OBJECTIVES: The student will gain an awareness that used motor oil is a resource to be recycled rather than discarded. The student will be able to identify locations where used motor oil may be recycled.

RESOURCES: Community map or road map, chalkboard, telephone.

INTRODUCTION: Over 35 million gallons of used motor oil are generated each year in Pennsylvania. Individuals performing oil changes at home generate nearly 65% of the total, or 23 million gallons. Used motor oil can be refined and reused.

If recycled, the oil could save about a half million barrels of crude oil each year, worth nearly $10 million dollars. Unfortunately, used motor oil is sometimes burned and is often dumped onto the ground, into drains and sewers, into streams, and into landfills. Used motor oil can contain concentrations of toxic heavy metals. Improperly disposed, used motor oil affects the environment, including wildlife, vegetation, surface water and drinking water supplies.

Pennsylvania has initiated a used oil recycling program requiring certain automotive service centers to provide oil recycling service.


1. Survey class members to determine whether their family automobile oil is changed at home or at a service station. Record the results on the chalkboard. Compare the results with the reported average of the estimated 65% "do-it-yourselfers" who perform all changes.

2. Follow-up by asking students whether they know what becomes of the used oil that is replaced during the oil change. Do any families recycle used motor oil? Where is the oil recycled?

3. Call the Used Oil Recycling Hotline at 1800-346-4242 for a list of oil recycling outlets in the community, or contact local recycling centers, garages or automotive service centers to inquire whether used motor oil is accepted for recycling. Plot the used motor oil recycling centers on the community map. Identify each student's residence, compare the locations, and estimate the distances between.

4. Discuss with the class the economic and environmental implications of not recycling used motor oil (refer to the above introduction). Use the chalkboard to list benefits of recycling and environmental consequences of improper disposal.

5. Follow-up by asking the class why they feel that recycling used motor oil is good for the environment. Ask members of the class to identify the type of containers they might use to recycle used motor oil, and how they would transport it to the recycling center.

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