What Is the Proper Disposal Method for Used Motor Oil?

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Used motor oil must be stored in a clean plastic container that has not been previously used for food, beverages or other chemicals to prepare it for recycling. It can then be taken to a service station or other drop-off point for recyclable materials.

When changing the oil in a vehicle or other small engine, the old oil can be collected in a pan made specifically for the purpose and then transferred to a clean container. Oil filters can also be recycled with the additional benefit of reclaiming steel. Oil that has been contaminated may have to be taken to a toxic waste facility rather than an oil recycling center.

Because motor oil never breaks down (it just gets dirty and needs to be cleaned), recycling used motor oil helps to conserve petroleum. Used motor oil should never be disposed of by combining it with other chemicals, placing it with household trash, pouring it on the ground or washing it down a drain. Disposing of used motor oil in the sewer system or on the ground can contaminate soil and water supplies. Consumers who cannot find a local business that accepts used motor oil for recycling can contact their local Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program to obtain a list of motor oil recycling centers.

Recycled motor oil can be cleaned to extend its usefulness, re-refined to serve as base stock for new motor oil or reprocessed to be burned as fuel. When used motor oil is reprocessed, this removes the water from the oil, allowing it to be used as burn fuel to generate electricity and heat.