DSHW Home > Used Oil Section > FAQs
Used Oil Section: Frequently Asked Questions
What is meant by a DIYer?
A DIYer is a "do-it-yourself" oil changer --any person who changes the oil in their own vehicles or other engines.
Why is a special program to collect this oil necessary?
The U.S. EPA estimates that 50% of Americans change their own oil and only 35% of that oil is getting into the recycling stream. This means that some 200 million gallons of this oil is being disposed of improperly in the U.S. every year - an estimated two million gallons in Utah alone.
This causes two problems. First, disposed of in sewers, storm drains, landfills or just dumped on the ground, there is great damage to the environment and it is very expensive to clean up. Second, it is a huge waste of a non-renewable resource. Used oil has many valuable uses.
What is Utah doing about this problem?
Since 1993 it has been unlawful to dispose of oil in landfills, sewers, storm drains or on the ground, even as weed or dust depressant.
To fund a program to take care of this oil, the Utah Legislature imposed a user fee on lubricating oil of four cents a quart that is collected by oil retailers and deposited in a fund for establishing collection centers, educating the public and other facets of this program.
What is required to become a DIYer used oil collection center?
The prospective center must complete an "Application for Registration of Used Oil Collection Center" form, give evidence of a valid business license, provide an emergency spill containment plan, have a secure location for a storage tank, and comply with the regulations covering such an establishment.
What help does the state provide for collection centers?
The Used Oil Program provides all of the materials needed to establish and operate the center. This includes as needed, storage tanks, tank containment areas, appropriate signs, contamination testing kits, management and employee education, assistance in arranging for free pickup of the oil, compensation for oil collected and periodic inspections.
What can be accepted by way of oils?
The general answer is used motor oil, hydraulic oils and transmission fluids. These oils should not be contaminated.
What happens if liquids that are contaminated are brought to a DIYer center?
If the oil contains a little antifreeze, it can be accepted and placed in the holding tank. If it is largely antifreeze, it should be taken back home by the DIYer. The DIYer should contact the local health department to find out how he/she should properly dispose of antifreeze.
If oil that is brought to the collection center appears to be contaminated with gasoline or solvents or other unknown products, the collection center operator can test it for unacceptable contamination using test kits provided by the state Used Oil Program.
If unacceptable oil is identified, the collection center should set it aside, not mixing it in the holding tank, and alert the local health department which will assist in either neutralizing it or otherwise getting rid of it safely.
Are there limits to how much oil a DIYer center can accept?
Yes! A person who changes the oil in his or her own vehicles at home may bring up to five gallons of oil to the facility at any one time. A small agricultural operator, one which generates no more than an average of 25 gallons of used oil a month, may bring up to 55 gallons of used oil to the center at one time. Since a 55-gallon drum is often difficult to handle, farmers are encouraged to bring their oil in smaller lots for convenient handling. However, some collection centers have pumps which can be used to transfer this oil to the center's storage tank.
Larger farming operations and other commercial operations which generate used oil have other means of disposing of their oil.
What is the procedure for accepting used oil?
When oil is taken to a collection center, it should be received by an employee and if it looks and smells like used oil that has not been contaminated, it can be poured, by the employee, into the holding tank. Used oil can only be left during working hours that are specified by the individual collection center.
Each person who brings in used oil is required to sign the Utah DIYer Log Sheet with his/her name, address, the date and the amount deposited. This log sheet is the basis for compensating DIYer centers for the oil they collect.
How are DIYer centers compensated for their efforts?
From the funds raised through a user fee of 4 cents a quart, the DIYer center operator is paid 4 cents a quart (16 cents a gallon) based on the amounts collected in that center. In addition, many collection centers like the good will this public service provides and the extra traffic that is built in their operation as a result of the program.
How successful is the program?
There are now more than 260 DIYer collection centers with representation in every part of the state. As the educational programs are implemented, the amount of oil collected increases dramatically -- expanding in some areas as much as five times in a single year. In the recent year for which we have completed records, there was about 400,000 gallons of this oil collected through these DIYer collection centers.
Where can I get more information?
If you wish to know the location of the collection center nearest you, call 1-800-458-0145
For answers to other questions, contact:
Utah Used Oil Program
P.O. Box 144880
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4880
For more information about the Used Oil Program, please contact Deborah Ng (801-536-0218).