Oil filters 

Oil filters contain about a pound of very recyclable steel

EDITOR'S NOTE: All of Ask Renee's columns are moving to NUVO! Here's one from May of 2015.

Find more Ask Renee columns here: nuvo.net/askrenee

click to enlarge engine_oil_filter_cutaway.jpg

Greetings, Renee,

As a longtime grease monkey, I still change the oil of my cars in my garage. I’m very deliberate in capturing the used motor oil and getting it either to Indy’s tox drop sites or to auto parts stores who recycle it. I wonder if there are recycling options for the used oil filters that are made mostly of steel and are packed with paper or other media that absorb the dirt and metal particles from the oil. Any suggestions?



Howdy, Dick!

You are correct, oil filters contain about a pound of very recyclable steel. The Steel Recycling Institute says that recycling all the oil filters sold in a year would yield about 160,000 tons of steel — enough to build 16 new baseball stadiums. But all that oil throws a wrench in recycling it, so you can’t really take it to a recycling center that handles steel.

O’Reilly Auto Parts not only recycles used motor oil, they now recycled used oil filters too. I called a local just to make sure that they accept them and they said yes!

SRI also offers directions on how to properly drain your filter to before it’s recycled.

You can take your oil filter to a City of Indianapolis ToxDrop, but I wasn’t able to get an answer as to whether the steel is recycled or disposed of with the oil.

Piece out,


(NOTE: This letter appeared in the May 20, 2015 edition of NUVO.)


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Renee Sweany

Renee Sweany

Renee has spent the past several years surrounding herself with like-minded people who share her passion for caring for the planet. She began writing “Ask Renee” after four years of offering green tips through her e-newsletter Green Piece Indy. E-mail her your green living queries at rsweany@sbcglobal.net.
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