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Engine Oil Recycling and Disposal - What You Can Do to Help the Environment

Educational  ·  April 15, 2022

Engine Oil Recycling and Disposal - What You Can Do to Help the Environment

Changing your engine oil regularly is Car Maintenance 101. Some people get a mechanic to do it for them, so they won’t have to stress about it. However, if you prefer to DIY, you’ll soon realise that disposing of used engine oil can be quite challenging. That’s why we came up with this guide.

Used engine oil recycling is critical for humans and mother nature. The oil is toxic and can poison plants and soils, kill fish and wildlife, and pollute nearby water sources. You can prevent that by sending it to an engine oil recycling facility or collection point nearby.

This guide will walk you through every step of the way. First, you’ll learn why used motor oil is dangerous to humans and the environment, and we’ll also let you in on some tips about recycling used oil and dealing with oil filters and oily rags.

What Are the Dangers of Motor Oil?

The most crucial thing to remember about engine oil is that it becomes hazardous waste after being used. That’s also why most places will fine you for dumping the oil irresponsibly, such as pouring it down the drain or on the ground.

Used motor oil has plenty of value left to offer, but only if you dispose of it the correct way.

To understand why used motor oil is harmful, it helps to remember what it's used for in the first place. You use engine oil to lubricate the inside of an internal combustion engine. As it does that, it picks up all sorts of contaminants, including lead, arsenic, benzene, and many other harmful chemicals.

Imagine these chemicals getting into the groundwater, soil, and waterways. 

Improper Disposal of Used Motor Oil – Harmful Effects

Used motor oil can harm people by causing:

As for the environment, illegal dumping of used motor oil can cause:

Again, you must remember that used motor oil still has plenty of value in it, as long as you don’t dump it where it doesn’t belong. 

So, the best way for you to help the environment is to take the used oil directly from your vehicle straight to recycling without any delays.

What Can Used Motor Oil Be Used for?

Here's another critical thing to understand: Motor oil never goes bad. It just gets filthy with some very harmful stuff inside. That means that the oil itself is still pretty useful, as long as you can remove the damaging content inside.

That’s why it’s worth recycling used engine oil by cleaning it thoroughly and then processing it to serve a wide range of new purposes. Depending on what the oil will eventually be used for, the cleaning process must remove things like solids, minerals, additives, and other specific elements in the oil after it’s been used.

When a recycler is done processing used motor oil, a processor or manufacturer can then use it to make:

Can You Use Old Motor Oil to Fertilise Your Lawn?

Several websites online claim that you can recycle used motor oil at home. Doing so is not advisable, considering how harmful the used oil can be to humans when it’s not handled the correct way.

For instance, some claim that you can use motor oil to fertilise your lawn. That is absolutely wrong.

Firstly, dumping used motor oil is illegal. You’re very likely to receive a hefty fine because the oil will kill your grass and poison the soil.

Worse yet, the oil could potentially leach into the groundwater and nearby water sources.

When you consider all the risks to you and your environment, it's clear that playing around with old motor oil is not worth it. 

The best and safest option is for you to package that oil safely in an oil container. Then, send it to an engine oil recycling facility or collector nearby. 

Where Can I Find Engine Oil Recycling Near Me?

Finding somewhere to send your used engine oil is not difficult at all. That should be no surprise, considering how much engine oil people generally use and how harmful it can be if not disposed of correctly.

You can send used motor oil to:

  1. Ralph's Garage - 41A Vulture St, West End, Brisbane
  2. Cleanaway - Level 4, 441 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
  3. Northern Sydney Community Recycling Centre - 8 Waltham St, Artarmon

Better yet, if you’re changing your engine oil at your preferred mechanic, they’ll take the oil and recycle it for you.

The website can also help you find the nearest motor oil recycler near you. Just key in your postcode or region, and it will do the searching for you!

What Do You Do with Rags and Oil Filters After an Oil Change?

Whenever you’re working on your car and changing the engine oil, you’ll likely be changing the oil filter. Unfortunately, as you do that, you’ll be using one or more rags that’ll end up oily, too.

Because these items have used engine oil in them, they also pose a severe risk to the environment and anyone that might come into prolonged contact with them.

You must also be mindful of how you handle and dispose of your used oil filters and oily rags.

Firstly, you should drain as much used engine oil from the oil filter as possible. One way to do that is by draining the oil filter into a container, possibly the same one you used to collect the rest of your used engine oil.

Then, package them in a water-tight bag or container so no oil can drip out. You’ll need to take the oil filter with you when you send the engine oil for recycling.

Disposing of oily rags takes a bit more work, as there’s always a risk of causing a fire.

Disposing of Oily Rags: Dry, Dunk, Dispose

One method you can use is the ‘dry, dunk, and dispose’ approach:

  1. Dry: First, lay the oily rags flat and let them dry in a well-ventilated area (preferably outdoors). Make sure the rags are separated from one another so they can dry thoroughly.
  2. Dunk: When the rags are as dry as possible, wet them by dunking them in water. You can do so using an empty can or wet them with a hose.
  3. Dispose: Get rid of the oily water and soak the rags again with clean water. Then, leave it submerged in water as you seal it in the empty can or a waterproof, resealable bag. You can then take the bag to your community recycling centre because they accept wastes that you cannot just throw in your kerbside bins. 

For more helpful guides on engine oil recycling and many other topics, check out the blog at CarpartAU. It's frequently updated with helpful articles for car owners like you.

By Ray Hasbollah

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