Collection Opportunities

Adequate collection opportunities are the backbone of a successful used oil collection program. Do-it-yourselfers (DIY) must have ample and convenient collection opportunities for recycling their used oil and filters.

To determine if your collection opportunities are adequate you must analyze where and how the oil is being collected. This analysis can then be used to help plan and improve your program.

Generally, collection opportunities are broken down into two types–certified and noncertified. Most certified centers are auto parts stores or “quick lubes,” places where you would buy or change oil. Noncertified centers may include the following:

  • Household hazardous waste (HHW) facilities
  • ABOPs (antifreeze, batteries, oil, and paint facilities)
  • Agricultural
  • Temporary or mobile events
  • Curbside or door-to-door
  • Marina
  • Airport
  • Solid waste facility (load check)

The following questions will help you determine whether your local program is providing these opportunities.

  1. Where are the collection centers?
  2. How much oil are certified collection centers collecting?
  3. Are there enough conveniently located collection centers?
  4. Do the collection centers consistently accept used oil from the public?
  5. Is curbside collection coverage sufficient?
  6. Are Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility (HHWCF); or Antifreeze, Batteries, Oil and Paint (ABOP) available?
  7. What are my area’s targeted sector collection needs? [marina, agriculture, airport, conditionally exempt small quantity generators (CESQG)]
  8. Are we collecting enough DIYer oil and filters?

Where are the collection centers?

A database of current certified collection centers is maintained on the CalRecycle’s website.

Note that this listing will not show collection centers that have expired or withdrawn from the program. If you think a center is current but is not listed on the website, request a printout of all past and current centers by sending an e-mail to

The next step is to obtain a large map of your city (or cities, if a regional program), and mark where all the certified collection centers (CCC) are. Also add the locations of all antifreeze, batteries, oil, and paint (ABOP); household hazardous waste collection facilities (HHWCF), transfer stations that accept used oil, and any other informal, “noncertified” collection center that you know accepts oil from the public.

The Earth 911 website also maintains a wealth of information about household hazardous waste, and current locations of collection centers that accept household hazardous waste, including used oil and filters.

How much oil are certified collection centers collecting?

CalRecycle collects and maintains data only for certified collection centers. An online search tool is available to help you to easily summarize this data for certified collection centers and service bays.

Are there enough collection centers?

Determination of adequate collection centers available should be made by (1) geographic proximity to do-it-yourselfers (DIYers), and (2) quantity.

  1. Geographic Proximity to DIYers: Studies have indicated that a major barrier to DIYer recycling is the absence of a collection center within 3 miles of residence, so look at a detailed map of your jurisdiction, plot center locations, and determine if you have adequate collection centers (for more rural jurisdictions, the 3-mile barrier becomes less problematic, as people are more accustomed to driving further to transact normal business).
  2. Quantity: Although the minimum requirement is one certified collection center (CCC) for every 100,000 people, most grantees exceed these requirements, with a state average of one CCC for every 13,500 people.  The state average is a good first step, although an optimum number would be least one center for every 10,000 people.

The following table shows the CCC performance for grantees for fiscal year 2003-2004

CCC Performance
Number of CCCsPercent of
Excellent One CCC or more for every 10,000 people32%
GoodOne CCC for every 10,001 to 100,000 people67%
UnderperformingLess than minimum (1 per 100,000 people)< 1%

Current population statistics can be obtained from the California Department of Finance’s website. Follow links to “Demographic Information,” then “Reports,” and look for the “E-1 City / County Population Estimates” spreadsheet (updated each May).

To determine your ratio of people per center, divide population by number of certified collection centers. A city of 60,000 people with five collection centers would have one center for every 12,000 people (stated another way, it’s 60,000 people/5 centers = 12,000 people per center).Current population statistics can be obtained from the California Department of Finance’s website. Follow links to “Demographic Information,” then “Reports,” and look for the “E-1 City / County Population Estimates” spreadsheet (updated each May).

If there are any large numerical or geographic gaps in coverage, recruit more certified collection centers from the local businesses. Note that not all collection centers are equal. Auto parts stores that are collection centers, collect on average much more DIYer oil than collection centers that are auto repair shops or quick lubes. Car dealerships collect very little DIYer oil and should not be actively recruited.

See our Certified Center site for more information to share with prospective collection centers.

Do the collection centers consistently accept used oil from the public?

A collection center that does not accept a DIYer’s used oil could do enough harm to prevent that DIYer from ever recycling his oil again. The most frequent reason cited for turning away DIYers is because the oil collection tank is full. You can encourage the center to either increase the frequency of oil pickup from a hauler, or to purchase additional tanks to store the DIYer oil between pickups. Oil hauling costs and oil tank purchases are eligible expenses through your block grant funds.

