Household Guide to Automotive and Small Engine Product Disposal

Many homes, garages and out-buildings are used to store hazardous products that maintain gasoline-powered equipment and vehicles. Proper use and storage of fuels, lubricants, antifreeze and related materials presents few problems, but their improper disposal can seriously endanger human health and the environment.

Each year in Illinois, do-it-yourselfers drain millions of gallons of motor oil from crankcases of cars, trucks, lawnmowers, snowblowers, 4-wheelers and other machines. Much of it they dump down drains or into trash cans. This fugitive oil can overwhelm the safeguards built into sewage systems and sanitary landfills, contaminating surface and underground water supplies we depend on for consumption and recreation.

These environmental threats prompted the Illinois General Assembly to ban used oil from landfills. This law (Sec. 21.6, Illinois Environmental Protection Act, effective July 1, 1996) forbids anyone to place liquid used oil in municipal trash collections. Excluded from the ban are used oil filters, empty containers that previously held oil, and rags and absorbents used to clean up oil spills.

Fortunately, used motor oil and other automotive products are easy to recycle or dispose of safely. Here’s how:

Used Motor Oil

Many automobile dealers, service stations and quick-lube businesses accept used motor oil from do-it-yourselfers. Some firms may charge a fee to help off-set their costs of recycling or disposal.

For a list of oil recyclers in this area that will take your used motor oil . . .Click here for a listing of drop-off sites


Some municipal sewage systems may allow residents to pour diluted antifreeze down the drain. Ask your waste water treatment facility if it can process antifreeze, and in what quantities. Obey their instructions. Unless told otherwise, dilute the antifreeze with equal amounts of water before flushing the mixture down the drain.

This procedure should not be used with septic systems.

Many service stations and auto dealers have equipment for recycling antifreeze, or contract for the regular collection of it by a company that will recycle or safely dispose of it.

If these options are not possible, safely store waste antifreeze until you can take it to an Illinois EPA or county sponsored household hazardous-waste collection.


A little planning can prevent lengthy storage of gasoline, thereby reducing opportunities for it to go stale or become contaminated. Buy gasoline in quantities you know you will use in a single season or less. Before storing your lawnmower, tiller, snowblower or other equipment, run the engine until all fuel is exhausted. Or add gasoline stabilizer to the tank.

Stale gasoline can be rejuvenated by adding fresh fuel to old. Most engines will burn new/old blends safely. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations or prohibitions.

Lead Acid BatteriesLead Acid Battery

Over time the lead-acid batteries in cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles deteriorate and must be replaced. By law, firms that sell new lead-acid batteries must accept spent batteries for proper recycling or disposal. This law (Sec. 22.23, Illinois Environ-mental Protection Act, effective Sept. 1, 1990) also bans lead-acid batteries from municipal-waste landfills and incinerators. Most businesses that sell lead-acid batteries will also accept spent ones, even if you didn’t purchase one there.

Protective Finishes

Before discarding liquid or paste car waxes, allow these products to solidify by placing opened containers in a well-ventilated area away from pets, children and potential heat sources. The dried material can be set out with your regular garbage.

Other Automotive Products

Transmission, hydraulic and brake fluids; and body fillers, putties and epoxy resins; should not be discarded with general refuse. Ask friends, neighbors or relatives if they can use these products. If not, store them safely until you can take them to a house hazardous-waste collection.


Illinois citizens produce over 12 million used tires annually. That’s one used tire per person every year! The discarded tires serve as habitats for disease-carrying vectors, particularly mosquitoes.

The illegal transportation and disposal of tires in Illinois is responsible for the proliferation of a harmful species of mosquito-the Asian Tiger Mosquito. Whole tires have been banned from landfills, so alternative methods of disposal are necessary. Tire fires can contaminate the air, land, and water.

But. . .

The Illinois EPA has clean-up programs, like the Consensual tire Removal program and the County-Wide Used/Waste Tire Collection program, to help clean-up used/waste tires in Illinois.

