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Used Motor Oil Recycling – Overview

Used motor oil can contain hazardous substances such as heavy metals that pose potential risk to human health and the environment. If improperly disposed of – dumped on the ground or down a storm drain – used motor oil can contaminate South Carolina’s lakes, rivers and ground water. If recycled, used motor oil is a valuable resource that can be refined into new products or used in power plants to generate electricity.

The S.C. Solid Waste Policy and Management Act of 1991 (Act) banned the disposal of motor oil in municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills after May 27, 1992. The Act prohibits the disposal of oil into sewers, drainage systems, septic tanks, surface water or groundwater and on the ground. The Act also prohibits the use of oil for road oiling, dust control, weed abatement and other uses that have the potential to harm the environment.

If you have your oil changed for you (at a car dealership, garage or quick lube), your used motor oil is recycled by that business. If you change your own oil, you are required to recycle it.

Through local governments, South Carolina offers a comprehensive recycling program for do-it-yourself (DIY) oil changers providing more than 900 collection centers across the state. To find a collection site near you, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.

The program also targets oil filters and bottles, farm oil, gasoline and oil/gasoline mixtures generated by residents (not businesses) with collection sites throughout South Carolina. To learn more, see the menu on the right.

Some counties may accept additional petroleum products. Residents must check with their county recycling coordinator for information.

NOTE: There is a two cents per quart advance recycling fee on oil. The fee – which is part of South Carolina’s solid waste legislation – provides grant funding to local governments for the recycling of used motor oil, oil filters and oil bottles as well as the state’s solid waste management program. South Carolina has no other fee associated with the sale of oil. Retailers may charge additional fees as a matter of company policy.