I will try to keep today’s article from being preachy. It’s hard when what you are writing about is recycling, the environment, and generally being a good steward of the life we have. There is a radio ad that plays all the time locally. The ad tagline is “Not a sermon; just a thought” is a subtle way to soften the message. Let’s see if I can keep that in mind today.

Oil recycling makes a huge impact on the environment.

Here’s a staggering fact: Motor oil that isn’t disposed of properly releases about 25 times more oil into the environment than what spills from all modes of oil transportation combined. The American Petroleum Institute estimates that if you recycle just two gallons of used oil, it can generate enough electricity to run the average household for almost 24 hours. So you can see the very real impact recycling can have. Be sure to recycle your motor oil at your local Jiffy Lube. It does more than help protect the environment; it’s put to good use. And the importance of keeping Planet Earth clean, safe, and healthy is something with which we can all agree. (Source Jiffy Lube)

Used oil is a hazardous waste that should never be put in the garbage or dumped in the storm drains or ground. Even just a ¼-gallon of motor oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water. That’s a single quart of oil to contaminate enough water to destroy an entire town’s water supply.

How do I recycle my oil?
  1. Drain motor oil into a drain pan.
  2. Drain your oil filter for 24 hours. It can hold a significant amount of oil.
  3. Pour your used oil into a reusable container with a tight-fitting lid. Put your filter in a plastic bag or sealed container. Well-drained motor oil containers can go in your recycling. Check your local recycling rules on this, so you don’t get fined for improper disposal.
  4. Take your oil and filter to a drop-off center or find out if your curbside recycling program collects the waste materials.

If you don’t have a recycling pickup in your area you can do a quick internet search for recycling centers. Most chain parts stores have a tank that you can dump used motor oil into. Many independent shops will also take used oil, these may charge a fee to offset the fee they pay for the disposal.

What happens to the used oil?

Let’s start with what used oil is not used for. Used motor oil is not put back into vehicles. It is refined and used for heating oil, asphalt, and other petroleum-based products. This means less oil brought out of the ground to make other products and leaving more in the ground for future use.

That last part is advantageous for those of us who aren’t ready to embrace the electric revolution.

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William Connor

As the Editor, William is responsible for all the good, the bad, the ugly and the indifferent that happens at 4WAAM. William brings a wide range of experience to this role. He also wields a freely shared...

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  1. It’s good to know that you shouldn’t just throw used oil in the garbage. My friend’s new business has produced some waste oils so far. I will advise them to find a recycling company for this.

  2. I am glad you mentioned that it is important to drain your oil filter for 24 hours before disposing of it. I’ll be sure to look into a professional disposal company for my father. My spouse and I are interested in dealing with the waste we’ve built up tooling up both of our vehicles.

  3. You got my attention when you said that 1/4 of used oil could contaminate 250,000 gallons of water. As you said, they should never be put in the garbage or dumped in the storm drains. With this in mind, I would assume that it would be a wise decision for auto repair companies to hire a used oil collection company. I could imagine the volume of oil that their operation generates, so it would make sense to consider the used oil’s impact to the environment.

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