Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Protect Drinking Water- Recycle Oil

Each year in the U.S., millions of gallons of used motor oil are improperly disposed.  Improper disposal can result in contamination of lakes, rivers, and groundwater supplies.  The oil from one oil change can pollute one million gallons of drinking water.  Aquatic life doesn’t do well in the oil mix either.  It’s great if people are able to take on doing their own oil changes on their vehicles.  They can save a lot of money doing so.  The final step of the home oil change should be to disposal of the oil properly.  In Superior, the Municipal Landfill on Moccasin Mike Road accepts the used oil and filters at no cost.  You would need to bring the oil in a clean container or use the container the oil came in.  Places where oil changes are done (that’s Wal-Mart, Benna Ford and the assorted shops including Valvoline) as well as O’Reilly auto parts stores accept it.
Oil never wears out.  It just needs to be cleaned. The recycled oil is cleaned up and made into lubricating oils that are as good as new, non-recycled motor oil.  Some used oil is processed and burned as heat or to generate electricity for homes, schools and businesses.  Como Oil & Lube in Duluth collects oil from the collection locations in the Twin Ports.  About two million gallons are collected per year in our area with about half coming from Superior.  It’s great that the places doing the oil changes and the collection centers (such as the Superior Landfill or WLSSD in Duluth) have a pickup service agreement with Como Oil and Lube to help the oil go on to a new life.  For all the home oil-changers, it’s up to you to get the used oil to a collection center.  Please do not empty it in a storm drain because most of those drains go directly to a local stream, bay or Lake Superior.  You also shouldn’t bury the oil in your yard as that also can contaminate water.  Just putting the oil in a sealed container in the trash is also illegal.  As of January 1, 2011, used oil filters, absorbents, and containers are banned from landfills per Wisconsin Administrative Code. Used waste oil was banned from disposal into licensed landfills prior to that.
With doing research for this blog, I also learned that the U.S. Postal Service and National Park Service used re-refined oil in their vehicle fleets.  Re-refining is energy efficient and about 2.5 quarts of re-refined, high-quality, lubricating oil can be produced from one gallon of used oil.   It takes 42 gallons of crude oil to make the 2.5 quarts of re-refined lubricating oil.
Listed below are more resources associated with used oil recycling.  Please be sure to fix any oil leaks in your vehicle promptly.  It just makes sense.  Cars also go through tires and batteries – guess what?  These are also not allowed in landfills and need to be disposed of properly as well.  You can check out the laws pertaining to disposal of other items at the website:
For more information on motor oil recycling, go to

-Written by Wendy Grethen

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