SAN MATEO, California – Would you like to help reduce the rate of pollution of our waterways by almost half and, in the process, save a lot of money in car maintenance at the same time?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nearly 40% ofthe pollution in America’s waterways is from used motor oil and that just a gallon of used motor oil can pollute up to a million–a million–gallons of natural water. If Americans could be more conscientious with the proper disposal of used motor oil and knowledgeable about their vehicles’ oil change requirements, we could reduce the rate of pollution of our waterways by almost half and, at the same time, save money from less frequent oil changes. And that is why California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), the state’s leading authority and central hub for recycling and waste management, has launched its “Check Your Number” Campaign.
In these difficult economic times, everyone is looking for ways and means to extend the life of his or her vehicle by being religious about its maintenance. Many are doing much of the maintenance work themselves to save a few dollars and the most common maintenance item vehicle owners do themselves is the oil change. Mark Oldfield, Acting Deputy Director of the Office of Public Affairs of CalRecycle states that about 11% of the American motoring public change their own oil. He further states that this number goes higher–even as high as 17%–in less affluent neighborhoods.
CalRecyce is reaching out to all Californians but more specifically to the do-it-yourself oil changers, with its “Check Your Number” Campaign, a creative new public education initiative that has two (2) primary goals. The first is to encourage Californians to look up the recommended oil change interval for their specific vehicle instead of defaulting to the old standard of 3,000 miles. With today’s technologies, many car makers confirm that automobiles can now maintain top performance and engine life while going longer between oil changes. Thus, it makes economic and environmental sense to “check your number” and be sure you are not changing your oil too soon and unnecessarily wasting money and resources.
The second goal is to inform Californians of the proper way to collect and recycle used motor oil and filters. Used oil never wears out and can be recycled, cleaned, and used again and motor oil poured into
the ground or into storm drains or tossed into trashed cans—even in sealed containers—can
contaminate the soil, groundwater, streams, and rivers. That is why improper disposal of used motor is illegal and punishable with fines up to $1,000. There are many free, local resources available throughout the state to help vehicle owners and drivers do their part in keeping harmful toxins out of the groundwater.
Used oil filters can also be recycled. Vehicle owner should drain their used oil filters and seal them in a leak-proof container such as a zipper-sealed plastic bag or a coffee can with a lid. Filters can be taken with used motor oil to certified collection centers for recycling or to a Hazardous Waste Collection event. They can also take them to Certified Collection Centers (CCCs) such as gas stations, auto parts stores such as Kragen, AutoZone, Pep Boys, etc., or quick lube outlets such as Jiffy Lube, EZ Lube, etc. Some cities will even pick up uncontaminated used motor oil and filters curbside. (Please check with your local garbage collection service provider to find out if and when they offer this service.)
This statewide initiative includes strategic partnerships, special events in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Kern County, advertising, public relations and even a new website— www.CheckYourNumber.org —all designed to make it easy for the public to “check their number” and be better informed about the smart and responsible time and way to handle their next oil change. There is also a phone number to call and that is 1-800-RECYCLE (1-800-732-9253) to learn more. For do-it-yourself oil changers, the website is www.checkyournumber.org/DIYers.
One item to note: regular collection centers will not accept contaminated used motor oil–meaning used motor oil that has been mixed other fluids such as antifreeze, solvents, gasoline, or water. Contaminated used oil has to be brought to a Household Waste site or event in one’s local area. A number of cities and counties host used oil and filter collection events. There is also a list of collection centers in local areas that will accept contaminated oil. That list can be found in a website supplied by CalRecycle’s Mr. Oldfield, and that is: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/UsedOil/Handling/Contaminated/WhereToTake.htm
Oldfield summarizes the overall message of the CalRecycle “Check Your Number” Campaign in this one sentence: “Be knowledgeable about your oil change and you might even save some money.”