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Used Engine Oil Gets Recycled by 95 Percent of Auto Repair Shops and Parts Stores

aaia (select to view enlarged photo)

BETHESDA, MD--Oct. 11, 2011: Engine oil is the lifeblood of the automobile, and a regular oil change is critical to keep your vehicle running properly, but what happens to all the used engine oil after it's drained from your car? According to a study by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), engine oil is recycled by 95 percent of auto repair shops and the parts stores that accept used engine oil.

"Auto repair shops and parts stores have, for a very long time, taken great care to protect the environment by recycling used engine oil," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. "It's part of their everyday business."

As estimated 1.3 billion gallons of motor vehicle engine oil is generated each year from oil changes performed primarily at repair shops or by do-it-yourselfers. Fortunately, the majority of used oil is collected and sold as combustible fuel, mainly used for energy for power plants and heating. About 16 percent of used engine oil is re-refined into new oil.

Oil that is dumped on the ground or into the sewer system, rather than properly collected and recycled, can contaminate drinking water, and 40 percent of the oil pollution in our nation's harbors and waterways is a result of improper collection, disposal and recycling of motor oil.

In addition to recycling used engine oil, auto repair shops recycle tires, used oil filters, batteries, parts cleaning solvents, scrap metal, plastics, cardboard and paper, dunnage and wood pallets.

The study is part of AAIA's initiative to illustrate the automotive aftermarket industry's widespread efforts on behalf of the environment. The information is presented in AAIA's "Driving Toward a Cleaner Environment: The Automotive Aftermarket's Green Story," and in the short videos, AAIA Green and AAIA Green: Oil Recycling.