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Used Oil Filters

By now you are aware that used oil filters are a recyclable waste made up of valuable resources. But, armed with this information, what are you doing about it? While used oil filter recycling rates have continued to climb over the past five years, the trend is starting to slow. If the filter recycling numbers remain stagnant for long, state legislators will be forced to step in and more strictly regulate the disposal of used oil filters, resulting in higher costs for generators.

In an effort to alleviate the need for such regulatory burdens and keep recycling costs low, the Filter Manufacturers Council has been actively promoting the recyclability of their products for the past nine years. "The Council has helped lead the filter recycling industry out of anonymity, surpassing 120 million recycled oil filters in 1998," commented Brent Hazelett, executive director of the Filter Manufacturers Council and director of Environmental Affairs for the MEMA Environmental Institute.

"While a 30% recycling rate seems impressive, particularly when compared to where the industry was ten years ago, there is still a great deal of individuals and companies that need to be educated."

A typical large quantity generator of used oil filters can easily begin a recycling program in their facility. The Filter Manufacturers Council maintains a database of filter management companies in every state, which is accessible online at or by calling the hotline at 800-99-FILTER. This information will allow the generator to locate a company that can transport the filters for recycling.

The benefits of recycling compared to landfill disposal are numerous. The greatest benefit may be a competitive advantage over other businesses. In the current age of environmental awareness, often the most environmentally friendly business gains the customers. Advertising yourself as an oil filter recycler, or even better, an oil filter drop off location for do-it-yourselfers (a large potential customer base) will gain market share.

For the typical do-it-yourselfer (DIY), finding a drop off location for used oil filters may be more difficult. Many states simply do not yet have the infrastructure available to handle the DIY used oil filters. However, DIYers can call around to locate a private business or municipal location that will accept used oil filters from DIYers. If no such facilities are available and disposal is the only option, be sure to follow the federal guidelines for filter disposal (refer to your state guidelines for states that are more stringent).

The minimum federal guidelines require the generator to hot drain the filter for 12 hours at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or above and puncture the dome end or anti drain back valve. This essentially means you have to poke a hole in the filter and drain it for 12 hours to remove most of the used oil before throwing it away.

If you would like to learn more about the environmental benefits of used filter recycling or how to recycle your filters, please visit the website at

Established in 1971, the Filter Manufacturers Council represents 25 manufacturers of vehicular and industrial filtration products in North America. The organization has undertaken several environmental initiatives over the past decade and continues to encourage the recycling of used oil filters. The Council is administered by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association.