How to dispose of engine oil

In car maintenance, a regular change of your engine oil is a routine task that ensures optimal performance and longevity.

However, several car owners overlook the responsible disposal of used engine oil.

Proper disposal of used engine oil is an important step in the maintenance of both the car’s health and the well-being of the environment.

In this article, let’s look at what many car owners overlook: how to dispose of engine oil.

Whether you’re an expert or a beginner in fixing your own car, you need to know how to deal with old oil in an environmentally friendly way.

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How to dispose of used/old engine oil
Photo Credit: smchealth

Why Recycling is Important

Even a small amount of motor oil has the potential to cause significant harm to the environment.

As per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the used oil resulting from a single oil change can pollute up to one million gallons of water.

Additionally, the EPA warns that used oil may harbour harmful chemicals and heavy metals, posing risks to both human and wild animals.

Recycled oil is taken through a re-refining procedure, which makes it appropriate for reuse in vehicles.

Surprisingly, according to EPA lab tests, recycled oil has demonstrated the potential to outperform new oil in certain conditions.

By recycling oil this way, we can prevent environmental pollution from the old oil and also cut down the demand for fresh oil.

How to Recycle Commercially Used Engine Oil

The most convenient method for businesses to recycle used engine oil is a collection through licensed waste carriers.

Place the oil in a suitable container, and the carriers will pick it up and transport it to a nearby recycling facility at a scheduled time.

Some companies, like Business Waste, even provide free containers for you to fill with old engine oil, you simply pay for collection.

When you drop off your used engine oil, make sure you get a complimentary consignment note.

Since engine oil is hazardous, this note confirms that it’s being handled and disposed of safely and properly.

It keeps track of what’s happening to your waste engine oil.

Alternatively, if your organization has registered waste carriers, they can take the waste oil directly to a nearby recycling facility.

How to Recycle Domestically Used Engine Oil

In the event you’re recycling used engine oil at home, simply drop it off at your nearby oil bank.

You may conveniently check online to help you locate the closest facility.

Alternatively, check if your local council’s recycling centre accepts engine oil.

This way, it is guaranteed that your old oil will be sent to a suitable facility for re-refining instead of ending up in a landfill.

How to Dispose of Oil

Here’s the right way to dispose of used/old motor oil:

  1. Lay down a tarp or absorbent paper layer during the oil change to catch any spills.
  2. Service the vehicle, equipment, or tool by replacing the oil and filter.
  3. Take caution to avoid contaminating the oil with any other liquids or substances.
  4. Pierce the top of the old oil filter, draining any remaining oil into your oil pan.
  5. Enclose the used filter in a plastic bag and recycle it along with the used oil, as it may still contain some oil.
  6. Prepare the oil for transportation by using a sealable oil pan or transferring it to a polyethene container that has not previously held other liquids. Empty oil bottles from the initial oil fill work well for this purpose.
  7. Transport the containers to a facility that accepts used oil.

Where to Take Used/Old Engine Oil

Counties and municipalities frequently manage hazardous-waste collection sites, providing a place for you to recycle your used oil.

Additionally, most auto parts stores, including Advance, Auto Zone, Napa, and O’Reilly, collect used oil where local rules allow.

These collection sites represent the only legal places for disposing of used motor oil.

How is used engine oil recycled?

Here’s how it works:

When you take your used engine oil to a licensed facility, they clean it up by removing dirt and contaminants.

It recycles and refines the oil to transform it into new motor oil, lubricants, fuel oil, or even raw materials, giving it a second life.

While the facility disposes of the dirt in the old oil, they also recycle any metals and certain other contaminants.

The process of refining and recycling used engine oil involves the following steps:

  • Dewatering: A large settling tank separates water and oil from the contaminated engine oil, facilitating the extraction of water.
  • Filtering: In this process, we filter out and demineralize inorganic materials, solids, and specific additives, creating a purer burner fuel for subsequent refinement
  • Propane de-asphalting: Heavier bituminous fractions are removed, creating a clean re-refined base oil.
  • Distilling: The oil is boiled to separate various components, producing re-refined oil suitable for use as a lubricant or fuel oil.

What can recycled engine oil be used for?

After the cleaning and re-refining processes, recycled engine oil can serve various purposes, such as:

  • Re-refined base oil for making lubricants, transformer oils, or hydraulic oils.
  • Industrial burner oil.
  • Component in bitumen-based products.
  • Additive incorporated into manufactured goods.
  • Mould oil for facilitating the release of products from their moulds.


Used engine oil is highly hazardous and may cause significant health issues if not properly disposed of.

By recycling your old oil, you can help protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and save money.

Always remember to follow the local regulations and use authorized collection sites such as curbside for your used oil recycling.

Don’t let your car’s waste become a problem for the planet.

We hope this guide has helped you understand how to dispose of used engine oil in a responsible and eco-friendly way.

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