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Making Oil Recycling Part of Your Green Living

oil recycling - oil drain

As more citizens are taking the initiative to preserve the earth and change the wasteful ways we live, more ways to go green are being developed. From going paperless to creating a compost pile and even switching to hybrid or electric vehicles, there are obvious ways to preserve our natural resources. If you are one of those eco-conscious drivers, are you taken the next step and recycling your motor oil after an oil change?

The Impact of Recycling Motor Oil

As of 2009, there were 250 million registered cars on the road in the U.S. If you ask any repair shop, it is suggested to change your oil every 7500 miles. The average American drives 13,000 miles a year. That is an average of 2 oil changes per year, per person, accounting for roughly 625 million gallons of used motor oil each year.

The Environmental Protection Agency states the oil from one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water. It is this reason that makes dumping oil illegal. Your local repair shops and auto part stores are required to recycle any used motor oil they accumulate. However, with millions of do-it-yourself oil changes, there is still risk of improper disposal of motor oil.

What Happens to Recycled Motor Oil

If you have changed your oil yourself, you noticed the thick black sludge your engine expels. As useless as it looks, used motor oil has many different uses in many different industries. The most common is refining for re-use in automobiles and machinery. One gallon of recycled motor oil has the same 2.5 quarts of lubricating oil as 42 gallons of crude oil.

Refined motor oil is also used to heat and cool homes, can be mixed with asphalts for paving, used in industrial burners, and is even used in power plants to provide electricity. Refined oil is often marketed to paper mills, boilers, asphalt plants, and steel mills to offer a second life for the resource.


Recycling Your Motor Oil

Many who are new to at-home oil changes are often in the dark about where to dispose of their used motor oil. That is why many improperly dispose of their oil in the trash or public dumpsters. If caught, you can face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of $100,000 and a felony on your record for improper disposal of hazardous waste.

If you choose to change your oil yourself, there are many local shops and auto part stores that will voluntarily collect your used oil. One major chain, Auto Zone, is one of the many companies that will accept your oil for free. Local repair shops are also required to house barrels for used oil, and any reputable repair shop will gladly help you dispose of your oil. Your area may even have a hazardous material drop-off location, found through your local government website or calling your city hall.

As we continue to find alternative fuels to run out automobiles, we still need to use motor oil for lubricating engines. This creates a high importance for properly disposing, recycling and reusing motor oil to preserve this natural resource and the environment. If you would like to take it a step further, you can contact your local auto part store and ask if they sell refined motor oil for your next oil change.

Dan Nielson is an avid car blogger. Whether you use conventional motor oil or a synthetic such as mystick motor oil, proper disposal is not only required, but is environmentally responsible.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.