"Where do I take my used oil?" Every time a private citizen changes oil in his car they ask this question. The "shade tree mechanic" contributes mightily to the 1.2 billion gallons of used oil generated each year in the United States. Because of the obstacles to proper disposal, used oil is often placed in sewers, landfills, vacant lots, or streams where its ingredients cause environmental damage. Louisiana citizens own and maintain over four million private automobiles, trucks, and other vehicles. Each vehicle generates at least 2.5 gallons of used oil per year. Statistics show that about one-half of the vehicle owners maintain their vehicles and that no more than 15 percent will recycle their oil. Conservatively, this exceeds five million gallons of used oil per year placed into the environment in landfills, sewers, waterways, and vacant lots.
"What makes discarded used oil so bad?" Used oil contains heavy metals and other harmful contaminants.
"Why should we recycle used oil?" Used oil contains contaminants which may be harmful to the environment and it is a very good source of energy. We waste energy when we discard used oil into the environment.
"What happens to used oil after it's collected for recycling?" Used oil may be refined into lubricating oil or blended for use as an environmentally acceptable fuel.
"Where can used oil be collected?"
Voluntary Collection Centers. Over 200 Louisiana locations have volunteered to collect used oil from the public. Major participants are from companies such as Texaco, Wal-Mart, EXXON, Speedy Oil Change and Tune-Up, Jiffy Lube, Minit Oil Change, and The Oil Exchange.
Employee Used Oil Recycling Programs. Many large companies have established used oil collection programs to accept do-it-yourself (DIY) oil from their employees. Large employers are in the unique position of being able to provide this valuable employee service, which protects the environment. A single collection location established by such a program may reach several thousand employees. Employer collection programs presently serve over 14,000 employees of Louisiana companies.
Landfill Collection Centers. Operators of both municipal and commercial landfills have installed tanks to accept used oil from the public. Removing used oil from the municipal wastes accepted by landfills reduces the potential impact of used motor oil on the groundwater under municipal landfills.
Agricultural and Small Business Collection Centers. The Louisiana State University Cooperative Extension Service is working with the Department of Environmental Quality to establish a program to accept used oil from farmers and small businesses.
Many good reasons exist to recycle used oil and many bad reasons exist not to recycle used oil. Each square foot of the earth is precious; the smaller the environmental insult to each square foot, the greater the overall quality of life for all the rest of the planet. We must each do our part to recycle energy resources and reduce our impact on the environment. Make an extra effort to find a collection point for your used oil.
The Department of Environmental Quality asks any business operator who is collecting used oil for recycling or wishes to provide this valuable service to contact DEQ at (800)305-6621 / (225)219-3421 or by mail to:
Department of Environmental Quality
P. O. Box 4313
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4313