Motor Oil Recycling

How to Recycle or Dispose of Used Motor Oil and Filters

Used oil is any petroleum-based or synthetic oil that has been used in an engine such as your car, boat, motorcycle, or even snowmobile. If you change your own oil in your car or even your lawnmower or chainsaw, you may be stuck with old oil and wondering what to do with it. You’ll need to get rid of it properly, it cannot be tossed in your regular curbside trash receptacle. Below we will discuss a couple of options for how to dispose of both old filters and used motor oil.

Places to Recycle Used Oil and Used Oil Filters

There are some pretty convenient locations to take in your old car oil that will carefully and safely dispose of it. Most locations will be able to recycle it which is an even better choice. Just make sure that your old used oil is kept separate from other fluids, it cannot be recycled if contaminated with antifreeze or brake fluid.

Where to recycle motor oil near me?

There are used motor oil recycling centers or used oil dropoff locations. Recycling centers may actually pay you for used noncontaminated oil, while dropoff locations are usually retailers that can collect it from you for free and handle disposal or recycling.

Walmart, for example, has a used oil dropoff system in place. Other disposal locations with free oil recycling include Autozone and O’Reilly auto parts stores. Neither Autozone nor O’Reilly stores charge for recycling your used oil. They also offer free recycling of old car batteries and oil filters. Walmart, Autozone, O’Reilly’s, Advanced Auto Parts, and Jiffy Lube all accept used car oil among other car products for recycling. Odds are that whichever auto parts store is in your area accepts used oil, but you can first call to be sure.

Car oil recycling centers are often referred to as ABOP Collection Facilities. ABOP stands for anti-freeze, batteries, oil, and paint. ABOP collection facilities can be found by searching your city or county’s waste disposal website or calling them directly. These facilities are often the same as your local drop off point for all household hazardous wastes. They are equipped to properly store and recycle many types of household waste that cannot be thrown away curbside.

Why Should I Recycle Used Motor Oil and Filters?

First of all, used engine oil recycling is the law in most cities and states, and for good reason. Automobile engine oil is hazardous. The EPA states that the used auto oil from just one DIY oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of water if dumped down a storm drain. The used oil in your vehicle gets dirty, but it can be filtered and refined to be used again and again. Another reason is that it uses more energy to create new oil from crude oil, so refining and reusing old oil saves energy. It is a valuable resource and its lubricating properties never wear out, it simply gets dirty.

Oil Recycling Facts

● 38 States and the District of Colombia have banned oil from landfills.
● Waste motor oil can contain toxic contaminants such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and others.
● It takes 42 gallons of crude oil to produce 2.5 quarts of new high-quality lubricant oil, but only one gallon of used oil that’s been recycled.
● Recycling 2 gallons of used oil generates enough electricity to run the average house for 24 hours
● 200 million gallons of used oil are improperly disposed of every year.
● Oil dumped on land reduces the soil’s productivity.
● The film oil leaves on whatever prevets proper photosynthesis and block sunlight to the plant and animal life below.
● In the US less than 60% of used oil is recycled.

Motor Oil and Oil Filter Recycling Preparation

Some simple steps to ensure your used oil and filters are fit for recycling include:

  1. Collect drained or old oil in a secure container with a lid.
  2. Keep oil separate from all other fluids like brake fluid or transmission fluids.
  3. If collecting your oil over time keep it in a safe location, away from kids and pets, and note that many facilities have a 5-gallon limit.
  4. For used oil filters you will need to puncture the dome area, flip over and allow the oil to drain into your container overnight.
  5. Place your now drained used oil filter into a plastic bag to transport to the recycler.

FAQ: About Recycling Used Engine Oil and Filters

How is used motor oil recycled?

Recycling motor oil involves a process called reconditioning. This involves removing impurities such as pieces of the motor, water, and other substances.

Used automotive oil or waste oil is processed at re-refineries. There, the heavy metals, dirt, and impurities are removed to create a new base oil. This is done through a process of dehydration, the water removed is treated before released into the environment. The oil goes through several more processes including vacuum distillation and hydro heating. Finally, the oil is separated into three oil grades to later be mixed with additives to create a new life for the recycled oil as diesel fuel, marine fuel, heating oil, asphalt, or other useful products.

Is synthetic oil recyclable?

Yes, synthetic oil is recyclable as well as regular fossil-derived or petroleum-based oil. It is accepted at all the same facilities such as auto parts stores.

What is re-refined motor oil?

Re-refined oil is simply used oil which has been extensively cleaned and purified to produce good as new base oil which can be blended to make oil for vehicles, or transmission fluid or other lubricants.

Can I make money recycling old motor oil and filters?

In certain states such as California, you can actually collect a small reimbursement, 40 cents per gallon, for recycling used oil. This is usually through a collection facility, not a retailer. Scrap metal yards may also pay you for the scrap steel found in old oil filters. If you have a significant amount of oil and/or filters it may be profitable to find a paying collection facility.

How clean does my oil need to be in order to be recycled?

Your oil can be old and dirty and will still retain its lubricating qualities and be usable once filtered and refined. Just be sure it is not contaminated with other fluids. An oil recycler will filter and refine the oil to create a new clean base oil for reuse.

Is it illegal to throw away motor oil?

Yes, it is illegal to throw away or dump motor oil improperly. Used motor oil must be disposed of or recycled as t is considered hazardous waste. It can contaminate groundwater and damage the environment and harm wildlife. Punishments for illegally tossing oil vary state by state, but could include fines and damages.

Can you recycle used oil filters?

Used oil filters are mostly comprised of steel which is highly recyclable, and accepted at most locations that accept used oil such as auto parts stores, Walmart, and recycling facilities.

Can I recycle used car oil and filters in my curbside recycling program?

No, your curbside recycling program does not accept hazardous waste. Used car oil and filters cannot be tossed in any curbside bins. They must be recycled properly.

Are motor oil containers recyclable?

Empty bottles of motor oil are usually made from Plastic #2 which is highly recyclable, however, the oil residue in them makes recycling tricky. They will not be accepted in your curbside recycling program along with other plastic bottles, unfortunately. You can check with your local recycling facility to see if they accept them, and if not they will need to be thrown away in your regular trash.

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