The Spring and Summer seasons bring us a display of colors and beautiful landscapes. Similarly, these months of hot weather invite us to make improvements in the house, to work in the garden, or in the case of many Do-It-Yourself Oil Changers and auto enthusiast, this is the perfect time to change the oil and filters in their cars. This is an important reminder that an oil change is not finished until the used oil and filters have been properly recycled.
Used motor oil is a hazardous waste that should never be discarded in trash, poured into storm drains, or dumped into the ground. If you do accidentally spill oil on the ground, stop and clean it up before it enters a storm drain. Because there is no treatment system inside the storm drains, everything that enters the storm drain system flows directly into our creeks and the watershed, including used motor oil. A single gallon of used motor oil can contaminate one million gallons of water creating health risks and generating environmental impacts that can affect our entire community. In addition, it is illegal to pour used oil on the ground and you may receive some fines by discarding it incorrectly.
Recycling used motor oil and filters is the only safe way to discard it. It is also easy, convenient, and free. Oil and filters can be recycled at collection centers in Sonoma County, it can be collected on the curb and can also be collected at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility. Choose the option that is the most convenient for you!
Recycle Your Used Motor Oil and Filters at a Collection Center
Collection centers are local companies that accept used motor oil and filters during their customer service hours. There are nearly 50 collection centers in Sonoma County, and they accept the used oil and filters for free. Some sites even offer a 40-cent rebate per gallon of used motor oil collected. These sites typically accept up to 5 gallons of used oil and two filters per visit. Collection centers in Sonoma County can be found by visiting ZeroWasteSonoma.gov and you can visit CalRecycle’s website (www2.calrecycle.ca.gov/UsedOil/CertifiedCenters) to find locations in Mendocino County.
It is important to remember never to mix the used motor oil with any other material (including water, solvents, or gasoline). These sites will not accept contaminated oil, which causes their used motor oil to become non-recyclable, and it is very costly to clean contaminated tanks.
Take Advantage of the Curbside Used Motor Oil and Filters Recycling Program
This option is only available for single-family homes; apartment complexes do not have this service. Curbside used motor oil and filter recycling is available in all cities and in the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County. You are encouraged to call your local hauler for details and to order this service. Town of Windsor residents can call Sonoma County Resource Recovery at (707) 795‑7470 to get more information. Recology Sonoma-Marin garbage collection provides curbside collection to the rest of the County and unincorporated areas, and they can be contacted at (800) 243‑0291.
When you are ready to recycle your used motor oil and filters using the curbside used motor oil recycling option, pour the used oil inside the container provided by your collection company, and put the drained filter in a Ziplock plastic bag. Then, place the oil container and the filter next to the recycling bin the day of your weekly collection. The hauler that serves your area will collect the used motor oil and filter and will leave you an empty container for you to use for the next oil change.
Recycle Your Used Motor Oil and Filters at the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Programs
Zero Waste Sonoma’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility (zerowastesonoma.gov/recycle-dispose/residents/household-hazardous-waste-facility) is conveniently located at 500 Mecham Road in Petaluma for Sonoma County residents. This site accepts up to 15 gallons of used motor oil per visit and also accepts the filters. This is the only place that can accept contaminated used motor oil, but you should inform the staff when you arrive. Apart from accepting used motor oil and filters, the HHW Facility also accepts other hazardous wastes including fluorescent lamps, paints, solvents, paint thinners, adhesives, pesticides, batteries, and other engine fluids to name a few The facility is open Thursday-Saturday 7:30am-2:30pm for free drop off from Sonoma County residents. Zero Waste Sonoma also provides free HHW Collection Events every Tuesday evening at a different location across Sonoma County and offers an HHW Rover pick-up program for a small fee (https://zerowastesonoma.gov/recycle-dispose/residents/hhw-collection-events).
Similar programs are offered to Mendocino County residents by MendoRecycle.org. Residents can bring used motor oil and filters to their Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility at 3200 Taylor Drive in Ukiah and they also provide frequent HazMobile HHW events throughout the county.
If you are one of those Do-It-Yourself oil changers that will be working on the car this summer, please remember that the oil change is not complete until the used motor oil and filters have been recycled. No matter what part of the county you live in, there are convenient and free used motor oil and filter recycling options near you. Visit www.zerowastesonoma.gov, www.mendorecycle.org, or call Zero Waste Sonoma’s Eco-Desk at 707-565-3375 for more information.