Properly Managing Used Oil Filters
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate used oil that is being recycled or certain types of used oil filters as hazardous waste. Instead, used oil handlers follow a set of federal management standards (40 CFR Part 279) that are designed to encourage the recycling of used oil. EPA also supports the recycling of properly drained used oil filters and their parts. Whole filters and their parts contain reusable scrap metal with high BTU content, which makes them recyclable as scrap feed for steel production, for example.
Used oil filters usually can be taken the same recycling centers that accept used oil. If no local facilities recycle oil filters, drained filters normally can be wrapped in newspaper and disposed of with regular household trash. (Individuals should check with their local trash collection service before discarding filters because some states don’t allow used oil filters to be disposed of in landfills).
Because used oil is a harmful pollutant, all oil should be drained from used filters before they are recycled or disposed of. Draining the used oil will prevent any leakage into the environment. Follow this checklist to properly drain an oil filter.
- If necessary, use a filter wrench to loosen the old oil filter. Carefully remove it.
Protect the environment by taking your used oil and the empty oil filter to your nearest public used oil collection center. Look for the “oil drop,” which is a petroleum industry symbol indicating that used oil is collected for recycling/reuse. Contacts
For more information on used oil filters or to find a recycling collection program in your area that accepts used oil filters, call the RCRA Hotline. The Hotline can provide the name, address, and phone number of the person in your state to contact for more information on recycling used oil. The Hotline is open Monday-Friday; 8;30 am. to 7;30 p.m. EST. The national, toll-free number is (800) 424-9346; TDD (800) 553-7672 (hearing impaired).
Information on recycling used oil and used oil filters also can be found in the following EPA publications:
Used Oil Recycling Used Oil and Filters: Tips for Consumers Who Change Their Own Oil (EPA530-F-94-008)
How to Set Up a Local Program To Recycle Used Oil (EPA530-SW-89-039a)
Write for copies from:
RCRA Information Center (RIC)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Solid Waste (5305)
401 M Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20460
Phone orders are accepted by the RCRA Hotline at the above number.
Source: US EPA, Solid Waste and Emergency Response
Web Page produced by CCAR®
Last Update – 20-Mar-97
- The most effective way to drain a filter is to carefully puncture a hole in the dome end of the filter or through the antidrain back valve with a suitable tool, such as a screwdriver. Puncturing the filter breaks the vacuum and allows the “trapped” oil to be recovered for recycling. (Antidrain back valves are contained in most automotive filter models. The valve consists of a rubber flap that creates a vacuum to prevent oil from draining back into the engine when it is not running.)
- Turn the filter upside down in a used oil collection container, such as a drip pan. Drain as much oil as possible from the filter. For best results, drain used oil filters for a minimum of 12 hours at an approximate temperature of 60°F. (Oil filters also may be drained without puncturing them, and at cooler temperatures. The time required to effectively remove the used oil will take longer than 12 hours.)
- Use a funnel or carefully pour the used oil from the drip pan into a clean container appropriate for recycling the oil. Don’t rinse the residual oil from the container down the drain; simply reuse the pan when you change your oil or oil filter again.