Used/Waste-tire material can be used in such ways as road base, running tracks, playgrounds, horse arenas and tire-derived fuel (TDF) that is blended with coal to produce electricity.

The Used Tire Management Act

The Used Tire Management Act was adopted by the legislature in 1992 and it created the Used Tire Management Fund. This fund is supported by a $1.00 per tire user fee charged to customers on the price of new and used tires sold at retail in Illinois. It gives state governmental agencies the financial assistance they need for tire-pile cleanups, inspection and enforcement activities, market development for tire-based products, and mosquito research and control.

The IEPA Used Tire Program

The IEPA Used Tire Program was established in 1989. Since then, the Illinois EPA has cleaned up over 10 million used/waste tires that were improperly discarded in Illinois. Each year, the Illinois EPA conducts over 100 used/waste tire clean-ups throughout the state.

What the EPA Does:

Regulates and monitors those involved with used and waste tires – generators, transporters, processors, and end users–and enforces statutes and regulations.

Conducts inspections at used tire generators, storage and processing facilities , as well as disposal sites.

Performs a one-time Consensual Removal of up to 1000 used/waste tires at no cost to the owner of the property. If more than 1000 tires are present, the IEPA will remove the last 1000 tires after the property owner removes those tires in excess of 1000.

Co-sponsors county-wide used/waste tire collections throughout the state. Up to 30 of these collections are conducted annually with the Agency providing all the necessary funding for the collection and transportation of the used/waste tires to a processing facility. The other co-sponsors, usually units of local government, or county farm bureaus, provide the necessary advertising and facility for the collections.

The Future – Where We’re Headed…

As the number of waste tire dumps decreases in Illinois, the IEPA anticipates moving toward conducting a more regulatory-oriented program. Goals for the future include continuing our aggressive cleanup program at waste tire dump sites (including junk/salvage yards), ensuring that the $1.00 per tire fee is collected from retail customers and is submitted by tire retailers to the state, and ensuring used tire processors are operating in compliance with applicable requirements, and using tires in engineered applications.

What You Can Do…

Leave your used tires with your tire retailer when you buy new tires. Retailers are required by law to accept a quantity of used tires equal to the number of new tires purchased.

If a tire retailer refuses to accept your used tires, report them to the IEPA and find another retailer.

Buy durable tires and take proper care of them.

Participate in an IEPA-sponsored county-wide tire collection event in your area.

Notify your local law enforcement agency and the IEPA with any information on illegal dumping, hauling or burning of tires.

For more information call or write to:

Illinois EPA
Bureau of Land
Used Tire Unit

1021 N. Grand Ave. E.
P. O. Box 19276
Springfield, IL 62794-9276
(217) 785-8604


Ogle County Solid
Waste Management Dept.

Stephen J. Rypkema, Director
909 W. Pines Road
Oregon, IL 61061
(815) 732-4020 (Phone)
(815) 732-3709 (FAX)

Household Hazardous Waste Collections

The Illinois EPA conducts a dozen or more household-hazardous-waste collections each spring and fall. Ogle and Lee Counties have also sponsored collections. The collections are free, and are held on Saturdays for greatest convenience. All wastes are handled, transported and disposed of properly by a licensed contractor.

The City of Rockford and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency co-sponsor a permanent site for the collection and proper disposal of household hazardous wastes. It is available to any resident of Illinois. The site is located at:

Rock River Water Reclamation District
3333 Kishwaukee Street
Rockford, IL

Hours: Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sunday, noon – 4:00 p.m.


For more information concerning the Rock River Water Reclamation District Collection Site contact:


Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Land
Solid Waste Management Section
P. O. Box 19276
Springfield, IL 62794-9276
(217) 785-8604



For more information regarding automotive and small engine product disposal, please contact the Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department, 909 W. Pines Rd., Oregon, Illinois, (815) 732-4020.