.


Rhode Island encourages residents to properly dispose of their used motor oil using educational materials. The state does not require garages or retailers to accept it and does not offer grants to towns to set up drop points. According to the Rhode Island DEP most towns have “oil igloos” at their transfer stations or town garages to accept DIYs oil.