How to Recycle Used Motor Oil

Changing the oil on your motorcycle or ATV yourself helps you save a little money, and get you better acquainted with your machine.

Old oil recycling

One challenge that you're left with as a do-it-yourselfer is how to responsibly dispose of used oil. It's an important last step of an oil change, and doing it right helps to protect the environment and provide materials that can be reused as lubricants.

Environmental Impact of Used Motor Oil

Impact of oil on wildlife

The impact of oil on the environment is everlasting. Oil is toxic, and takes years to break down. The Environmental Protection Agency says one oil change can impact about a million gallons of fresh water, which we boat and fish in, and even drink. Oil can also harm wildlife. It can damage feathers on birds and release poisons into the food chain, which can ultimately make it into our food.

Uses for Recycled Motor Oil 

Industrial uses for recycled motor oil

Recycling used motor oil creates opportunities for industries to take advantage of a low-cost product for a number of applications, including:

  • Heating oil
  • Power generation
  • Boilers
  • Lubricants

And each one represents a way to save costs, which in some cases get passed on to the consumer. According to the EPA, if the used oil from every do-it-yourself oil change in America was recycled properly, it would provide enough reprocessed oil for 50 million cars a year.

old engine oil drain

Recycle your Old Motor Oil

Step 1. After you've drained the oil out of your machine and into a drain pan, turn the old filter upside down and drain it for 24 hours. It can hold a lot of oil, and many recycling locations will take oil filters as well.

Step 2. Pour the oil into reusable containers with tight lids.

NOTE: Milk jugs are commonly used to recycle oil, but the oil can actually eat through the material. The oil's original container is a better choice for recycling oil.

Step 3. Place your filter in a plastic bag or another sealed container.

Where to Take Used Oil for Recycling

Think of changing the oil on your ATV or motorcycle as an opportunity to not only do something that's essential to protecting your machine's health, but to protecting the environment's health as well. Every community is different, but sites like earth911.com allow you to search for recycling centers by zip code. There are also shops and quick lubes that will take used oil without charge, so be sure to check if there are any such locations in your area that recycle oil for you. The environment thanks you for it!

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