California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Profiles of Used Oil/HHW  Projects

City of L.A. Reaps Rewards from Oil Filter Recycling Partnership with Kragen: Collection Increases 182 Percent

Kragen customer brings in used oil filter for recycling.Do-it-yourself oil changers (DIY) in California currently purchase more than 20 million oil filters annually. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of used oil filters are recycled. This means that an estimated 1.2 million gallons of oil in discarded oil filters go to landfills each year.

To reverse this wasteful trend, the City of Los Angeles is partnering with the CSK Corporation to conduct oil filter collection/exchange events at Kragen auto parts stores within the city limits.

The result: Within one year, collection of used oil filters in the city rose from 4,250 to more than 12,000, resulting in the recycling of 18,300 pounds of steel and 11,700 pounds of oil. This represents an increase of 182 percent! During this same time period, oil recycling increased 60 percent.

Oil Filter Exchange Spurs Recycling

In 2002, L.A. program coordinator Hamid Tadayon approached CSK to request that Kragen franchises in L.A. accept used oil filters from the public. CSK agreed and during their first year of filter collection, 30 participating Kragens collected 4,250 used oil filters, storing them in city-supplied drums.

In 2003, Tadayon's persistence led to Phase 2 of this unique partnership and the driving force behind the 182 percent increase in filter collection over the year before. Each Kragen store hosts one or two oil filter exchange events per month. During these events, customers receive a free new oil filter whenever they bring in used oil filters and oil. The city then reimburses stores for the cost of all new filters given away during events.

Abandoned Oil Decreases at Stores

In addition to having a profound effect upon oil and filter recycling rates, this project has enhanced the city's relationship with participating Kragens. According to Tadayon, "This partnership has increased Kragen employees' motivation to provide a high quality oil recycling service to the public, which has in turn increased DIY oil and filter recycling at participating certified collection centers. The program has also resulted in cleaner and more efficient operation of the collection centers, including reduced after-hours drop-off of orphan oil."

Events Engage Local Community

The city and participating Kragen stores jointly advertise oil filter exchange events. Two weeks before each event, city employees provide promotional flyers to Kragen franchises announcing filter exchange events. Store employees then distribute the flyers to DIY customers up to the date of the event. Says Tadayon, "It is important to check with store managers to ensure that flyers are distributed in the stores." Prior to events, city employees also distribute flyers at nearby homes, apartment complexes, businesses, schools and churches within host Kragen service areas.

During oil filter exchange events, city employees hand out questionnaires to determine participants' awareness of products made from recycled filters. Participants are then asked to sign a commitment to continue recycling their used oil filters. Says Tadayon, "DIYs are more motivated to recycle their filters once they become aware that used filters and the oil they contain are made into new products such as construction rebar and rerefined oil. Our one-page, bilingual educational flyer has been a very effective means of visually conveying this information."

Customer holds coupon for new oil filter over a bucket of used oil ready for recycling. Hassle-Free Kragen Reimbursement

One challenge Tadayon encountered when crafting the city's oil filter exchange partnership with CSK was working out a way to reimburse host Kragen for oil filters they give away at exchange events without burdening them with paperwork. The solution: the city issued a credit card to one of its staff which is solely used for store filter reimbursement.

During each event, Kragen employees scan the bar codes on all filters given to DIYs into their computers at a value of $0. They then tally all entries at the end of the event and are reimbursed for the actual value of the filters that day via a credit card payment by the city. CIWMB grant funding restrictions limit filter giveaways to one per customer. Grantees also must have a pre-established budget for filter exchange events. The city will continue to fund filter exchange events at participating Kragens until June of 2005.

Filters Sent to Recycling Facility

Following exchange events, the city pays its used oil hauler, Evergreen Inc., to haul used oil filters to a commercial filter recycling center. There the filters are shredded, the steel is separated out magnetically and the filter media is pressed to extract residual oil. Oil from the filters is drained and collected during every step of the filter recycling process and sent to a rerefinery to be cleaned up for reuse.

The city's next goal is to negotiate an oil filter collection partnership with the AutoZone Corporation at its stores. Once this is in place, the City of Los Angeles should experience another huge surge in oil and filter recycling.

For more information
Contact Hamid Tadayon at (213) 473-8163 or

Last updated: April 25, 2005
Used Oil and HHW Grants
Contact: (916) 341-5062