Renton program aims to reduce motor vehicle waste

Shift Green helps recycle motor oil, filters and other toxic vehicle components.

The City of Renton is trying to raise community awareness of their recently launched Shift Green program, a project initiated by the city to enhance environmental sustainability by recycling used oil filters and motor oil.

Renton’s Shift Green program began in 2021 by cooperating with auto parts stores, car dealerships, vehicle repair and fast lube shops to identify and support safe practices for managing used motor oil and filters.

Motor oil is highly toxic to ecosystems and can contaminate drinking water when illegally dumped into the environment. With the Cedar River providing critical habitat for salmon, Joshua Chan, sustainability specialist with the City of Renton’s Public Works – Sustainability & Solid Waste division, said the city is committed to safeguarding the health of local streams and waterways by preventing motor oil and other vehicle fluids from leaking onto the road and washing into waterways.

In collaboration with local auto parts stores, the program focuses on the collection of used motor oil and oil filters from Do-It-Yourself (DIY) oil changes. It also encourages vehicle owners to address fluid leaks that can pollute local waterways.

According to data cited by the city, from 2021 to 2022, Renton’s auto parts stores collected an estimated 38,299 gallons of used DIY motor oil – containing enough energy to power around 19,150 average homes for a day. These stores actively promoted awareness about identifying and fixing vehicle leaks that contribute to water pollution, complementing Washington State’s Don’t Drip & Drive campaign, according to the city.

Additionally, Chan said two local O’Reilly Auto Parts stores have gone “above and beyond” by placing stickers on their new oil filter packages reminding customers to bring back their used oil filters along with their motor oil for environmentally-sound recycling. Chan wrote that managers and staff at these locations have demonstrated “outstanding commitment,” collecting an “impressive” amount of used motor oil while raising awareness about the economic and environmental value of recycling used oil filters.

As Shift Green continues in 2024, the City of Renton is inviting residents to join this eco-friendly campaign by identifying and repairing any vehicle leaks, bringing in used oil filters when returning used motor oil to auto parts stores for recycling, and finding out where to bring other hazardous vehicle fluids like antifreeze and coolant.

Chan said if someone opts for a professional oil change, they should inquire whether the mechanic, fast lube shop, or dealership will recycle used oil and filters.

“If they don’t, please ask them to consider recycling them, and reach out to the City’s Shift Green program so we can support their shift to greener practices,” Chan wrote in a letter to the Renton Reporter.

For more information on the city’s Shift Green porgram, visit this link.