Finish the Job Right: Oil & Filter Recycling in San Mateo County

You’ve finished the dirty work and now your bike has fresh oil and a shiny new filter, but what do you do with your used oil and filter?

Yamaha V-Star 650 Cruiser, ready for her oil change, tools and supplies at hand.

Our team has shown the step-by-step of oil and filter changes on several popular blog posts over the years – a Yamaha V-Star 650 Cruiser, a Dry-Sump Suzuki DR350 Enduro, a BMW R1150RT, a Honda Shadow 600 (VLX 600), and even a Honda Elite 80. Just like the oil and filter change, exactly how and where to recycle the used oil and filter depends on where you live. For this post, we’re focusing on San Mateo County, but the options are similar no matter where you live in California (find details for your city or county here).

Used oil filter drains overnight – pick up a free drainer container at a Riders Recycle event near you.

Get in gear.
The first step is prep. Fully drain the oil AND filter – ideally overnight to catch all the oil. If you’ve been stockpiling oil filters, be sure they’re fully drained. Residents can pick up free oil and filter drainer containers like the one in the picture above at upcoming Riders Recycle events in San Mateo County. Use a funnel to pour all the oil into a clean, sturdy, leak-proof plastic container with a screw-on cap. Place the oil filter in a clean, sealed plastic bag. Depending on where you live, you might be able to get free jugs and filter bags delivered directly to your door (find your city below for details). Be sure to keep the oil clean – don’t mix it with any other substances so that it can be recycled again and again. If it does get contaminated, make sure to take it to your local Household Hazardous (HHW) Facility (read more below). Once your oil and filter are secure, you can either take it on the road or park it at the curbside for recycling – keep reading to decide what’s best for you.

Local San Mateo County resident drops off used oil and filter at a local collection center.

Take it on the road.
San Mateo County has over 50 drop-off locations where any county resident can take their used motor oil and filters for free, including auto parts stores, repair shops and recycling yards. San Mateo County Environmental Health Services created a map of all the used motor oil and filter recycling collection centers, so you can easily find the closest center to drop-off your used oil and filters (see map below). Always call the drop-off location first to verify hours and limitations, and make sure to give materials to a staff member.

Park it at the curb.
If you live in a single-family home in one of the cities listed below, you have access to convenient curbside oil and filter recycling! Depending on where you live and your waste hauler, you might need to prep your oil and filter a little differently to guarantee it will get picked up. Find your city below for details on what’s accepted and how to prep.

Used motor oil and filter after an oil change, sealed and ready for recycling.

Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, and San Mateo
According to Recology San Mateo County’s website, if you’re a single-family home resident, you can put used motor oil in a clear plastic container and filters in a zippered plastic bag next to your blue recycle cart for pickup on your regular collection day. You can request up to five one-gallon plastic jugs for your used motor oil and up to five zippered plastic bags for your used oil filters, at no cost. You can also use your own clear zip-top plastic bags and clear plastic screw-top containers for used motor oil, like a one-gallon milk jug. Make sure that lids and bags are tightly sealed.

Used motor oil and filter placed next to the recycling cart for curbside pickup.

Portola Valley and Woodside
GreenWaste provides free curbside recycling for used oil and filters, but you have to use their jugs and bags. To order the free jugs and bags, call customer service at 650.565.3900. When you’re done, place sealed jugs with oil and sealed bags with filters next to your recycling cart for collection.

Colma, Daly City, and Half Moon Bay
Republic Services Allied Waste takes up to two one-gallon, clear plastic jugs (with screw-top cap) of used motor oil and up to two one-gallon clear zip-top plastic bags with used oil filters curbside on your collection day. Place well-labeled motor oil and oil filters next to your blue recycling cart.

Brisbane, Millbrae, and South San Francisco
South San Francisco Scavenger will take up to five gallons of oil in sealed plastic bottles with screw-on lids, placed next to the recycling cart. Empty oil filters in a clear zipper-locked bag go inside the recycling cart on top of bottles and cans.

La Honda, Loma Mar, Pescadero and San Gregorio
Kunz Valley Trash & Recycling takes used motor oil in plastic jugs with screw-top lids and used filters inside secure zipper-locked plastic bags. Place both next to your recycling cart. Call 831.338.0500 before your scheduled pickup if you have more than the usual amount for a single auto or pick-up truck.

The San Mateo County Household Hazardous Waste Facility is open for free collection Thursday through Saturday – call 650.363.4718 to make an appointment.

Mixed up?
Not sure if your oil is mixed with other materials, or have other Household Hazardous Waste (HHW – such as paint, antifreeze, or insecticide) to get rid of as well? San Mateo County residents can drop up to ten gallons or fifty pounds of contaminated oil and other HHW off for free Thurs-Sat at the San Mateo County HHW Facility. Call 650.363.4718 and select option 3 or visit the San Mateo County Environmental Health Services HHW website to make an appointment at a drop-off location near you.

For more useful info on motorcycles, DIY oil changing, and oil and filter recycling – check out our other blog posts and the rest of the Riders Recycle site.