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Motor Oil Oil Filters and Antifreeze

It's enough to make you sick. Don't pollute our water -- recycle used motor oil.

Oil changes for automobiles and light trucks produce over 600 million gallons of used oil annually. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over 200 million gallons of this oil is tossed into the trash, spilled onto the ground or poured down drains and sewers each year.

The catastrophic EXXON Valdez spill was small compared to the amount of oil dumped into backyards, ditches and farm fields by do-it-yourself (DIY) oil changers.

Recycling oil filters saves resources and energy

Americans change over 400 million oil filters a year! These filters have a high steel content and additional motor oil, both easily recycled. If all of the oil filters manufactured in 1994 had been recycled, an estimated 161,500 tons of steel could have been recovered and 17.8 million gallons of used oil would have been kept out of our fields and waterways.

Unfortunately, most used oil filters are not recycled, so the oil they contain is released into the environment. Ninety percent of do-it-yourselfers (DIYs) throw their filters in the trash, sending about 10 million gallons of used oil to landfills every year.

Where can I recycle/drop off used oil and oil filters?

Community household hazardous waste collection programs and many retailers accept used motor oil and used oil filters from residents. IDEM provides a list of Solid Waste Management Districts and household hazardous waste programs (Currently Unavailable). Earth 911 lists community collections, private recyclers and private retailers that accept used oil (such as Walmart Tire and Lube Express, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Pep Boys, and Tractor Supply). When visiting the Earth 911 website, click on the “Find a Recycling Center” icon and search under the key word “automotive” near your city or town.

Recovering antifreeze is easy & economical

U.S. cars generate over 60 million gallons of used antifreeze each year. Most antifreeze contains the poisonous chemical ethylene glycol. Like motor oil, used antifreeze also collects hazardous contaminants from the engine during use. Antifreeze has a sweet taste, which attracts children and pets. It may cause injury or death through ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption. Over 4,884 people were treated for antifreeze poisoning in 2000, and sixteen died.

In the past, disposal of used ethylene glycol has included treating it as a hazardous waste, discharging it Into municipal sewer systems, or illegally pouring it into dry wells and storm drains. These methods of disposal are no longer necessary because now antifreeze can be recycled easily and inexpensively.

What can I do to fight pollution?

  • Every do-it-yourselfer should properly recycle oil, oil filters and antifreeze.
  • If you don't change your own oil, make sure whoever does uses a recycling service. If your bill includes a "disposal fee," ask what the fee buys.
  • Consider using an oil change center instead; oil change centers buy oil and antifreeze in bulk, therefore producing less waste.
  • Purchase re-refined motor oil for your vehicles. Re-refined oil products today are subject to the same stringent refining, compounding, and performance standards as motor oil made crude oil, but they represent a much better use of resources.
  • When changing your motor oil, collect in a clean, seal-able container like a milk jug.
  • After you drop off your oil, oil filters and antifreeze at the collection center, take your containers home to use next time.
  • Never mix used oil with other chemicals such as bleach, kerosene, cleaners or antifreeze.
  • Remove used oil filters while the engine is warm. Place the oil filter, open end up, in a leak-proof plastic bag or container. Then take it to the nearest collection site for recycling.
  • Collect used antifreeze for recycling. Never mix antifreeze with oil, fuels or anything else.
  • If you know of others who change their own oil, tell them to recycle their used motor oil, filters and antifreeze!

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