Used Motor Oil

Used motor oil is recyclable. Although it gets extremely dirty, it will never wear out. The used motor oil that is taken in to a recycler may be re-refined and made into lubricating oils that meet all the same specifications of non-recycled motor oil. It may get processed and burned in special furnaces for heat, or used in power plants to generate electricity for our homes, schools, businesses and industries.

Putting used motor oil in the trash or dumping it out on the ground is not an option today. Used motor oil disposed of improperly can be very dangerous to the environment because it can contain benzene, lead, arsenic, zinc and cadmium.

How do I properly recycle/dispose of used motor oil and filters?

Used motor oil in quantities of three gallons or less can be taken to Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone or Wal-Mart Supercenter’s Tire & Lube Center. Contact any local quick-lube center to see if they accept small quantities of used motor oil from the public. Some municipal and county governments collect used motor oil from the public at their maintenance shops so check with them as well. Click here on Jackson Metro HHW to view the tri-county household hazardous waste recycling facility servicing the Jackson Metro area. This facility accepts used motor oil from the public. The Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program maintains a Used Motor Recycling Directory to assist government, businesses, industries and the general public in finding locations to recycle used motor oil and filters. Click here on Recycling Directories to view a listing of locations across the state for recycling used motor oil and oil filters or Earth 911 Network.

Oil filters generally retain about a pint of oil. While the filter is still hot, punch a hole in the dome end and hot-drain the filter for several hours. In addition, punch a hole in the anti-drain valve of the filter, if present, and allow the oil to come out the bottom end of the filter as well. These two measures will generally capture most of the free oil in the filter so that it is completely safe to dispose of in the garbage. Check with local quick-lube centers to see if they accept old oil filters.

Recycling used motor oil helps protect the environment and save energy because:
  • One gallon of used motor oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water – a year’s supply of water for 50 people.
  • It only takes one pint of used motor oil to put an oil sheen on a one acre pond.
  • The amount of used motor oil disposed of improperly by Do-it-yourselfer auto mechanics every eighteen (18) days is approximately 11 million gallons.
  • One gallon of used motor oil that is re-refined will produce 2.5 quarts of lubricating oil, but it takes 42 gallons of crude oil to produce the same 2.5 quarts of lubricating oil.
  • Re-refining used motor oil takes only one-third the energy of refining crude oil to lubricant quality.
  • Americans who change their own motor oil throw away 180 million gallons of recoverable motor oil every year, while only 20 million gallons are recycled.
  • If the 180 million gallons of used motor oil that is disposed of improperly by Do-it-yourselfers each year were recycled, it could produce enough energy to power 360,000 homes each year or could provide 96 million quarts of high-grade motor oil.
  • The United States generates a total of 1.3 billion gallons of waste oil each year of which 800 million gallons are recycled and 500 million are disposed of improperly.
  • If we re-refined the 1.3 billion gallons of waste oil generated in the United States each year, we would save 1.3 million barrels of oil per day, or half the daily output of the Alaska pipeline.
  • Nearly 40% of the pollution in America’s waterways is from used motor oil.
  • Used motor oil often contains toxic metals such as benzene, lead, arsenic, zinc and cadmium, which can seep into water tables if dumped on the ground.
What You Can Do
  • Never dispose of used motor oil: on the ground; in a ditch, creek, river, or lake; in a storm sewer; or in the garbage.
  • Do not mix used motor oil with anything else, such as gasoline, solvents, antifreeze, pesticides, etc.
  • Transfer used motor oil using a funnel to prevent spills to a clean leak-proof plastic container with a screw-on top and put the top on firmly to prevent leaking or spilling.
  • Take used motor oil (limit quantities to 3 gallons or less) to Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Wal-Mart SuperCenter Tire and Lube Center, or other site that accepts used motor oil from the public.
  • Prior to discarding used oil filter, punch an air hole in the dome end of the filter and in the antidrain back valve (if present) located at the flat end of the filter. Allow oil to drain from both ends of the filter for several hours each. Pour this oil in with the rest of the used motor oil for recycling. When taking the used motor oil to one of the listed recyclers, ask them if they’ll also accept used oil filter for recycling as well. Some of the companies not only take used motor oil, but also recycle used oil filters.