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More and more used oil enters our water systems each year. This oil leaks from cars onto roads, and from roads into drains that lead to our oceans, where it effects our ecosystem. The bad news is its getting worse. The good news is it's entirely fixable. Join the movement to prevent petroleum pollution in our water, land and air by joining our mailing list today.

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The Facts

Petroleum-based motor oils and industrial lubricants are contaminating our water supply and causing irreversible damage to our environment, and to us. Get the facts about what petroleum-based motor oils are doing to us, and the environment.

Silent Oil Spills

Every year 10 BILLION GALLONS of liquid petroleum hydrocarbon, in the form of motor oil and other industrial lubricants are released into the environment due to human activity:

  • 4.37 billion gal. of motor oil and other lubricants are lost in use
  • 1.85 billion gal. of used motor oil and lubricants are illegally dumped
  • 3.91 billion gal. of used motor oil and lubricants are burned as fuel

Now consider this, all oil spills over 10,000 tonnes; from 1901, from tanker accidents and drilling operations to storms and war total less than 2.7 billion gallons worldwide.

Motor oils and lubricants made from non-toxic, environmentally friendly plant-based oils can protect us, and our environment.


Water is good stuff.

Nearly 40% of pollution in waterways is from used motor oil, making it one of the worst environmental pollutants. It leaks from cars onto roadways where stormwater washes it into lakes, rivers and oceans.

Over 60% of all oil-related pollution in the U.S. is caused by improper disposal of used motor oil, making it the single largest source of oil pollution in our nation’s waterways.

The U.S. EPA reports that over 200 million gallons of motor oil are tossed in the trash, spilled on the ground or poured down drains and sewers annually. This oil eventually ends up in our waterways as rainwater, or melting snow carries it to the nearest body of water.


Drains to Ocean

The greatest source of petroleum pollution in the ocean is transported there through rivers and streams, largely from the improper disposal of used motor oils down drains and from urban street runoff.

  • 500 million gallons of used petroleum lubricating oil reaches the world’s oceans each year through routine ship maintenance and improper disposal of used oils.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that sewage treatment plants discharge twice as much oil into coastal waters as do tanker accidents.


Everything that goes down your household drain flows first to a sewage treatment plant, then into the ocean. Sewage treatment plants are equipped to deal with human waste. They are not effective at removing chemicals. In fact, oil actually kills the good bacteria treatment plants use to purify sewage.

If You Care, Protect The Air

Public health can be seriously threatened if oil is disposed of improperly or if it enters the water or air.

Lubricants create greenhouse gas (GHG) pollutants at roughly the same rate as transportation fuels. Approximately 38% of lubricants are “consumed in use,” meaning they seep into the engine’s combustion chamber and are burned, or leak out onto roadways, causing stormwater pollution of land and waterways for years, before eventually biodegrading into GHGs.

Of the portion of used oil actually collected, roughly 80% is burned as industrial fuel, creating GHGs the same as other petroleum fuels. Used petroleum lubricants burned as fuel release over 36 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents each year.

As another example, in California alone, the potential zinc, cadmium, copper and lead emissions from used oil-derived fuels from California are on the order of emissions from all of California’s major stationary sources combined. Extending oil change intervals from 4,500 to 9,000 miles would halve the total emissions.


Don't Spoil the Soil

Oil improperly disposed of in landfills, waterways, or dumped on the ground or into storm sewers can seep into our soil and groundwater, contaminating our soil, water supply and poisoning our plants.

One gallon of used petroleum-based oil can render 4 acres of land unsuitable for planting for decades. Oil that has migrated through soil or has reached ground water can take over 100 years to decompose.


About 37.5 million gallons of petroleum oil is dumped into U.S. landfills each year from the more than 3 billion “used” motor oil bottles trashed with oil residue still inside.

Landfills receive nearly 1 billion used oil filters annually in the U.S. amassing 85 million gallons of used oil across the nation’s landfills, where it eventually leaches through liners into the groundwater supply.

Harm caused by the unnecessary use of petroleum products can be severe, widespread and long lasting. It can also be extremely expensive to mitigate and complicated to prevent.

Time for an Oil Change

Unless you walk, swim or paddle everywhere you go, you use petroleum-based lubricants, and you are contributing to the problem.

The Fate of Used Oil

Biosynthetic Infographic


The EPA estimates that American households improperly dump about 193 million gallons of used oil every year, or roughly the equivalent of 17 Exxon Valdez oil spills.
Preventing used oil from entering our waterways is very simple! Here you will find a few tips on what you can do in your every day life.

Learn More

  1. Be aware – by simply knowing that this is happening and spreading awareness around the issue, you are helping educate others and encouraging them to take steps against oil leaking into our water.
  2. Proper disposal – Never dispose of oil or other engine fluids down the storm drain, on the ground, or into a ditch.
  3. Recycle – Did you know motor oil change be recycled? Look for the oil drop on packaging that signifies the oil is collected for recycling and reuse. Recycle your used motor oil at a service station or automotive center in your area.
  4. Time for an oil change? – Ask your oil change mechanic for environmentally friendly, bio-based or fully synthetic motor oil instead of conventional petroleum motor oils.
  5. Proper Vehicle Maintenance – Know what kind of oil your car requires (older vehicles may need long life engine oil) and fix oil leaks as soon as you spot them. Maintaining your vehicle inside and out, including proper tire pressure, helps prevent your car from burning through motor oil too quickly.

Know the law

Motor oil is considered hazardous waste.
Visit the EPA State Programs Website to find out more about what the laws and regulations where you live.

Join Us to Stop #SilentOilSpills


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