Motor oils are highly toxic substances which can do great harm to groundwater, waterways, and wildlife. Motor oils should never be poured down a drain, flushed down a toilet, dumped down a storm drain, thrown in the trash, recycling or yard waste carts, nor left to run out on the ground. Remember, it is dangerous and illegal to place any oil wastes, dangerous substances or hazardous material for garbage collection. (Code of Ordinances Article I Sec. 24-25)
When properly disposed, motor oils have high value and are highly re-usable. According to the American Petrolium Institute, recycling two gallons of motor oil generates enough electricity to power the average house for 24 hours. Oil filters are also highly recyclable and can be used to manufacture building materials. The City of Fort Lauderdale accepts motor oil and oil filters at Household Hazardous Waste events. Please follow these guidelines for use and disposal.
- Check your vehicle routinely for oil leaks. If you notice a leak, have your vehicle serviced immediately.
- Clean all oil spills, inside and outside, quickly and thoroughly.
- Kitty litter, or commerical clay absorbants available at home improvement and auto parts stores, are inexpensive and effective for cleaning oil spills. Apply a generous layer of the product over the spill and allow it to soak up the oil for several hours.
- Sweep up the kitty litter and bag.
- Apply a layer of dishwashing detergent to any remaining stain. (On unpainted concrete surfaces only, a mixture of dishwashing detergent and bleach can be used.) Scrub!
- Wipe up the dirty cleaning solution with paper towels and dispose. Never hose down the solution and this can create toxic run-off.
- If you service your own vehicle for routine maintenance such as checking your oil or doing oil and filter changes, please use proper containers to catch all used oil and to prevent runoff of used or new oils. Consider covering the ground with absorbent paper (such as old newspapers) to soak up accidental spills.
- Store oil containers properly according to directions on the bottles. Check the bottles for leaks, and dispose properly of any leaking containers.
- Motor oils can be returned to many auto parts vendors and mechanics, and even some gas stations. Most chains participate in oil collection and recycling programs. These vendors are eager to collect your used oils as there is value in it for them. However, they are looking for pure oils, not oils mixed with other substances. Be sure to pour used all into another empty oil container or into a clean container. An inexpensive plastic funnel is a helpful tool.
- City of Fort Lauderdale residents may bring motor oils and used oil filters, as well as other automotive fluids and gasoline, to Household Hazardous Waste events.
Learn more with these resources.
The FDEP has administered a used oil management program since 1984. Under this program, professionals and consumers can learn to safely handle motor oil. Their "Bring Every Quart Back" program encourages Floridians to increase the amount of oil recycling that we do, which is currently only at about 35%. Use a searchable directory of Public Used Oil Collection Centers to find registered disposal centers in Fort Lauderdale and beyond. You can also call the department at 1-800-741-4DEP.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) is the national trade association that represents America’s oil and natural gas industry. Their website on recycling and collection of used oil is aimed at consumers and is user-friendly. There you can find out the benefits of oil recycling, how it is done, and what happens to the recycled product. API also links to a searchable directory of recycling centers.