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Used Oil - How to Manage It and Dispose of Spent Oil Properly

Oil Drop With Recycling Logo Management of used oil, for both businesses and consumers, has been the subject of debate for many years; virtually since the enactment of the HSWA regulation in the 80's.  In the past years, several final rules and clarifications has addressed the subject.  En Español

Used oil is exactly what its name implies, any petroleum-based or synthetic that has been used. During normal use, impurities such as dirt, metal scrapings, water or chemicals, can get mixed in with the oil, so that in time, the oil no longer performs well. Eventually, this used oil must be replaced with virgin or re-refined oil to do the job correctly. 

Recycling your used motor oil properly is easy.
  1. Do not spill any oil on the ground.
  2. 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.
  3. Do not mix the oil with anything else, such as antifreeze, solvent, or paint.
  4. Take used motor oil to a service station or other location that collects used motor oil for recycling.
Find out more about how you can responsibly manage used oil at home , or what you must do at your business to handle used oil.

If you are one of the many people who change their own motor oil, you too need to know how to properly dispose of the used oil to protect the environment AND to avoid committing a crime!  Did you know that the used oil from one oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water - a years' supply for 50 people!

On average, about four million people reuse motor oil as a lubricant for other equipment or take it to a recycling facility. Become used motor oil recycler number four million and one!

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You Dump It, You Drink It Campaign

Erik Estrada's public service announcements on radio encouraging used oil recycling

As part of its ongoing effort to educate all Americans on environmental responsibility, EPA recently launched the "You Dump It, You Drink It" campaign, aimed at the Hispanic automotive repair and service industry and consumers. Despite the fact that about half of all automotive mechanics in the United States are Hispanic, little if any Spanish-language material exists for the automotive repair industry and those consumers who change their own motor oil. EPA hopes to fill this void through a widescale distribution of these materials, which include posters, brochures and bumper stickers.

The "You Dump It, You Drink It" campaign focuses on the proper management of used motor oil and includes a variety of free, printed information materials that are available in both Spanish and English. The materials were developed over a 12-month period, using information collected during a series of focus groups, one-on-one and telephone interviews, and on-the-job observations of employees in major Hispanic population centers.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, available as a free download, to view some of the files on this page. See the PDF page to learn more about PDF, and for a link to the free Acrobat Reader.

Materials in the "You Dump It, You Drink It" campaign include:

You can also order the "You Dump It, You Drink It" materials online through our Publications Page .

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Used Oil Management Publications

Home and Consumers


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Rules, Notices and Regulations


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Regulations Related to Used Oil   from the Code of Federal Regulations

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Related Links

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This page was updated on 18-Apr-2015