Why Have a Used Oil Program?

Used Oil Is A Valuable Resource

  • Used oil can be re-refined as a lubricating oil, used as a clean fuel and reprocessed to create many petroleum-based products. Recycling it saves this non-renewable resource for future use.
  • One gallon of used oil can be re-refined into 2.5 quarts of lubricating oil. It takes 42 gallons of crude oil to produce this same amount of lubricating oil.

Improperly Disposed Of, It’s Harmful

  • America’s worst oil spill was not in Alaska. It is spread all over the U.S. The EPA estimates that 200 million gallons of used oil are dumped on the ground, tossed in the trash (ending up in landfills), and poured down storm sewers and drains every year.
  • Just one gallon of used oil, the amount from a single small auto engine, has the potential to contaminate up to one million gallons of fresh water – a year’s supply for 50 people.
  • A single gallon of used oil will create an eight-acre oil slick.
  • Used oil can be more of a problem than new oil because of the contaminants that used oil contains. These contaminants have been linked to bronchitis; adverse impacts on human fetal development; lethal toxicity to plants and animals; and human cancers of the skin, lung , liver, bladder, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract.
  • Used oil that is dumped on the ground or is put in storm drains can contaminate ground water which can be very difficult to cleanup.
  • Used oil in surface water has the potential to harm wildlife by depleting the oxygen supply for fish and other aquatic life, and by hindering the ability of birds to fly.
  • When plants are grown in soil or fed by water contaminated by used oil, they absorb (bioaccumulate) high concentrations of heavy metals. One of the indirect risks of such environmental dangers is the poisoning of the food chain, which ultimately affects human health.


For more information about the Used Oil Program, please contact Ted Sonnenburg (tsonnenburg@utah.gov), (385) 499-0980.

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