As you drive your car, motor oil becomes contaminated with various impurities such as dirt, water, chemicals and metals from your engine.
Regular oil changes keep cars and trucks running efficiently, saving you money on both gas and repairs. But regular oil changes also mean that you’ll be stuck with several quarts of dirty motor oil with nowhere to put it.
Used oil contains additives, contaminants, potentially carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic compounds and/or glycol from the cooling system, all of which are extremely toxic to the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 185 million gallons of used motor oil are improperly disposed of by consumers each year.
Under no circumstances should motor oil ever be dumped on the ground or down the drain! Just 1 gallon of used oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of groundwater. Although it can’t be put back into automobiles, used motor oil can be re-refined and then used to make heating oil, asphalt and other lubricants.
If you perform your oil changes at home, follow these steps to ensure that that your old oil gets recycled properly.
- During the oil change, collect the used motor oil in a clean container with a tight-fitting lid.
- Keep it out of reach of children and pets while waiting to take it to a recycling facility. Always clearly label the container as “used motor oil” so it is not accidentally used in lawn mowers or other vehicles.
- Search for local motor oil recycling facilities on 1-800-RECYCLING.com. Pay attention to special times or requirements for hazardous waste recycling at your local facility.
- Keep in mind that some oil-change businesses, such as Jiffy Lube, act as designated used-oil collection center. If no municipal motor oil recycling program exists in your area, check with one of these businesses to see if they’ll accept it.