Protect Our Soil:Recycle Used Oil

happy winners at fair in 2011

A group of visitors to the Public Works oil recycling booth at the 2011 Mariposa County Fair goes home happy with an armload of prizes and promises to keep recycling their oil. The booth was funded by a grant from the Department of resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) and sponsored by the Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority (ESJPA).

Why Recycle Motor Oil?

There are many reasons to recycle used motor oil. Re-refining used oil requires about 1/3 less energy than processing it from crude oil and results in a product that is at least as good as, if not better than, virgin oil, according to the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). And, because it takes just two gallons of used oil compared to 84 gallons of crude oil to produce a single gallon of clean motor oil, recycling is an easy, economical way to conserve dwindling petroleum resources. Used motor oil can also be recycled an infinite number of times.

How Often?

So, how often should motor oil be changed? CalRecycle states that the notion that it should be changed every 3,000 miles is a “myth” and suggests that drivers follow their car manufacturer’s recommendations. About 75% of California drivers currently change their oil more often than the manufacturer suggests. Each year, approximately 154 million gallons of used oil are generated in California and only 59% of that is recycled. Changing the oil less often saves money and results in less waste oil that can harm the environment.

Dangers of Improper Disposal

Improperly disposing of oil by pouring it onto the ground, down drains or into the trash will pollute surface and ground water as well as the soil. Just one gallon of used oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of drinking water. State law, which classifies motor oil as a hazardous waste, requires that oil and oil filters be disposed of at a certified oil recycling collection center. Mariposa County has several such centers for the convenience of local do-it-yourself oil changers. The following locations accept used, uncontaminated motor oil and filters for recycling:

  • Mariposa County Landfill and Recycling Center - 5593 Highway 49 North, Mariposa. Open Tues - Sat, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday and holidays. Mariposa County residents only; 209-966-5165; Solid Waste
  • Lake Don Pedro Transfer Station - 9729 Merced Fall Road, La Grange. Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m to Noon and 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Monday through Wednesday, Friday and holidays. Mariposa County residents only; 209-852-9692; Solid Waste
  • Mariposa Yosemite Airport - 5020 Macready Way (Off Highway 49N), Mariposa. Open daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through November, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. December through March. Ask for assistance in the lobby; 209-966-2143
  • NAPA Auto Parts - 4901 Joe Howard Road Mariposa. Open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 209-966-3697
  • Greeley Hill True Value - 6364 Greeley Hill Road Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; 209-878-3414

Motor oil mixed with fluids such as antifreeze, gas or solvents is considered contaminated and cannot be left for recycling. Safely store contaminated oil in a watertight container for disposal at the next Household Hazardous Waste Event.

This program is funded by a grant from CalRecycle. For more information about oil recycling go to California Recycling Website.