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It's enough to make you sick. Don't pollute our water -- recycle used motor oil.
Oil changes for automobiles and light trucks produce over 600 million gallons of used oil annually. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over 200 million gallons of this oil is tossed into the trash, spilled onto the ground or poured down drains and sewers each year.
The catastrophic EXXON Valdez spill was small compared to the amount of oil dumped into backyards, ditches and farm fields by do-it-yourself (DIY) oil changers.
Americans change over 400 million oil filters a year! These filters have a high steel content and additional motor oil, both easily recycled. If all of the oil filters manufactured in 1994 had been recycled, an estimated 161,500 tons of steel could have been recovered and 17.8 million gallons of used oil would have been kept out of our fields and waterways.
Unfortunately, most used oil filters are not recycled, so the oil they contain is released into the environment. Ninety percent of do-it-yourselfers (DIYs) throw their filters in the trash, sending about 10 million gallons of used oil to landfills every year.
Community household hazardous waste collection programs and many retailers accept used motor oil and used oil filters from residents. IDEM provides a list of Solid Waste Management Districts and household hazardous waste programs [PDF]. Earth 911 lists community collections, private recyclers and private retailers that accept used oil (such as Walmart Tire and Lube Express, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Pep Boys, and Tractor Supply). When visiting the Earth 911 website, click on the “Find a Recycling Center” icon and search under the key word “automotive” near your city or town.
U.S. cars generate over 60 million gallons of used antifreeze each year. Most antifreeze contains the poisonous chemical ethylene glycol. Like motor oil, used antifreeze also collects hazardous contaminants from the engine during use. Antifreeze has a sweet taste, which attracts children and pets. It may cause injury or death through ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption. Over 4,884 people were treated for antifreeze poisoning in 2000, and sixteen died.
In the past, disposal of used ethylene glycol has included treating it as a hazardous waste, discharging it Into municipal sewer systems, or illegally pouring it into dry wells and storm drains. These methods of disposal are no longer necessary because now antifreeze can be recycled easily and inexpensively.