Oil Recycling Rant...

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Oct 12, 2005
Considering how important it is to recycle oil, not only for environmental reasons but for oil dependency issues also, why do so many auto parts places act so reluctant to take used oil? I live in an area where there are only three places to buy oil: Advanced Auto, Autozone & Walmart. First off, my Walmart doesn't take back used oil because they don't have an oil-change/auto service facility. Considering I buy most of my oil products there because they beat the auto chains on price, that sucks. However, I don't buy my filters at Walmart...I buy them at the other two places. Thus, after an oil change, I take my used oil there and buy a new filter for my next service. What kills me is that neither place wants to take oil back...they make a major production out of it. It's not like I'm sitting an oily milk jug on the counter and walking off. Rather, I just want to pour the stuff into their recycling container myself and be on my way. But it's always this major production...sighs, asking me if I bought the oil there, telling me that they don't dispose of used filters, etc. Now I understand that they can't just have a big container out back since people could put all kinds of crap in there. However, there has to be a better way to encourage people to do the right thing with their used oil.

Does anybody else catch any flack when they try to recycle their oil? Do the major chains accept used oil voluntarily or is it a state/federal mandate?

I wouldn't mind paying a small charge for someone to accept this oil, but only if I had an assurance that it was being disposed of properly. Last time I was at Advanced Auto, the kid I gave my oil fitler to launched it over the fence surrounding their dumpsters...which really ****** me off.
I would look into what your state EPA says. If they are charging you a "disposal/enviromental" fee at time of purchase, then I think they have to provide a disposal service. While there is federal gudielines, each state is different.

I take all my used oil to a county facility here in Sacramento,CA. I've noticed that the local Kragens all have posted on their front doors that they take used oil for recycling. But then again, this is California.

Those other stores are probably reluctant to take oil because they probably get more oil back to recycle than they sell, thanks to the Walmart influence. And they realize it. Walmart gets the oil sale, and they get the cleanup. Reminds me of back in the 60s/70s when I worked for an independent grocery store, back when soda bottles had deposits. We'd get bottles in that were sold at the chain stores, but people would bring it in to us for the deposit when cleaning out the garage. Filthy bottles, dust, spider webs, dirt. Reject them because they were too dirty to handle, if they weren't familiar customers.

[ October 18, 2005, 02:42 PM: Message edited by: ediamiam ]
I'm in nothern NJ and take my oil and antifreeze to the county recycling center. It's the only thing they don't charge for
. For the last 7++ years gas stations and other places that collect used oil have been having to pay to have it hauled away. Maybe that's why they are reluctant to take your used oil if you're not buying oil from them. It used to be free to have the old oil hauled away. Maybe with today's high prices for oil it'll be free again
. In NJ I believe if you are an oil change facility or oil sales are a certain percentage of your business then you must accept used oil for recycling.

I believe as others have stated that is is a requirement that if you sell oil (over a certain volume) you must accept it back to be recycled. You can charge but I've only had one place attempt that. The only time I've ever had a problem is when "the barrel is full".

the quickie lubes just have you pour it in the collection tray of an open bay, but mostly i take it in closed jugs to the place where i bought it, O'Reiley's AutoParts. I find if they are familiar with you (ie a frequent customer), they'll even take it when the "barrel full" sign is out.
I believe the requirement is that if you sell oil you have to take used oil, OR provide the location of a place that does.

It takes a while, but I really haven't gotten any flack around here.
Easy here. They heat the DPW garage next to the transfer station with a waste oil furnace.

I would check your community recycling info sheet for what to do.
I just yelled at a guy I know on Sunday for tossing the old oil in a dumpster.
A couple of us were watching the game on Sunday when car care came up for some reason and he said that he changed his own oil. One of the other guys asked what he did with the old oil.
He lives in a new housing plan so he tells us he finds a construction dumpster and throws the old bottled oil in. Funny the houses start at $200K and this lazy SOB throws it in a dumpster. All he talks about is the BIG money he makes. It must not be so big he can't afford to drive less than 1 mile down the road to the Advance Auto Parts to dispose of the oil. Don't get me started I'm still fuming over his laziness. I almost called the Boro he lives in and reported it.
I saw a sign at the Auto Zone that is near me stating that they accept used oil. I've never brought any there, so I don't know the procedures, but for all the GC I bought there I should be allowed to return some after use.
If you have an AZ near you, you might check out their return policy.
I'd like to see a significant deposit on oil, like $3 a litre. Then it would be worthwhile to anyone to recycle the oil and vehicles that burn a lot of oil can pay an "environmental fee" to the rest of us.

Originally posted by rpn453:
I'd like to see a significant deposit on oil, like $3 a litre.

At that price one could be money ahead by making up for burned oil with vegetable oil. I can buy peanut oil locally for $1.32/litre in 5 gallon containers. I could probably find less desirable vegetable oils for less without looking very hard.
I'm lucky, the local garbage company supplies you with a container, a very nice ziplock bag for the filter and picks it all up at the curb as part of normal garbage service. also all of the dumps around here are hazardous waste collection points, I can drop off 15 gallons per month for free and no hassle from them. some of the local parts stores take oil, but not all of them.

I like the idea of a recyling deposit. maybe they could work it like they do cans and bottles. everyone pays up front and you get some back when you take it in. then even the homeless people would be looking for oil to recycle!

I've seen used oil spontaniously combust and start a fire in a dumpster.
One problem with a recycling deposit is that you may see people adding other, possibly hazardous, materials to the mix to enhance the deal.... paint thinner, brake fluid. Not a very big deal, but I was told that the volatiles can be hazardous to the recycling facility.

I too am lucky. They let me dump used oil at work. Very convenient. Also, the city has a facility for collecting used oil. I urge my neighbors to give me any used oil - I consider it a civic and neighborly thing to do.
I'm now bringing my oil to the city recycling center, but I used to bring it to Autozone. At AZ, the only things they ever wanted to know were that it was just oil (trans fluid was OK, too) and how many quarts you were dumping. I never got any flack from them. The city center is even better. You just drive up to the tank and start pouring. There's no one to ask you any questions, not that I dump anything I'm not supposed to.

Originally posted by tom slick:
I've seen used oil spontaniously combust and start a fire in a dumpster.

How'd you get it to do that?

If the problem of people improperly disposing of used oil becomes big enough, then maybe what we'll see is a licensing program to buy oil, like there is with Freon.

Originally posted by Tosh:


Originally posted by tom slick:
I've seen used oil spontaniously combust and start a fire in a dumpster.

How'd you get it to do that?

If the problem of people improperly disposing of used oil becomes big enough, then maybe what we'll see is a licensing program to buy oil, like there is with Freon.

a nice hot day, the oil spills just right in the dumpster.....poof! very similar to the way that linseed oil soaked rags burn down lots of homes each year. we had a fire at work from linseed oil soaked rags combusting. we also had an entire neighborhood burn down due to some construction workers leaving rags in the corner of a garage.

BTW it wasn't me that dumped the oil
I thought that linseed oil, paint, etc. generated heat because they oxidize/cure and because of this could start a fire in piled up (insulated) rags. I didn't think motor oil was reactive enough to do this.
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