Significant progress has been made in used oil collection from at-home mechanic do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) since the used oil recycling program began in California in 1992. Now that your local oil recycling program is in place, it’s time to move up to the next level in used motor oil recycling, which is used oil filter collection.

It’s important to collect used oil filters from DIYers because each used filter contains on average, 10 fluid ounces of used motor oil trapped inside. Unfortunately, many of these filters are not properly recycled, and the result is that more than two million gallons of oil from these filters is being improperly disposed of each year in California. However, as a used oil recycling coordinator, you can implement an effective used oil filter recycling program in your community with your Used Oil Block Grant funds. The following gives you ideas on how to start or enhance your community’s oil filter recycling program.

Using your Block Grant Funding

Block Grant funds can pay for, advertising, containers, oil filter crushers, oil filter hauling costs, curbside collection, collection events, and other related costs. However, before you begin or announce a used oil filter collection program, particularly if it is based at the Certified Collection Centers (CCCs), you must work through some details with them first. Issues regarding storage space, additional staff time and lack of incentive payments to cover the recycling are typical concerns.

Advertising: Advertising the collection of used oil filters is as simple as adding a few words to existing used oil advertisements. However, when first introducing the collection of used oil filters into your program, consider doing a separate advertisement just for filters to raise awareness regarding this new recycling opportunity.

Collection Containers & Crushers: Grant funds can also be used to support the Certified Collection Centers by providing them with a 55-gallon drum and a recycling collection service for used oil filters. On average, 250 uncrushed oil filters or 750 crushed filters will fit into a 55-gallon drum.

The purchase of an oil filter crusher may be a great way to encourage a center or curbside program manager to take used oil filters from the public. However, not every center or curbside program will benefit from a crusher. Remember, pre-approval must be obtained from your grant manager prior to purchasing equipment.

Please consider the following factors prior to requesting approval for the purchase of crusher from your grant manager:

  • Will the business accept filters at no charge?
    If not, then this business should purchase their own crusher.
  • Are the majority of the filters coming from the public?
    If not, then this business should purchase their own crusher.
  • Is the storage space limited?
    If yes, then crusher may be beneficial as crushed filters are smaller so more will fit into a drum
  • Will the collection center/curbside program staff have time to crush filters? Does the hauler charge the same per drum for crushed and uncrushed filters?
    If yes, then crusher will reduce transportation costs (more filters/drum)
  • Where are the filters going for processing and/or recycling? (Processor or recycler may require filters to be drained, crushed, or shredded)
    Scrap metal dealer, processor (some don’t accept crushed filters), municipal solid waste incinerator, or directly to a steel mill?

Hauling costs: Grant funds can also be used to cover hauling costs. The hauling cost for one 55-gallon drum of used oil filters is approximately $60.

Curbside: Initial (start up) costs may vary depending on the amount of retrofitting the curbside trucks require. Retrofitting a truck to hold used oil filters can be as simple as strapping a 5-gallon bucket to the truck or it can involve having a rack system designed for the truck to hold the filters. Grant funds can be used to purchase the bags for homeowners to place their filters in, imprinted with recycling information, or residents can use their own bags.

Collection Events: Many grantees have found that an excellent way to increase oil filter recycling from their DIYers is to hold a filter (and oil) collection event. Typically, an auto parts store is contacted and agrees to partner the event at their business, with cost of the event funded through a local used oil block grant. The local grantee advertises the event, and agrees to exchange new oil filters for old oil filters brought in by DIYers. (Some grantees exchange one new filter for each old filter, up to five new filters given out, and other grantees limit the exchange to only two new filters, even if many old filters are brought in.) The business increases their foot traffic, the DIYers have a chance to exchange their oil and filters for new oil filters, and overall oil and filter recycling increases in the jurisdiction, a triple win for everybody involved.

Additional filter recycling ideas have been shared in presentations at Used Oil/HHW Conferences:

Additional Resources

The following resources can be downloaded from this site or requested by calling (916) 341-6457.

  • Filter transporter list. A list of businesses that transport oil filters for recycling. Please call several companies to compare prices.
  • Camera-ready oil filter art. The oil filter logo is available on this site or call the number listed above for camera-ready slicks.
  • Signs. For collection centers that accept used oil filters from the public. Available in multiple languages and materials (metal, plastic, etc.).
  • Filter Recycling Success Stories. Learn how grantees increased oil filter recycling in their communities. Model project descriptions show how you can start or enhance your own filter collection program.