Opening A Garage? Everything You Need To Know About Used Oil Disposal

Are you about to open a small-scale auto repair shop? If so, you'll likely perform a lot of oil changes and have a lot of used oil that you'll need to find a way to properly dispose of. Used oil can contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals that could negatively impact the environment, so although there are only three states that technically classify it as hazardous waste, it's best if you treat it as such when disposing of it.

Every Drop Should Be Accounted For

All mechanics know that used oil should be stored in a sealed container, but many don't understand just how detrimental not heeding this advice can be. A single gallon of used oil can contaminate one million gallons of water, killing aquatic creatures and introducing dangerous chemicals into drinking water. Every drop adds up, so it's crucial that you're diligent in accounting for and properly disposing of every bit of oil that comes through your shop.

From Oil Pan To Sealed Jug

As you drain the oil from the vehicles you service, filter it into an oil drain pan. Keep a close eye on the pan, and when its oil level gets close to the top, transfer its contents to a tightly sealed plastic jug. Gallon milk jugs and old oil containers will work for used oil storage, but never use any container with a flip-off lid; sloshing oil could pop these lids off if the jugs are accidentally tipped.

Drain Those Filters

Before you dispose of used oil filters, you have to get all of the oil caught inside of them out. To do so, use a screwdriver or ice pick to carefully gouge a hole in the dome of each filter. If the filter has an anti-drain back valve, puncture a hole in this location too. The filter should be propped up above a plastic container and allowed to drain for at least 12 hours following being punctured. Once oil has stopped dripping from the filter, you may dump the drained oil in with the rest of your waste oil and dispose of the filter in your ordinary non-hazardous waste garbage.

Storing The Sealed Jugs

What do you do with the jugs of used oil that start to accumulate around your shop? You likely won't have time to run to the recycling center every few oil changes you do, so you'll need a space to store your jugs of used oil. The best solution for this is a roll-off dumpster. Roll-off dumpsters are considered closed containers by the Environmental Protection Agency when they're kept inside and have a tightly-fitting lid or when they're kept outside and protected from the elements with a well-fitted tarp. Instruct all of your employees to double-check that your roll-off is covered after placing jugs of used oil in it.

When selecting a dumpster rental agency to service your garage, make sure to specify that you'll be using the dumpster to contain used oil. They'll make sure you get a leak-proof container, and they'll inspect it regularly for any signs of wear or damage that might lead to a leak. Any dumpster rental service that offers hazardous waste containers will also pick up the container on a regular basis and transport it to a recycling center where your used oil will be refined for reuse. 

If you're about to open a garage, you've got to have a plan in place for dealing with used oil. Used oil is dangerous to the environment, even in small amounts. When performing oil changes at your new business, account for every single drop (including the bit left hiding within the filter), and hire a reputable dumpster service that will provide you with the right containment container and transport your used oil to a facility that will properly recycle it. To hire a dumpster rental service, check out a site like