California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Used Motor Oil

Information for Do-It-Yourselfers

Do you change your car's motor oil? Did you know that State-certified used oil collection centers will take your used motor oil and will render upon request the recycling incentive?

When you take your used oil to a certified center for recycling, you are protecting the environment, conserving a valuable resource, and getting paid for it. That's a winning combination!

There is one catch. Certified center managers will not accept used motor oil that has been contaminated with other fluids such as antifreeze, solvents, gasoline, or water. So please, don't mix your used oil with anything. However, if your used oil accidentally gets contaminated, your Certified Center manager can tell you where to take it for proper disposal.

What Are the Hazards of Used Oil?

Used oil can contain such contaminants as lead, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium, arsenic, chlorides, cadmium, and chlorinated compounds. Oil poured down drains or onto the ground can work its way into our ground and surface waters and cause serious pollution. One gallon of used oil can foul a million gallons of drinking water. Federal reports indicate that used motor oil accounts for more than 40 percent of the total oil pollution of our nation's harbors and waterways.

Can Used Oil Be Recycled?

Yes, used oil is very recyclable. Used oil can be re-refined or processed into fuel oil. Unfortunately, not enough is being recycled. In 1998, 140 million gallons of lubricating oil were sold in California. Approximately 40 percent or 56 million gallons, leaked out of engines or was burned. Yet, of the remaining 84 million gallons, just 64 million gallons were recycled, leaving approximately 20 million gallons unaccounted for and possibly improperly disposed of down storm drains, into lakes or streams, or thrown in the garbage.

How Can You Help?

You can participate in oil recycling by following these tips:

Last updated: March 24, 2010
Used Oil Recycling Program,
Contact: (916) 341-6457