Used Motor Oil Recycling

Oil is a non-renewable and dwindling global resource, one that most of us depend on every day. Under state law, used oil is classified as a hazardous waste and must either be recycled or disposed or properly.

Currently, more than half of the used oil collected in California is shipped out of state or offshore to be burned as fuel, resulting in toxic air pollution (such as phosphates, sulfur, and heavy metals including zinc, cadmium, copper, lead and benzene) and CO2 being released into the atmosphere. California's strict air emissions standards do not allow the burning of used oil.

California generates more than 100 million gallons of waste oil each year, with currently only 10 percent of that used oil being recycled to produce lubricants in a closed loop preventing both human health and environmental impacts. The production of lubricating oil from used motor oil requires one third the energy to refine crude oil.

Existing law also requires the CalRecycle to pay a recycling incentive to entities that collect used oil and transport it to a used oil recycling facility. The board is also required to pay a recycling incentive to an electric utility for using used lubricating oil meeting specified requirements for electrical generation. An entity that generates used oil or a facility that accepts used oil is required to transport the used oil to a certified used oil facility or a registered out-of-state recycling facility.

What We Can Do to Change Existing Law

  • Creating financial incentives to ensure automotive and industrial lubricants sold in the state will contain a minimum content by volume of re-refined oil.
  • Manufacturers will be required to document re-refined oil content usage.
  • Ensure re-refined oil meets all industry standards as defined by the American Petroleum institute.
  • Ensure that CA is not exporting toxics that can release toxic air pollution.