Salvage Yards

Salvage yards are an important part of the economy. They provide a valuable service, helping recycle what can be recycled and dispose of what cannot.

Disclaimer: The information below is intended to serve as a guide to responsible waste management and does not supersede Delaware’s Regulations Governing Hazardous Waste (7 DE Admin. Code 1302).

The Salvage Yard Manual

Numerous activities take place at salvage yards every day from reusing parts, to storage, recycling of material, metal fabricating, equipment maintenance and much more. Salvage operations also produce or generate waste that requires disposal.

The Salvage Yard Manual provides guidance for handling or recycling waste fluids, scrap metal, machinery, equipment, and vehicles.

Used Oil

Many businesses such as auto repair shops, salvage yards, and related businesses find themselves with used oil and oil filters. These can and should be recycled.

Used oil contains contaminants such as arsenic, cadmium, benzene, lead, magnesium, zinc, and chlorinated compounds, which may be harmful to the environment. Used oil also provides a very good source of energy. Discarding used oil into the environment not only causes environmental pollution but wastes energy as well.

Used oil must be stored in tanks or containers that are in good condition (e.g., no severe rusting, structural defects or deterioration), not leaking and marked clearly with the words “Used Oil.”

The tanks or containers must be closed during storage, except to add or remove oil. Any aboveground storage tank greater than 250 gallons or underground storage tank greater than 110 gallons must be registered with the Tanks Compliance Section. Contact Tanks Compliance at 302-395-2500 for more information.

In the event of a spill or other incident that results in a release of used oil into the environment, the generator must immediately stop the release, contain the released used oil, and clean up any released used oil or used oil contaminated materials.

Oil Filter Recycling

Used oil filters are made of steel, one of North America’s most recycled material and can be easily recycled into new steel products.

An oil filter that contains or is contaminated with used oil is considered used oil and must be managed under the used oil regulations in Part 279. However, if the used oil is hot-drained or removed from the filter (e.g., by crushing) it is no longer regulated as used oil provided no visible signs of free-flowing oil remain. The used oil filter can then be managed as scrap metal. The used oil that is drained or remove from the material remains subject to used oil regulations.

There are several companies that can provide disposal of used oil and used oil filters from businesses in Delaware. For a list of permitted Delaware used oil transporters, please contact the Compliance and Permitting Section.

Homeowners can take used oil and used oil filters to a nearby DSWA Drop-off Center that accepts them.

Mercury Switches

Scrapped vehicles are typically stripped, crushed, shredded, and then smelted to make new steel products. Vehicles manufactured prior to 2003 commonly used mercury switches for anti-lock braking systems and for lighting in hoods and trunks. If done improperly, vehicle scrapping can result in accidental release of mercury into the environment and pose a serious risk to human health unless mercury switches are properly removed and disposed of.

The National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program (NVMSRP) is an agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Iron and Steel Institute, Automotive Recycler’s Association, and other institutions to facilitate the responsible removal and recovery of mercury switches from scrap vehicles before they are shredded for recycling. This agreement is in effect until December 31, 2021. Participation is available for all interested parties, with focus on recovery switches from vehicle salvage/scrap yards.

To enroll in the NVMSRP, submit an online application at or call End Life of Vehicle Solutions at 877-225-ELVS. Once enrolled, you will receive a bucket with pre-paid postage for return. To receive a replacement bucket, contact US Ecology at 800-495-6059 or