Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Vehicle Maintenance: Begin Recycling Your Used Motor Oil Today

Posted by STP Editorial Team on Thu, Aug 07, 2014 you know that if all the oil from American do-it-yourself oil changers were recycled, it would be enough motor oil for more than 50 million cars a year? Wow! Imagine how much foreign oil that would eliminate.

Used motor oil from cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, farm equipment, and lawnmowers can be recycled and re-refined. Recycling your used motor oil is as easy as this:

  • Do not spill any oil on the ground.

  • Put your used motor oil in a clean plastic container with a tight lid. 

  • Never store used oil in a container that once held chemicals, food, or beverages. 

  • Do not mix the oil with anything else, such as antifreeze, solvent, or paint. 

  • Take used motor oil to a service station or other location that collects used motor oil for recycling.

Improperly Disposed Used Oil Contaminates Drinking Water

According to an Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program report entitled, “Keeping it all in tune: Car repair and pollution prevention,” an estimated 180 million gallons of used oil is improperly disposed of each year. The used oil from one oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of freshwater—an estimated year’s supply for 50 people. For this reason, vehicle maintenance facility discharges to storm and sanitary sewer systems are highly regulated. Fluid spills and improper disposal of materials result in pollutants, heavy metals, and toxic materials entering ground and surface water supplies, creating public health and environmental risks. Altering practices involving the cleanup and storage of automotive fluids and the cleaning of vehicle parts can help reduce the impact of automotive maintenance practices on stormwater runoff and local water supplies.

Of course one of the most effective ways to minimize the effects of wastes generated by vehicle maintenance is basic prevention. To reduce liquid discharges to sewers and storm drains, pollution prevention programs should encourage facilities to run a dry operation by cleaning up spills immediately (whenever possible without using water), sealing off floor drains connected to sanitary sewers, and hiring a solvent service to supply parts, cleaning materials, and to collect spent solvents.

Facilities unable to eliminate discharges to sanitary sewers may be required to treat their wastewater to prevent untreated wastewater from entering stormwater runoff. Some municipalities require structural treatment devices to pre-treat wastes before they are discharged to sewage treatment plants. Such devices prevent oil and grease from entering the sewer system, often by separating the oil and solids from water though settling or filtration.

See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Used Oil Management Program here for more information, including materials that may be downloaded and distributed.

STP has recently updated its publication Vehicle Maintenance Facilities: A Federal Compliance Guide and also publishes the following related guides:

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Tags: Corporate Governance, Business & Legal, Training, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Transportation