Remember: Motor Oil Can Be Recycled


The sign I saw as I walked

I was walking to board my local mass transit option headed to downtown San Francisco when I saw a sign that piqued my curiosity. The sign stated that one discarded oil filter had the potential to pollute 250,000 gallons of water.  I strive to be as knowledgeable as possible about all things green and since I had not encountered this statistic, I thought I would examine oil filters in more detail.

Motor oil hazard

Oil keeps our cars and other machines running smoothly by functioning as a lubricant. However, during normal use, impurities such as dirt, metal scrapings, water, or chemicals can mix with the oil until the lubricant no longer performs as designed. Eventually, replacement is required.

Used motor oil is hazardous since it picks up contaminants when exposed to engines and transmissions. These contaminants include lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, dioxins, benzene and polycyclic aromatics. If the second-hand motor oil were disposed of inappropriately and released into the environment, harm to humans and animals could result.

Improperly disposed motor oil ends up in landfills when placed in containers for household garbage. Other methods that can release oil into the environment include pouring it onto weeds, spraying it on roads as a dust suppressant, using it to clean tools, and protecting timber posts and fences from termites. These practices permit the used oil to enter the soil and leach through to contaminate ground water.

Prevention of hazardous waste contamination

Remember, the oil in your car doesn’t wear out, it just gets dirty.  Once processed by an authorized motor recycling facility the motor oil can be recycled; after this process, the oil can be cleaned and re-used.