Arcata Offers Some Zero Waste Oil Change Tips

This is a press release from the City of Arcata:

Myke Waddy [Public domain]

The City of Arcata is encouraging community members who own or operate vehicles to change motor oil with zero waste principles in mind.

Motor oil, by volume, is one of California’s largest hazardous waste streams, with approximately 115 million gallons of motor oil being sold each year. Used motor oil is considered extremely hazardous waste as it is insoluble and contains heavy metals and toxic chemicals.

It is estimated that 30 percent of used motor oil in California goes uncollected each year, which causes serious environmental problems by making its way into creeks, streams and oceans via storm drains. In addition, one gallon of used motor oil can foul the taste of 1 million gallons of drinking water.

In order to prevent pollution in Humboldt Bay and in local creeks and streams, the Environmental Services Department has some tips regarding the proper disposal of used motor oil.

1. Beware of the 3,000-mile myth. Most vehicles do not need an oil change every 3,000 miles. Automakers nowadays are regularly recommending oil changes at 5,000, 7,500 or even 10,00 miles based on driving conditions. Unnecessary oil changes generate millions of gallons of waste oil each year, so remember to check the recommended oil change interval in the vehicle’s owner’s manual for proper guidelines. If the owner’s manual is unavailable, visit to check manufacturer-recommended oil change intervals for most vehicles.

2. Changing motor oil and vehicle fluids can be easily done at home without compromising the environment. Remember to drain auto fluid into a drain pan and use a funnel when pouring fluids. Place absorbent material, such as an old towel or absorbent pad, under the drain pan to catch any drips, and do not pour used motor oil in the street or in the trash. Please recycle used motor oil and used oil filters. With proof of residency, like a recent water bill or rental agreement, Arcata residents can pick up a free motor oil recycling container at the Environmental Services Office, located at 736 F Street.

3. Dispose of waste oil at a Certified Collection Center (CCC). Certified Collection Centers have storage tanks on site to collect and safely dispose of used oil and oil filters, and will pay 40 cents per gallon of oil collected. Please note that a CCC will not accept used motor oil that has been contaminated with other fluids such as antifreeze, solvents, gasoline or water, so please do not mix used oil with other vehicle fluids. Franklin’s Service, located at 1903 Heindon Road, is Arcata’s only CCC, and they can be reached at (707) 822-1975. For a list of Certified Collection Centers in greater Humboldt County, please visit

For more helpful zero waste tips, visit or call the Environmental Services Department at 707-822-8184.



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