The best way to help your collection centers and give them the support they deserve and need is to conduct regular site visits, about two per year to each center. (Note that the minimum required by statute, one center visit per 100,000 people, is too infrequent to be effective.)

Grantees that visit CCCs on a frequent basis report fewer problems with orphaned oil, increased oil and filter collection, and increased program satisfaction from the participating businesses.

A few points for collection centers to consider:

  • No “approved” container exists–any container in which the oil is carried in is acceptable (centers are not required to accept and keep the empty oil container).
  • Centers can accept up to 55 gallons of used oil (few will); but can set a lower limit, not to be less than 5 gallons.
  • Centers can accept oil from small businesses, provided they are Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQG) who generate less than 100 kg. (220 lb.) of hazardous waste per month, which is about 27 gallons of oil.

Filters: Although CCCs are not required to accept oil filters from the public, consider setting up a filter collection partnership between you and the center. Because the center is not reimbursed with a recycling incentive fee for filters (unlike oil), the filter hauling costs could be paid directly out of your block grant.

Is curbside collection coverage sufficient?

Curbside collection of used oil is the most convenient collection method available. Many grantees collect a significant portion of the DIYer oil and filters in their community through curbside collection. If cost-effective, consider making curbside collection available to all areas of your jurisdiction. A distinct advantage of curbside collection is the acceptance of filters, which currently, most CCCs do not accept.

Are HHW collection facilities and ABOPs available?

A positive correlation exists between increased oil collection and the presence of HHW collection facilities and antifreeze, batteries, oil, and paint (ABOP) facilities. As with curbside collection, filter collection is more likely at a permanent collection facility than a private-business collection center.

What are my area’s targeted sector collection needs?

Any activity that generates used oil may require an organized recycling effort consisting of establishing collection locations and performing outreach. In addition to at-home-mechanics, targeted sectors may include marinas, airports, agricultural areas, and small businesses such as the conditionally exempt small quantity generators (CESQG). To find general automotive repair shops that generate used oil, work with your local CUPA, and follow the directions that show how to run DTSC’s hazardous waste generator web report.

More information on targeted sector programs

Are we collecting enough DIYer oil and filters?

CalRecycle staff has developed a used oil diversion rate formula that can be applied to any jurisdiction. DIYer used oil generation, collection, and diversion rates should be available later this year. To estimate used oil diversion, the amount of DIY oil collectedPDF download is compared to the amount generated. Amount collected is reported annually on Used Oil Block Grant Reports. The amount generated for each jurisdiction is based upon several factors, including the population, number of people per household, percentage of households with one or more DIYer, the average number of vehicles per household, average mileage interval between oil changes, etc.).

Pending completion of jurisdiction-specific diversion rates, use the following state averages as local government program goals:

  • 0.22 gallons DIYer oil per person, which is equivalent to 3.36 gallons per DIY household
  • 0.032 DIYer filters per person, which is equivalent to 0.46 filters per DIY household.

If local DIYer rates are less than the state average of 17.6 percent of all households (19.4 percent of all households with vehicles), your collection averages would tend to be lower than state averages as well. However, any local averages less than 50 percent of state averages may indicate that local oil collection is underperforming.

Additionally, a good goal for a local government program would be to increase absolute oil collection 5 percent per year (for example, from 10,000 DIY gallons to 10,500 gallons).

Filters. CalRecycle does not collect any information on filter recycling at this time, except what is provided in the annual Block Grant Reports by grantees. Because no recycling incentive funds are paid for used oil filters, collection centers do not file claims for filters as they do for used oil. Again, when determining the number of DIYer oil filters collected by centers or programs, remember that just the DIYer oil filters should be included in the annual report.

Regional Averages for Oil and Filter Collection
The following regional averages for oil and oil filter collection were derived from data submitted in the Used Oil Block Grant Annual Reports.

Refer to the regional map to determine the region your county is in.

RegionDIY Households
in Region (%)
DIY oil gallon
per DIY Household
DIY filters
per DIY Household
Bay Area16.90%3.580.62
Central Coast20.20%4.861.33
Central Valley North21.30%3.140.98
Central Valley South26.40%3.050.29
Coastal North36.90%2.750.96
Mountain North26.30%5.12.4
Mountain South27.00%4.791.38
Southern California Coastal17.70%30.19
Southern California Inland19.80%4.150.38
State Average19.40%3.360.46

Next Section: Public Awareness

For more information contact: Certified Collection Center, or Household Hazardous Waste,