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Waste oil

EU rules aim to ensure that waste oils are correctly managed, to avoid contaminating the environment and to take advantage of its high recovery potential.


Many engines and mechanisms need lubricant oils to function. Around half of all purchased lubricant oil will ultimately become waste oil. The rest is lost during use, or through leakage.

Waste oils are considered hazardous waste and have some dangerous properties. One litre of waste oil can contaminate one million litres of water. Waste oils in rivers, lakes and streams threaten aquatic life. Also, if waste oils are left on the ground, they can severely contaminate soil.

Everyone, including industries, consumers, and garages have an essential role to play in the recovery of waste oil. They must make sure to hand waste oil over to authorised collectors and avoid dumping it at all costs.


The Waste Framework Directive requires EU countries to take measures to

  • treat waste oils in accordance with the waste hierarchy to protect human health and the environment 
  • ensure waste oils are collected separately
  • ensure that waste oils with different characteristics are not mixed, and that waste oils are not mixed with other kinds of waste or substances that would impede their treatment 


In 2018, a review on the implementation of EU waste legislation was published, including waste oils.


Key dates related to EU rules on waste oils

  1. 31 December 2022
    Deadline for submission of a legislative proposal on measures for the treatment of waste oils, if appropriate
  2. 12 December 2010
    Entry into force of Waste Framework Directive, including provisions on waste oils
  3. 12 December 2010
    Former Waste Oil Directive repealed
  4. 18 June 1975
    Former Waste Oil Directive enters into force

Related links

Main law: Waste Framework Directive

Entry into force:  12 December 2008

Related topics: Circular economy Waste and recycling

Related strategies: Circular economy action plan

Related Commission priorities: European Green Deal


For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.