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How to Properly Dispose of Motor Oil

Annually, America Recycles Day is observed on Nov. 15 to recognize the importance and impact of recycling and the protection of our environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported in 2018 that the rate of recycling has increased from less than 7% in 1960 to the current rate of 32%. Materials recycled include paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and many other items. 

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One of the items you should recycle is used motor oil, especially given the harmful effects it can have if spilled or allowed to seep into the ground. Did you know that one gallon of motor oil can contaminate a million gallons of water if poured into a storm drain? Luckily, used motor oil is one of the easiest materials to recycle, thanks to the many automotive retailers and repair shops that will accept used motor oil for proper disposal.

Many of automotive retailers and oil change locations that offer Pennzoil Synthetics will also accept used motor oil back for recycling. Oil change locations, such as Jiffy Lube and others, will also accept used motor oil for proper disposal. To ensure your nearest retailer or oil change center accepts used motor oil, we recommend contacting the location directly.


If you change your own motor oil, there are few tips to keep in mind so that you can properly recycle your used motor oil and filter:

  • Capture every drop of motor oil by laying out a mat or other floor covering, ensuring it will capture any splashing or overflow. 
  • Use a pan big enough to capture all the used motor oil. Some pans even feature a built-in spout to allow for easy transfer to a storage container. 
  • Use storage containers made of plastic that the used motor oil won’t break down; containers made from polyethylene (PE) work best. Motorists also frequently use the original motor oil container, making for easy transportation and ample storage space. Containers like milk cartons are not suitable for storing used motor oil. 
  • Do not mix motor oil with other fluids in your vehicle, such as coolant, windshield washer or brake fluid. Also avoid storing used motor oil in containers that once housed other fluids, since combining used motor oil with other vehicle fluids may prevent the used motor oil from being properly recycled. 
  • Do not forget the oil filter — it is made of steel and contains some used motor oil too. To drain the filter, punch a hole in the top of the oil filter and let the motor oil drain into the pan used for collecting the motor oil from the engine. The filter will still contain motor oil even after draining, so be certain to bring it with your used motor oil, so it can be handled and disposed of by participating locations. 
  • Make sure you have a lid that is properly secured on the container. Store it in a cool, dry place until you bring it to be recycled. 

Recycling motor oil, glass, plastic, paper and household items is an important way to be more sustainable and help protect our environment.


This article is brought to you by Pennzoil.

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