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How Many Oil Filters Do Americans Throw Away Every Year?

The zero waste movement is taking the world by storm. People everywhere are cutting down on straws and plastic bags. Everyone is waging a war against plastic, which is a smart way to help save the earth.

There’s something else that’s as harmful as plastic is to the environment: disposable oil filters.

Disposable oil filters create tons of waste every year. They can also contaminate fresh water supplies everywhere.

How Many Oil Filters Do Americans Throw Away Every Year?

In 2019, there were 284.5 million cars registered in the U.S. (source).

The average person drives about 13,500 miles a year. An oil filter gets changed about every 5,000 miles, so the average car uses up 2.7 oil filters a year. It may not seem like much for one car. But when you think about how many cars there are on the road, it adds up to hundreds of millions of filters used every year.

To be more specific:

  • In 2019, people changed about 768 million oil filters.
  • If each filter weighs one pound, that’s 384,000 tons of used filters.

The number keeps growing every year. On average, American roads see 6 million more cars every year. That’s an extra 16.2 million oil filters being tossed out each year.

It’s quite wasteful when you think about all the materials you’d find in an oil filter:

  • Microscopic cellulose fibers
  • Synthetic fibers (like glass or polyester)
  • Aluminum
  • Plastic
  • Steel

How Much Used Motor Oil Is Discarded Every Year?

An oil filter contains about 0.2 quart to 1 quart of oil. You can look up your oil filter here to see exactly how much oil it can hold. Most people empty their oil filters and dispose of the oil properly before throwing them out. Others don’t.

Even if you empty your oil filter and dispose of the oil the way you’re supposed to, an ounce or so of the  dirty oil will remain in the filter. That may not seem like much, but it’s really detrimental to the environment when you consider the huge number of filters used every year. 

The Seriousness Of Oil Contamination From Oil Filters

Even though it’s illegal to send used oil filters to the landfill, plenty of people still do it. Used motor oil is one of the worst things you could toss out with your garbage. It’s because used motor oil:

  • Is insoluble
  • Can contain toxic chemicals
  • May contain heavy metals
  • Doesn’t degrade fast
  • Sticks to everything

Used motor oil will leak out of the filter and it may seep into the local water supply. In fact, just 5 quarts  of used motor oil from one oil change can contaminate 1,000,000 gallons of fresh water, according to the EPA. That’s a year’s worth of water supply for 50 people (source).

We can’t tell how many people fail to dispose of their used oil properly. So it’s hard to pinpoint an estimate of how much oil can ruin fresh water each year. But we can come up with some numbers for one person who has a habit of dumping their used oil filters in the trash:

The average person uses 2.7 oil filters a year. Disposable filters don’t drain completely. If each filter has an ounce of oil in it when it goes to the dump, that person could contaminate more than 16,000 gallons of water. When you consider that hundreds of millions of oil filters end up in the landfill every year, an enormous amount of water could be polluted.

Some shops use an oil filter crusher to squeeze out as much oil as possible before sending the filter to the landfill. If you use disposable oil filters, that’s the best way to combat oil contamination. However, using a reusable oil filter is a much better solution.

Combat The Issue With Reusable Oil Filters

On average, people keep their cars for 11 years. That means you’ll use up about 30 oil filters over the course of time for your car.

According to projections, there will be around 287.3 million cars cruising the roads in the US by the end of 2020. If you do the math, about 775.7 million oil filters in that year alone will be discarded. When you break it down, that’s about:

  • 64.6 million oil filters every month
  • At least 2 million oil filters every day
  • If one ounce of oil from every oil change ends up in the ground, over 4 trillion gallons of water will be contaminated

If you have a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, using oil filters is inevitable. However, the oil filters you use don’t have to be disposable. Reusable oil filters exist, and they help solve the following problems:

  • Waste
  • Water supply contamination

What Is A Reusable Oil Filter?

A reusable oil filter is a metal filter that you clean out once in a while. Depending on the brand, a reusable oil filter may come with a wire cloth (in lieu of the paper filter found in disposable filters). A good one will last the lifetime of the vehicle.

A reusable oil filter not only eliminates waste, but it also makes recycling oil so much easier. With a reusable oil filter, you’ll get to recycle 100% of the used motor oil instead leaving some in the old filter.

PurePower! Oil Filters Is A Brand Of Choice For Many

PurePower! is a leading brand for reusable oil filters. All PurePower! lifetime oil filters come with:

  • Double-woven 304 stainless steel filter media
  • Neodymium rare earth magnets that trap any metal particles in the oil (such metal particles usually get past paper oil filters)
  • Stainless steel bypass valves and springs
  • CNC machined 6061T-6 aluminum canisters
  • Viton® O-rings

You can see the specs of a PurePower! lifetime oil filter here. Check out all the oil filters PurePower! has to offer here. Please get in touch with us if you need help finding the right oil filter for your car.