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Recycling Used Motor Oil

Used oil is a valuable resource. Motor oil is the only petroleum product that can be reused. Recycling it can protect the environment and public health, and save energy and non-renewable petroleum resources.

Waste oil has the largest environmental impact of all automotive products because it is insoluble in water, persistent, and laced with toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Used oil is often improperly discarded in the back yard, in the landfill, or down the storm drain, where it makes its way into drinking water or marine waters.

Where can used motor oil be recycled in Clallam County?

Used oil is accepted at the following locations during normal operating hours at no cost:

  • Port Angeles Regional Transfer Station
  • Port of Port Angeles – Boat Haven East, Boat Haven West, and John Wayne Marina
  • Blue Mountain Transfer Station, Port Angeles
  • City of Sequim Maintenance Yard (must be resident of Sequim)
  • Jiffy Lube, Port Angeles & Sequim
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts, Port Angeles & Sequim
  • Wal-Mart, Sequim
  • West Waste & Recycling, Forks

Used Oil Recycling Graphic

What are the possible health and environmental effects?

During use, new oil picks up toxic chemicals, cancer-causing hydrocarbons, and heavy metals which harm the environment and public health when used oil is disposed of improperly.

One pint of oil can produce a slick covering approximately one acre of water. As the oil enters the environment, it sticks to everything from beach sand to bird feathers. It is slow to evaporate, and will float for a long time, polluting waterways. One gallon of used oil can contaminate one million gallons of water.

Used oil can seep through old, unlined landfills and soils to contaminate groundwater supplies. Burning unprocessed used oil can pollute the air with chemicals that are potentially harmful to human health. Reprocessing removes heavy metals and some other contaminants from used oil.

How big is the problem?

Used oil is the largest single source of oil pollution (over 40 percent) in U.S. waterways. It is estimated that more than 200 million gallons of used motor oil are discarded improperly each year in the U.S. by citizens who change their own oil. Each year in Washington State, more than 4.5 million gallons of used oil are discarded without being recycled. In 2010, 17,600 gallons of used oil were collected in Clallam County.

How is used oil recycled?

The best way to recycle used oil is re-refining. The old oil is cleaned and additives are added. This process results in a "good as new" product. While it takes 42 gallons of crude oil to make 2½ quarts of new oil. It only takes 1 gallon of used oil to make the same high-quality 2½ quarts of lubricating oil. About 150 million gallons of used oil are re-refined each year.

Eighty-five percent of returned oil is also burned as fuel. Reprocessing removes the toxic components of the oil so it can be burned. One gallon of reprocessed used oil yields about 140,000 BTUs of energy.

How to recycle used motor oil:
If you have your oil changed by a service station, the station will recycle your used oil for you. This may be the easiest way to ensure your oil is recycled.Recycle Oil

When changing your own motor oil:

  • Consult your owner's manual for proper procedures on how to change your vehicle's oil.
  • Collect used oil in a suitable catch basin or recycling container. Transfer oil into a suitable clean container (a gallon milk jug will do) for easy and safe transportation to an oil collection facility near you. Don't use any absorbent material in the container, because this will make the oil impossible to reclaim.
  • Do not mix your used oil with antifreeze, engine degreasers, gasoline, paint thinner, solvents, cooking oil, etc. These non-motor oil substances interfere with the reprocessing and re-refining processes.
  • Take your used oil to an oil collection facility. Look for the oil drop symbol indicating that used oil is collected for recycling/reuse.

Where can re-refined oil be purchased in Clallam County?

Several retail outlets throughout Clallam County sell re-refined motor oil. Ask your local retail outlet to carry re-refined oil.

The above information is adapted from materials by the Washington State Department of Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For additional information about recycling, call 1-800-RECYCLE or visit Ecology´s 1-800 RECYCLE webpage. The City of Port Angeles also has local information on recycling in their annually updated Recyclopedia flyer.

If you have additional questions about disposal options for your business, please contact Environmental Health using our email form or call us at 360-417-2258.

Clallam County Health & Human Services
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