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How to Dispose of Used Engine Oil

Updated November 21, 2016

Engine oil, or motor oil, can wreak havoc on the environment if disposed of improperly. According to the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, approximately 250 million gallons of used engine or motor oil are disposed of improperly each year. Used engine oil contains toxic substances that are harmful to plants and animals and water supplies and has even been known to cause cancer. You can protect the environment by recycling your used engine oil instead of disposing of it improperly.

Locate a recycling centre or automotive store in your community that accepts and recycles used engine oil. Visit the Earth 911 website (see Resources) to find recycling centres or automotive businesses in your area that accept and properly dispose of used engine oil donations. Under the "Find recycling centres for" box, type in "Used motor oil." Under the "Near" box, type in your zip code, address, city or state. Click the "Search" button to see a list of recycling centres or automotive businesses in your area that accept used engine oil.

Contact the recycling centre or automotive store to ensure they're still accepting used engine oil. Visit the recycling center's or automotive store's official website to locate contact information. The contact information is usually located at the bottom of the company's website, but can also be found by clicking on the "About" or "Contact" tab.

Drain the used engine or motor oil from your vehicle and place it into a secure bucket. Place the oil drain pan under your vehicle, a few inches behind the oil plug, unscrew the plug and allow the oil to drain into the pan. Replace the oil plug and pour the engine oil from the pan into a secure bucket. Seal the top of the bucket with a plastic lid or garbage bag to prevent leakage during transportation.

Deliver the used engine oil to the recycling centre or automotive business.

Tip

You can choose to donate the bucket along with the used engine oil or request your bucket be emptied and cleaned by the business and promptly returned. According to the University of Alabama, the used motor oil may be filtered and resold for use by various industries or may be sent to a re-refiner to produce diesel fuel, high- and low-quality lubricants or heavy fuel oils commonly used in industrial burners.

Things You'll Need

  • Oil drain pan
  • Bucket
  • Plastic lid/garbage bag
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About the Author

Brittany Tucker began a freelance writing career in 2008. She specializes in home and garden topics, and her work has appeared on a variety of websites. Tucker studied English literature at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.