View a table of products in your home that are hazardous, and learn how to dispose of them. Learn more about motor oil and antifreeze issues
• Office of Environmental Assistance (MOEA) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are the 3 R's for environmentally aware consumers.

Oil and Water don't mix

Recycle used oil
Used motor oil getting into a stream is almost as disgusting as dogb**p (hotlink) and is really a lot worse for the health of the organisms in the stream. It's also pretty easy to dispose of it properly since every gas station will accept it (FREE) as well as the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD). It's a State Law.

Motor oil doesn't wear out very much but it does get dirty. It might be re-refined and made into lubricating oils that are as good as non-recycled motor oil. Or it may ultimately be burned in special furnaces for heat, or used in power plants to generate electricity for homes, schools and businesses. Putting it in the trash or dumping it out on the ground is NOT an option. You pollute Minnesota's groundwater, lakes and streams — that's no way to treat the "land of 10,000 lakes."

What's the problem ?
The oil can form a slick that looks bad, slimes the shoreline, poisons amphibians, fish and the aquatic organisms they depend on for food, and is unhealthy for you, other people and birds and mammals that eat the fish and amphibians. Oil films on the surface of water prevent oxygen from diffusing into the water from the air, impair photosynthesis and block sunlight. It's gross and it's poisonous !
As motor oil circulates through an engine, it picks up heavy metals and other contaminants. Arsenic, lead, cadmium, copper, zinc, chromium and some of the nastier organic compounds such as benzene and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are just some of the toxins found in used motor oil. These compounds are all considered to be priority pollutants by the US Environmental Protection Agency and only one gallon of used motor oil can potentially cause significant contamination to a million gallons of clean stream water, in addition to ruining its taste. Dumping it onto the ground is not a good alternative either since it can contaminate groundwater and may still end up in a stream since this is the source of much of the water in our streams during low flow periods- what we call "baseflow." (don't forget that our streams all discharge into Lake Superior). Even in a landfill it can eventually leak into the groundwater. The best way to deal with used oil is to recycle it. Where To Bring Used Oil
All places that sell motor oil in the State of Minnesota (including Auto dealerships, gas stations and auto repair shops) must either accept used motor oil or have a sign that tells you the nearest place where you can take it.

For recycling locations
in your zipcode
area click here

You can also find disposal locations for oil and many other recyclables by visiting the Earth's 911 web site to find. Fortunately, motor oil is very recyclable - it doesn't wear out, although it does get dirty. It can be re-refined and made into lubricating oils that are as good as non-recycled motor oil. Or it might be processed and burned for heat or to generate electricity for homes, schools and businesses.
More more information about oil recycling:
Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance
Toll-free: 800-657-3843 This Agency also has good information for businesses that want to recycle materials or use re-cycled materials to help the environement while cutting costs. There are also links to many excellent educational resources

To Recycle Your Used Motor Oil...
1. Drain oil into a clean container with a tight fitting lid (soda pop bottles and milk jugs are OK). Avoid plastic bottles once used for bleach, cleaners or other automobile fluids, such as antifreeze. Avoid paint cans and other metal containers and containers used for gasoline.

2. Keep water out. Oil contaminated with water, gasoline or hydraulic fluids can't be recycled and must be disposed of in an expensive manner. Store the oil in a leak-proof container. 3. Your oil filters may also be recycled. Drain oil filters prior to bringing them to a used oil collection facility.
Some other oil facts
 • One pint of oil can produce a slick of approximately one acre of water  • about 2.5 quarts of re-refined lubricating oil can be produced from 1 gallon of used oil  • re-refining is energy efficient -- less energy is required to produce a gallon of re-refined base stock than to produce base stock from crude oil  • the U.S. States Postal Service and National Park Service use re-refined oil in their vehicle fleets  • over 450 million oil filters are purchased annually in the U.S.  • about 15 million oil filters were recycled in 1996  • recycling 1 ton of drained oil filters produces 1,700 pounds of steel and recovers about 60 gallons of used oil  • in the U. S., 42-60 % of drivers are do-it-yourself oil changers. Each year, about 75% of the 14 billion gallons of recoverable used motor oil generated by do-it-yourselfers (DIYs) is disposed of improperly (API, 1996).  • Americans throw away enough used motor oil every year to fill 120 supertankers  • One gallon of used oil provides the same 2.5 quarts of high quality lubricating oil as 42 gallons of crude oil.

 • An estimated 200 million gallons of used motor oil is improperly disposed of each year in the U.S. by being dumped on the ground, tossed in the trash (ending up in landfills), and poured down storm sewers and drains. Recycling used oil would save the U.S. 1.3 million barrels of oil per day - still a small fraction of what is improperly disposed. The figure below shows that only 4% of used oil was estimated to have been recycled in 1991.  • Unfortunately, there is not yet a big enough market for re-refined oil. This appears to be in part because some oil companies are concerned that the public will not accept the use re-refined oils in their blends, not because of quality issues. However, most brands of re-refined oil have received American Petroleum Institute (API) certification and meet their stringent quality control standards.  • People should look for their Certification symbol which is an indicator of quality. The American Petroleum Institute's (API) Engine Oil Quality Marks- the API Service Symbol "Donut" and Certification Mark "Starburst" help consumers identify quality engine oils for their gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles.


1. California Conservation Corps 2. American Petroleum Institute and within it the detailed information about recycled oil quality. 3. California Integrated Waste Management Board. Excellent source of free graphics for business or community use